Sometimes (O.K., you beat it out of me … all of the time) my imaginary world has way more time in it than my real world.  There are more hours in the days, days in the weeks and weeks in a months.  My imagination is really accommodating that way.  In my imaginary world I can paint a whole house, make 14 freezer meals, and neuter a basket of feral cats by the time I’ve had my second bucket of morning coffee.

Which helps explain why in my imaginary world my Big Spring Project would be finished by now and I would be lazing about my backyard with a pack of wild cats.


My Big Spring Project is not done.  It isn’t even started. In fact, if you insist I put a percentage on it, compared to the last time I talked about My Big Spring Project, I am exactly -10% closer to completion.


My dining room is exactly the same, only it now it has a bunch of really fun gardening stuff piled on the table.  It’s gardening season and Lee Valley sent me a whole whack of stuff to test out for them.  Because it’s gardening season. Which I’ve mentioned twice in this paragraph but forgot to mention to my imaginary brain when I was planning  my Big Spring Project.

The foyer has remnants of unsold garage sale stuff on the floor and is filled with  furniture I dragged out of the dining room so I could see what it would look like as a library.


Just when I was really thinking of starting My Big Spring Project, it was time to start seeds (because it’s gardening season) and I had to start my plants and pay attention to them and then start getting them hardened off outside.

I have a LOT of transplants because I have 2 large gardens now after taking on another community plot, plus I have my front yard vegetable garden plus I agreed to organize the yearly plant sale at my community garden.  That’s one of those things that in my imaginary world timeline could easily fit between building a second bathroom and picking up more coffee at Costco.  In my real life timeline I’m considering wearing only clothing that opens and closes with velcro to save buttoning time.



Since it’s gardening season (did I mention that?) I of course had to try out the cool stuff from Lee Valley immediately.  Since it’s gardening season and all. So, while I could have been priming my woodwork, instead I was outside setting up pop up accelerators and paper garden cloches over the swiss chard that I overwintered.

I thought the waxed paper “emergency cloche” was a hat when I first opened the box of stuff from Lee Valley.  It is not a hat but if I were to wear it as a hat this is what I would look like.





And this is what I would look like gardening in it.




And this is what I would look like grabbing a cup of coffee in it.



And this is what I would look like shopping for home accessories in it.




And this is what I would look like buying produce in it.



And this is what I would look like arguing with an imaginary friend outside of a coffee shop in it.



So, but yeah, it’s not a hat.



The front gardens are half dug up and there, indeed, sitting on the front porch is more leftover garage sale stuff.  A bed.



Also it’s very hard to get motivated to do stuff inside like paint and assemble bookshelves and pick out tables and lamps when things are  g r o w i n g.  Like grass.  And rhubarb.  Because you can make The Art of Doing Stuff’s World Famous Rhubarb Crisp out of rhubarb.  Obviously it’s only world famous in my imaginary life.


I should be painting but instead, I’m wondering why my luffah leaves are starting to yellow.  It’s not too much water, but I may have planted my tiny seedlings in too much compost which was more fertilizer than they could use.  Which made them angry.  And an angry plant does not motivate me to work inside the house.



Then there’s the backyard. Which in my imaginary world is again, already cleaned up by this time of the year and the backdrop to several great pizza parties with interesting guests and maybe a conga line.

Instead what you are beholding is a ripped out toilet, old carpet, rotted out  metal planters and a broken brick.



I forgot to mention the flagstone.  In the past decade it’s become much lighter than it was to begin with so I’m going to seal it with a penetrating (NON GLOSSY) sealer and colour enhancer to bring out the black again.  Add that to the list of things to do in real life.

Did I mention I’m also going to paint all the trim on the outside of my house?

O.K., so now I’m reworking My Big Spring Project, which initially was redoing the lower floor of my house, repainting all the rooms, turning my dining room into a library and sprucing up my living room and foyer.

Those are things I have to do in my real world by the way, not my imaginary world.  In my imaginary world  I get to buy up all of my neighbours properties for $5, build a huge addition, a tiny barn and get a goat.  In a week.

The problem is, which I wasn’t thinking of at the time, I need my Big Spring Project to be something that has to be done outside.  Living in Canada you only have a limited amount of time for outdoor stuff.  Even less if you live in colder zones like the East Coast or the middle of the country.  In the past my Big Spring Projects have been ripping out my front yard to put in a vegetable garden, building a chicken coop or an outdoor pizza oven.  What I’m trying to tell you is there’s been a shift in the timelines of My Big Spring Project.  Which is now My Big Summer, Maybe Actually Fall Project. Does that mean I don’t have a Big Spring Project?  Well that’s not likely, is it?

