Sitting in my seat waiting for the symphony to start I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I’d forgotten something.  I checked my purse; opera glasses, cough drops, iPhone, miniature rubber pig that makes oinking sounds when you squeeze it.  Nope, seemed like I had everything.  But I still couldn’t sit back, relax and enjoy the soothing sounds of ABBA as interpreted by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Mama Mia.  I knew what I forgot.

I forgot I should be in my living room which currently looked like airline wreckage, not on the first balcony of Roy Thompson Hall, swaying back and forth like some sort of Swedish music loving lunatic.  I had things to do.  Deadlines to meet.




But when someone texts you the night before and asks you to go see a symphony, the entire evening dedicated to Swedish supergroup ABBA complete with soundalike singers flown in from Finland … well you just don’t say nej.

You also don’t say no when someone asks you to go to Vancouver for a week, an antique show, Ikea, or down the street to see a really weird shaped insect carcass on the sidewalk.  You just don’t.


In spite of all of this I am pleased to announce that after 3 weeks of hard work and late nights I did not meet my Thanksgiving deadline for making over the lower floor of my house.

It was quite an accomplishment for me to not meet my deadline and choose fun over work for 3 weeks.

I took a chance on me.   ‘Cause you know, I’ve got, so much that I want to do. It’s madnessss.

I took these photos about an hour before I went out for the night instead of staying home and putting together a bunch of bookcases.  I glanced around, stepped over some garbage and locked the door behind me muttering screw it.



Thanksgiving in Canada was yesterday.  I had my Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday.




As of Tuesday I had bought no groceries, couldn’t even pick my way across my living room and even though I had finished painting all the rooms, I was afraid to clean and put away my painting supplies in case I’d missed a spot and needed them.




This was not a kitchen ready for my famous Thanksgiving walk around the island with my arm up a turkey’s butt while saying “Lambchop!  Where did all your curls go?”.  It just wasn’t.

But guess what?  Even after going on vacation for a week, wandering the streets of Toronto, and having some socially conventional fun, I still got enough done that come Sunday afternoon all 12 guests could meander through the house, sit at the dinner table and spray whipped cream directly into their mouths.

Which really is all Thanksgiving is all about.

Go ahead. I dare you. ;)



  1. I still don’t know if I am right or wrong, but after tedious, only in-my-head, decades-long (I am old) philosophical discussions with me taking both sides and arguing between the merits of doing what I wanted versus what I should/was socially expected of me, whether to give my limited time to care/support family (virtue?) when I truly needed to care for myself (selfish?), and wondering what God would say, should I meet him/her when I die, I decided, that after being blessed with this wonderful world, with blue skies, oceans, rivers, green fields, flowers, spices, chocolate, wine, with music and laughter and love, the only question he/she would ask is, “Did you have fun?”
    As I am dancing barefoot in my kitchen to Abba twirling in my RoughLinen Pinnafore, (thank you, Karen), I can answer, “Yes! Today, I had a ball!”

  2. Wendy says:

    I think that’s the way to do it.

    Doing fun things make you more interesting to your guests. They can walk around a work in progress and stuff themselves with pasta and olives and be perfectly content.

    My motto: Invite them, and they will come.

  3. Go ABBA! Go Karen, it is what it is :-)

  4. Lauren says:

    Show me the person that clicked the link and didn’t sing along WITH some shoulder action and you’ll be showing me a liar ;-)

  5. Robyn says:

    Thanks Karen I needed that! Cooking a big elaborate meal for visiting family I got to dance in the kitchen to one of my favorites! Yay!

  6. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Btw, did you happen to notice last time you were @ Ikea, there is now a black version of that white metal pitcher? It is very cool. I scored a white one in the “as is” section, my fave department, for very little but now I *want* (need?) a black one!

  7. Katie C says:

    Imperfection is a beautiful thing. As is ABBA. :-)

  8. Lois Baron says:

    Love your posts. Love your stuff.

    At the moment I’m up to my armpit in boxes because I’m having the floors refinished next week; a cleaner came yesterday. I told him to ignore everything and just clean the kitchen and bathrooms. While I was out of the house, he stacked everything up so we can walk through the house without tripping. (He might have done it out of self preservation.) No idea where stuff is, but it is lovely to have a clean path.

  9. Darla says:

    Love the soundtrack and sometimes you just gotta do what feels good!!

  10. Ev Wilcox says:

    So very good for you! If you really did not take pics of your Thanksgiving, could you tell us what wondrous dishes you and your diners had? Happy Thanksgiving, and you were right-the house will wait!

    • Karen says:

      There was no time for fanciness this year Ev. :) Roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, turnip, red cabbage, White Trash Salad, Pumpkin Pie, individual sized maple cakes. I took care of the first 3, everyone else brought the other dishes.

  11. Melissa in NC says:

    A girl has to live a little, good for you! To bad a bunch of little elves didn’t invade your home and finish the work for you.