No, My Big Spring Project is now:


(including windows, eavestroughs, porch etc.)






I kept forcing myself to think I had to do the Big Spring Project because … that was the plan.  Then Bikram Yoga Niece came over and said, “Realistically? I don’t think you can do all that redecorating work plus do everything you have to do outside, plus work full time running a business“.  I pushed her in the dirt.

But I’d had the same thought myself.  That I wasn’t going to be able to do all this.  I just had a feeling my list was getting out of control.  So instead of stressing about it more, I re-prioritized.  Sometimes you have to just roll with the hunches.

I feel a LOT less pressure now, and if I get the outside work done and I feel like picking up a paint brush in the early summer, I’ll start painting.  If not, it’s no big deal.  That’s life.  Real life.

Plus now I’ve made room in my imaginary life for other fun things! Like an imaginary world where I have enough money to hire people to do a few things, where coffee never runs out and paper garden cloche hats are all the rage.







  1. Heather (mtl) says:

    I, too, love making plans. I then find myself utterly overwhelmed and retreat to a quiet corner only to accomplish nothing. I seem to be in some sort of a funk cos I have trouble making the most mundane decision. Hope that passes soon, because… it’s Garden season! I’m in charge of my Co-Op’s veggie garden and love it. Not happy with the people headaches, but it is what it is. My seedlings started out OK, but most have decided to die. Crum. However, in the garden, my rhubarb looks like yours (year 2 now and I rescued it from the ditch. It was there 4 days!), the sage, oregano, lemon balm and usual herbs all look fantastic. At least I have that.
    Love the cloche. My TV volume goes weird and my phone often shuts off (in the middle of a convo) so I need a foil hat. STAT!

  2. India says:

    Cloche hats really should be all the rage. I love the bed on your porch, as for your imaginary life I have one just like it, with marginally different things in it. Wonderful insight to it all xxx

  3. marilyn says:

    lol love those hats, warren actually seems to really lke wearing it..love pink tool belts haircut!!

  4. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You are a nut lady…lol…do the inside work in the Winter when you’re stuck inside anyway!

  5. Brooke says:

    How can you grow luffa in Canada at all!? It’s a tropical, or even sub-tropical, plant, isn’t it?
    Reading this post makes me feel so much better about my lists, you know, the ones that grow sub-lists while you sleep, and that are written in magic ink so that when you cross an item off, when you put the list away, the ink disappears and item remains uncrossed-off?
    And lastly, the inside and outside of your house are in the throes of your projects. They look just like the inside and outside of my house, but I haven’t started any projects.

  6. Jenny Brandon says:

    Get a goat. They eat the weeds (but the little ones will squish your squash bouncing around – personal experience).

    Trust me.

  7. Jackie says:

    Thanks for another great post. It’s good to know that we who make big plans never have enough time. I retired 3 years ago & now I wonder how I ever had time to work & do anything else. I am glad to see that you won’t be stuck inside in the beautiful weather doing work that can be done in lousy weather. I always read your blog & I am never disappointed. I hope at some time you will be doing a blog on the new stuff you got from Lee Valley. Thanks again and again for a great blog. You not only entertain us all you have great ideas & projects.

  8. Lizzie says:

    I have the same exact problem – I always forget that May is gardening season and if you don’t do it in May, you don’t get vegetables from it. And I like vegetables. Hence this year’s ‘back deck’ project is really more like ‘dirt patch in the yard that the dogs thoroughly enjoy’ project. But at least I’ll have tomatoes!

  9. Ellen says:

    no wonder I never get anything done. All my plans are made in my imaginary world (where basic chores & cooking & shopping take no time at all) and my actual time is spent in the real world. I’m moving to the imaginary place. It’s tidier & way easier.

  10. Caarin says:

    *gutting and *remodeling. Because I can’t spell in the real world.

  11. Caarin says:

    I had these same thoughts last night. Who has time to clean a house when it’s nice (by this I mean above freezing, snow free, and things are green) my imaginary butler is going to get dinner ready tonight and my imaginary carpenter will be gitting and remodrling my biffy this weekend…?

  12. Liz says:

    what is that white machine in the second photo? Or is that a sewing machine cover…? I can feel it, I’m going to feel dumb when you answer, haha!

  13. Karen says:

    Looks like a hat to me. Question, something I’ve always wondered, do you get homeless people to take random pictures of you when you are sitting on benches talking to your imaginary friends or do you have a personal camera guy following you around or do you just ask any stranger on the street to take your pictures. Just curious.

  14. Tammy says:

    Karen, I have an idea… If Trump gets elected I will come live with you and together we can accomplish more! I’m a hard worker and follow direction well! And if I don’t cut the muster you can threaten to send me back to the US keep me inspired! Oh wait, my husband might not approve of my plan. Damn my imaginary world!

  15. Although I suffer from your condition, I have you beat in one area. I already get to sit around with the three wild cats I took in. Now, on to replacing the chicken coop doors.

  16. Marta says:

    How did you get your rhubarb to grow?? Tips please!
    P.S. Is it a new flash plugin that’s making the page freeze so I can’t scroll down about 30 seconds into reading your posts? Started doing that about a week ago? Just wondering if it’s you or me.
    Thanks, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marta. Let me know what browser you’re using and what device you’re reading the post on. Usually just clearing your cache will solve the problem, but if it doesn’t let me know. I implemented a new ad service 3 weeks ago or so and I need to relay all the information can to them if you find clearing the cache doesn’t solve the problem. Thanks! ~ karen!

      • Marta says:

        I’m using Chrome on my desktop. Cleared the cache/cookies and things are running smoothly! The “sticky” ad on the right works great :)

  17. Bonnie says:

    Karen, As I sit here surrounded by paint cans & stirers, stain, fabric, trim, sandpaper, staplers & staples, iron & ironing board, sewing machine, hand tools, & etc. to complete my current project of painting and reupholstering my dining room chairs, I applaud you for posting photos showing the present state of your home…it looks good compared to mine. Sorry I don’t have time to type more, I need to take a make-a-paper-hat break. And, as usual, thank you for giving me a good chuckle…

  18. Catherine Vosper says:

    Great post, very entertaining and humourous. You are a delight to read and empathize with!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Catherine! Now if you’ll excuse me, Lee Valley has sent me another package and I have a really odd pair of pants to try on. ~ karen!

  19. Mary W says:

    Or you could retire like I did to have more time to play and get stuff done – then move in with your daughter and babysit with all that free time. My big projects? I don’t even plan them anymore, why when I can still enjoy all the stress by reading your blog and reliving the wonderful world of youth with stuff to do and plans to break. I completely understand the hat idea. That I can do and then totally enjoy the looks the grands give me while wearing it. What a hoot for me. They will one day look back at all that embarrassment and relive being embarrassed. Another payback for me. HA.

  20. Monique says:

    This post is so you..they all are..but this has everything in it:)
    If you had not mentioned a thing about the hat..I bet some would ask you where you got it and want one:)

    Karen I love that huge painting ..in the first pic I think..beautiful..and your seedlings have had much better success than mine..I had maybe 50% germination and what I have is not strong..they are getting used to outside also.
    I have rhubarb envy also..so many rhubarb recipes to try:)

  21. danni says:

    Oh my dearest, I already know that inside construction/painting/organizing/cleaning attic/cleaning basement/blahblah happens in winter.
    I also have seedlings everywhere, torn up garden beds, many many planters waiting to be filled. Once the gardens are in and on maintenance mode I can do other things… outside…. so I can keep an eye on the gardens.
    So from now till September it is work/gardening/repairing Ida the Cob Oven/tearing up deck and replacing it/finishing touches on shed-greenhouse built LAST summer….. and I’m driven like a madwoman because there is the family clambake in September that I host. I take great pride in being a huge show-off over achiever while relatives meander through the gardens with instructions to feel free to eat anything they may find growing… makes it all worth it. Oh yes, and I also lose at least 10 pounds over the summer. (put back in winter but…. :D)

  22. Jamieson says:

    Well now I can’t get anything done today because I must drop everything to go hat shopping. Just in case I get invited to a hat-themed pizza party in your backyard. Extra-thick crust if my hat is repurposed?

    • Karen says:

      Aw. You’re welcome to any pizza party of mine even without a ridiculous hat because you have such weird hair. ~ karen!

  23. whitequeen96 says:

    My secret to getting lots and lots of stuff done is to give up cleaning, bathing, and sleeping, and eating only frozen dinners. It’s amazing how much you can get done, until you end up collapsing into a your grimy sheets, with your dirty hair, and can only stare at the ceiling for the next few days. I’m FINALLY learning that it’s really not all that efficient, when you allow time for the inevitable breakdown.