  12. Nicole says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who stared at the wreckage of my house a few days before the holiday and muttered. I wound up shoving all the half-unpacked boxes that moved from the attic last summer during my redo up there into a corner of my office and putting a table over the new dishwasher that’s still sitting, uninstalled, in my dining room the day before Thanksgiving this year. And you know what? It was fine. I’m thankful to have a home where I can invite my American friends (who I’m also thankful for) for a dinner with way too much food (again, thankful).

  13. judy says:

    Ha! This post for me at 76 began totally with Huh? I’m reading through and enjoying as usual but my brain is saying for Gawds Sake old lady you missed Thanksgiving..Brain says but …the kids haven’t even come for halloween candy yet so how did I miss Thanksgiving? Wouldn’t the Sons have mentioned it …and shown up to be fed and NOT help with the dishes? Something in the piece brought me back to this– young Lady resides in of the sane and sensible with health care and nice manners and not where you live which I swear has become the land of very pissed off people who may just give us El Presidente of ….. Open large mouth,shove foot in and let the nukes fly. I’m hiding under the bed until November 9th!

    • Karen says:

      Yep. That’s me. Canadian, eh. Good luck under the bed!! ~ karen!

    • Penny says:

      But the stubby-fingered, pouty-lipped, pedal-bin-haired, Cheeto-faced Oompa-loompa has told everyone to vote on the TWENTY-eighth!!
      You’re dead right to be worried; never under-estimate the intelligence of the individual or the stupidity of the mob.
      Look at what happened when us brits were asked to vote recently; all the angry people banded together with the idiots, just to send a message about how pissed-off with politicians they were, and it ended up with us leaving the EU.
      Don’t hide under the bed, though, that’s where the Dust-bunnies live. Go to a life-affirming joyous musical soiree like Karen did!

  14. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Way. to. go.
    Proud, I am.
    (I will be happy to see the completion WHENEVER it occurs!)
    Cheers to you!
    And Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Laura Bee says:

    Lambchop! I can just see it… This year I had to throw my hands up and cry uncle. Bought a pumpkin pie this year. But from a local bakery and I whipped the cream. I had even bought a pie pumpkin with full intentions to make it from scratch. I did make a great rutabega puff to bring to my sister’s dinner.

    • Karen says:

      A rutabega puff? That sounds interesting! ~ karen

      • Laura Bee says:

        It was really good. My mom requested turnip.
        This is one I found online that is really close. My recipe from a church recipe book calls for it to be all put into a food processor & puree it. (and use 1/4 tsp nutmeg) Then top with walnuts & butter. Also 400 for 15 min & 375 for 15 until golden & puffy.

    • Ev Wilcox says:

      My thanksgiving will be in November. Trying to decide how to avoid, I mean, what I am cooking this year! Would like to experience a “Rutabaga Puff” though!

  16. First off… LOVE ABBA!!! In all their cheesy glory! But after reading this post, and as I often do, I veered off into some old posts of yours – which led me to the SHOP tab… Because I HAVE TO HAVE those 3 stacked pigs that I saw in one of your posts. Which I couldn’t find in the SHOP… Where can I find these?

  17. Linda in Illinois says:

    LOVE ABBA… you made the right decision.

  18. Allison says:

    Karen, I am so proud of you right now.

  19. Mary W says:

    I knew it! You really are human. Yea for you and you are richer for it. This song is a happy maker. Thanks.

  20. Elaine says:

    What a smart young woman you are, Karen!! It’s taken me over 70 years to learn to just simply “walk away” from a mess!! Way to go! I had to smile at the picture of your living room. It looks like the Buddha is still trying to keep calm in the room while the Foo dogs are laughing at him, sayin’ “fat chance, Buddy!”

    By the way, I have the very same gold coloured “Wheat table”. I’ve had it for decades and when I downsized for the condo, I was tempted to sell it but found I just couldn’t. It’s perfect in a little reading spot in my living room.

    • Karen says:

      I have the same issue with my wheat table! I always get tempted to sell it for some reason, but always keep it. I got it at a garage sale for $5!! ~ karen

      • Elaine says:

        $5????!!!!! Wow, did you score! It’s funny – for nearly everything I have bought, I can remember exactly where I bought it except for that wheat table.

        I think it was way back in the late 60’s or early 70’s – probably from some little “boutique” in Burlington – long before Burlington had any proper shopping and before their first Mall was built which was, I think, 1975. I know it wasn’t cheap!

  21. Kris says:

    As usual. Inspiring, entertaining, and unexpected. Thanks Karen!

  22. Marilyn meagher says:

    They are coming for dinner to,see you and eat the food and because it’s family time , the house will always be there , some people won’t ! You made the right choice!

  23. Ronda says:

    the house, and all its “needs”, will be there waiting. ABBA will not!