    • Grammy says:

      Besides Karen’s witty and informative musings, one of my favorite things here are people like this. People who don’t just want to get stuff done, but who want to DO STUFF. There’s a big difference. And the best of them, the talented and the funny, seem to find their way here to Karen’s place. I’ll be grinning all day thinking about whitequeen96 mentioning “the inevitable breakdown” when coupled with the gallery of photos Karen posted of her wearing a garden cloche about town.

  24. Remember to leave some time for hooking!

    • Karen says:

      Uch! I have about 1/4 of my rug to finish and haven’t touched it in weeks! It’s a winter project too, but I’d like to get it finished! I also have a fun post coming up about making an easy really great rug hooking stand, but maybe I’ll leave it to the fall when more people are hookin’. :) ~ karen!

  25. Rose says:

    My “big” spring project is to paint two doors and get my boyfriend to install a cool antique lions head door knocker. Can’t seem to find the motivation…. would much rather drink coffee and read your blog for hours!

  26. Teri says:

    Hilarious..with the exception of the “hats” it’s my life everyday!

  27. Alexandra says:

    Thank you for putting a smile on my face this early morning in Hingham, Massachusetts. I am new to your blog and so far am enjoying it (and you!) very much!

    • Karen says:

      Welcome to my blog Alexandra! I’m new to you reading it and so far I’m enjoying you very much. ;) ~ karen!

  28. Keely says:

    Yes, it would be nice to get all that done. I, too, can be a victim of overplanning in the Spring because you’re full of hope and possibilities! Then you realize all these projects take time away from other things that NEED to get done ( brushing your teeth and occasionally sustaining yourself with food). Or you run out of steam and/or money for your projects because you’re husband refuses to help because he’d rather enjoy summer than constantly work and I tell him it’s ” improving stuff”, it’s not really work and besides, that’s how I enjoy it outside, by working. ( Pretty sure that’s a run-on sentence.)
    Anyway, I have learned to pace myself. If one did it all this year, what would one do next year? ;)

  29. Elaine says:

    Good luck, Karen, with all your outdoor jobs … the indoor ones can wait! Grab those warm days every chance you get! ? I was going to say “do those indoor jobs in the Fall” but Fall is pretty great here where we live, isn’t it. I like Detour’s butter tarts and their carrot cake! I’ve been here a year and a half now and just love this busy little town – everything is right outside my door; I really don’t even need a car!!

  30. MissChris SA says:

    Love the hats…………………………..
    I have not commented for a while because, well, my life feels like yours at the moment.
    Too much going on.
    Getting married again, at an age where most people are looking at retirement homes……….
    forgot how much work weddings were – and this is a small one!!!
    I ALWAYS find time to read your posts though!!!

    • Sarah says:

      Wishing you the best in love and life! Try not to get too wrapped up in the wedding details. At the end of the day, even if you forget to order those cute napkins with both your names and your wedding date embossed on them, you’ll still be married! <3

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Chris! And congratulations. Let them eat cake (and bring their own too if it makes things easier) ~ karen!

  31. Julie Boettcher says:

    LOVE the hats?

  32. Lyn Richards says:

    This is the story of my Real Life — every episode, but especially this one, although I almost hurt myself laughing at the last one. I’m recommending it to all my friends!

    BTW Michelle can go pro-active on her hypochondria by getting that vermiculite tested for asbestos. There are labs to which you can send a sample to find out whether you need professional haz-mat team (don’t do it yourself!) or can just forget about it — ours turned out to be asbestos-free.

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you Lynn
      We had two remediation companies look at the stupid situation. Both said that testing in mostly inconclusive, but we did take samples. I am glad yours tested negative because it gives me hope.

      Anyway I may Order a hat from Karen with some tinfoil and a face mask option. Might solve lots of my issues.

  33. Grammy says:

    I’ll leave your inability to figure out how many hours are in each day/week/month to someone with a degree in, um, helping people like you. You know, you pay them to listen to you and be nice as they ask how you feel about that.

    But, as an old woman who used to think that I, too, was a wonder woman who could get all my great ideas accomplished at the same (ridiculously short) time while a thousand things that HAD to be done got finished, too, I’ve got a tip for you. Bookshelf building and indoor painting and all the indoor stuff is to be done when it’s too cold/rainy and, in your case, snowy, outside. You want to curl up by the fire and read? Tough. It’s your list. You made it. You can read when your knees give out and you can’t lift heavy things. Do the indoor stuff during winter. You know that spring is for garden starting. Summer is for outdoor painting and other outdoor projects. Late summer and fall are for harvest and putting up food for the winter, which you will spend indoors doing indoor projects.

    I know, you’d like to carve out a little time for a social life. Too bad. The only friends you can have are ones who are willing to come over and either help build shelves or paint or strip floors or whatever your projects are. Feed them and tell them it’s a party. If they come again, they’re friends. If not, find new ones. The ones who will wear garden items for hats will probably work for cheap beer and hot dogs. They are the best.

  34. Kath says:

    I’m not very creative, but I like making stuff.
    So my specialty is stealing the ideas of others and then tweaking them.
    Todays steal? The hat.
    Todays tweak? I’m making mine out of tinfoil.

  35. Mark says:

    Velcro!! Very good idea!

  36. Kathleen says:

    Once again, after reading one of your posts, I am exhausted…

    I’m off to get me a cup of coffee and relax until I have the energy to work! :)

  37. brenda says:

    once I discovered I could play chess with my ‘to do’s’ on post its on my monthly block calendar by moving them every day life got a lot less stressful … and besides there’s so much more to do than what’s on the ‘to do’ list(s) – right

    loving the lee valley thinking caps!

  38. Ardith says:

    LOL, LOL, LOL. Wishing you great success with your revised BSP. Cheers, Ardith

    P.S. You know some very festive, fun people. Good sports, the lot of you.

  39. Stephanie Hobson says:

    So, how many people loved your hat and wanted to know where you got it?

  40. Rita says:

    You’ve been watching too many repeats of Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men and their hats have got into your psyche. Admit it Karen. You have no time because you are addicted to children’s vintage telly…..

  41. Lynn says:

    Karen an here I thought you had forgotten you live in Canada … In door projects here are always for bad weather days Ie: winter brrr . As long as we have above freezing we play outside as much as possible :).

  42. Debbie from Illinois says:

    You are my kind of people! Lol!

  43. Jan says:

    Nice hat! I’d order one if they had slightly wider brims, but guessing you don’t need that with your weaker Canadian sunshine.
    I laughed as soon as I read tonight’s title, though for a completely different reason. “When real life gets in the way of imaginary life” seems to describe my adventure in online dating; something my sister has goaded me into. Why do men my age all look so OLD?!!! You know it’s bad when you’d rather stay home and pull weeds! and paint. and compost. and scratch the dog.

  44. Michelle says:

    Thank you sooooo much. You made me feel so much better. I had a panic attack for you. That is better than the permanent one I am in. We have a whole house and property in disaster. It took a year to finish the laundry room. Just finished this week. But every time we scratch something off our huge list something else goes terribly wrong. It started with the roof rats and most recently we discovered our block walls are filled with vermiculite. Bad thing is a wind storm blew it into our house because we had not finished caulking our drywall. Worse thing. It is most likely loaded with asbestos. So now we have been doing self improvement hazmat. Every cough sends me into a fit of hypochondria. And I never noticed how often the mesothelioma commercial airs. So yes our laundry is done but I’ve got so much more added like throwing away every textile we own. Thank you for the chuckle and the panic over your huge list! Just please be careful!!!

  45. ellen says:

    … in your Easter bonnet…..

  46. Sargual says:

    I don’t know how you managed to keep a straight face while looking like a mushroom, good woman. I know i couldn’t. Did you wear it nonstop, or did you put it on an off 10 times?

  47. Su says:

    why are you buying lots and lots of velcro???

  48. Now I want one. A paper garden cloche hat. And an imaginary world. And a cup of coffee.

    My dining room is already a library, though. With a dining table and chairs in the middle of it. We dine among the books.

  49. Gayle'' says:

    First? Whoo-hoo!

    • Gayle'' says:

      Actualy, I was going to say we must be next door neighbors in that imaginary world of yours. I wasn’t able to work in the garden last summer, so…I feel like the weeds are just laughing at my meager attempts to eradicate them. Ha! Friday is a primo day for weeding (moon issue in Leo–fire sign), so they will be defenseless to me. Or maybe I should paint the fence we started 3 years ago, and when hubby gets around to finishing it I can put that part off til I get the windows painted. Hmmmmm…wonder if that indoor paint he bought last year is still good? And he is promising me he will finish making the cabinet doors (3rd summer now…on a kitchen remodel started in 2001). If you haven’t noticed by now, I’ ADD– maybe I should get back on the Ritalin and stop letting hubby enable me. LOL

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