    • Ronda says:

      but, quick question … how will you match the colour on your existing billy bookcases to the new extensions?? this enquiring mind would like to know!

      • Karen says:

        I’m going to be painting the bookcases the same colour as my walls once they’re built in Ronda. :) Simply White by Benjamin Moore. ~ karen!

        • Ronda says:

          ahh. very well planned. do you have to sand the finish slightly? I ask because I have a number (by which I mean at least 6) white billies that have changed colour over the years, and if they ever end up in the same room together, I will need your expertise!

        • Karen says:

          Hi Ronda. I’ll prime the bookcases with my new favourite primer, “Stix”. You can get it at Amazon or any Benjamin Moore store. It can go over ANYTHING. Glass, tile, oil based paint … anything. And it’s a water based product itself which means clean up is really easy and it dries quickly. A little goes a longgggg way too. ~ karen!

        • Ronda says:

          nice. thanks for the tip!

        • Tiffany says:

          Great news. I have 5 in brown, and 3 black, now I can refinish all to a new colour.

  24. Kelly says:

    Your house looks a disaster. Thanks for providing evidence that you are just like the rest of us. Now THAT’S inspiring! I am in the middle of a basement redo and at the stage where I want to just sit down in the middle of it and cry. And toss the vodka I haven’t drank and a match on the whole bloody mess (how’d I ever accumulate so much shit?). But I know you’ll sort out YOUR mess, so I’d better sort out MINE. Thanks as always for fun posts.

  25. Danni says:

    I just learned that myself recently. If it ain’t done, it ain’t the end of the world. (But wait till next year!!)

  26. Jamieson says:

    So proud of you!

  27. maggie van sickle says:

    u took a chance and it all worked out. That is what life is all about.

  28. Teri says:

    I have tickets to Mamma Mia in Victoria in December.
    with my 86 year old mom and 16 year old daughter (and 17 year old son, haven’t told him yet!!! LOL).
    Ten years ago, my sister and wouldn’t go to see it with mom in London (too snobby of us) but I am now a convert (and cry each time I see the movie).
    Enjoy the imperfect house!!!!

  29. Brenda says:

    Nothing like leaving everything until the very last minute to see what you’re really made of … it is all about how you play the game AND about winning (well being strong and smart enough to move the goal posts so when you shot – you scored) … hope you had help with the dishes! I picture you getting home late at night from ABBA and putting your Stayin’ Alive album on the record player and jive dancing around in your opera clothes with the vacuum cleaner and waking up a few mornings later with your lipstick just a little smeared to the smell of a turkey ready – Yay. Also love that you brought the little pig in your purse to the TSO.

  30. Jenny W says:

    ABBA Rocks at 7am! Thanks for keeping it real :)

  31. Debbie D says:

    Congrats on taking a chance with yourself. You deserved a break. I was wondering how you were going to do it all. Nice to know you took care of you. Still want to see pictures of everything however.

  32. GrammyK says:

    Can’t. stop. chair. dancing., Love it! Charley horse, stay away!!! Can’t. stop. Take. a. chance. on. Charley…..! Thanks for the energy. Love your posts as always. ^_^

  33. Robert says:

    I can’t for the very short life of me figure out how is it possible that some people don’t like ABBA!
    Mamma Mia! The movie I understand, but ABBA?
    Good choice Karen, although I don’t know if I wold have done the same where I in that very same position.
    (Ok, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do)

  34. MrsChris SA says:

    Always take a chance on you pulling through Karen – you have the knack.

    Now for the Thanksgiving pictures and stories – I love those (especially as I live in a place that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving!)

    • Karen says:

      I’m afraid I put my camera down for the night MrsChris SA and took the day off completely. :( Sorry! I know how many people love the day after Thanksgiving post ~ karen!

      • SusanR says:

        Better to live you life for yourself and your loved ones than a bunch of familiar strangers. I’m happy that you enjoyed yourself instead of being anal about everything, and even relaxed enough to leave your camera alone and just enjoy the company and occasion!

  35. Sherry in Alaska says:


  36. Ardith says:

    Sounds like the perfect build up to a wonderful holiday. Cheers, Ardith

  37. Barbie says:

    YOu made the right decision! Thanks for the inspiration and helping me to remember the important things in life. :)

  38. MaryJo says:

    Yay–I love ABBA and I would have done exactly what you did, Karen!
    Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

  39. stephanie says:

    Totally off topic, where did you end up eating in Victoria??

    • Karen says:

      Things got screwed up Stephanie and we never made it to Victoria! We had underestimated how long the drive was from Tofino so we just stayed in Tofino another day. ~ karen!

  40. VICKI says:

    F A N T A S T I C .

  41. Well, I listened (and danced) to Take a Chance on Me and realized that going to that concert was WAY more important than fixing a house. What?! A hundred times more!!

    I hope the show comes to Ottawa!

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