What I’ve Been Doing The Past Couple of Weeks.

Baby bongs, gingerbread churches and airport security alerts round out the trouble I’ve gotten into in the past couple of weeks. Also, I need vegetables. Anyone else desperately feeling like they need to eat spinach and multi-vitamins for breakfast?


My nephew moved from Ontario to Vancouver, British Columbia a few years ago.  Vancouver, if you’ve never been, is an outdoorsy, crunchy type of city surrounded by mountains, oceans and recycling bins. It’s populated by people who wear hand knitted caps that look like they live in the bush but actually live in 3 million dollar condos.

My nephew does not live in a 3 million dollar condo but his place is about the size of one. By that, I mean his apartment is approximately 9 square feet. He doesn’t care. The reason for this is, like most Vancouverites, he spends most of his time outdoors biking, climbing mountains, and recycling.

Because of the size of his apartment buying him presents is on the difficult side. He doesn’t have a lot of space, so anything I buy him has to be small or something that gets used up. This year I managed to accomplish both goals by getting him a couple of things from the skincare line I use (Dermalogica). 

He comes home for a few days at Christmas, and only flies with carry-on luggage, so I made a mental note not to give him a bundle of steak knives – like I did last year. A passenger carrying an arsenal of knives in their carry-on, sets off nearly as many alarm bells as someone going through security drinking a bottle of water while wearing shoes.  

This year I knew he would be safe travelling through airport security with the skin smoothing serum, and SPF 50 moisturizer I got him. OBVIOUSLY anyone carrying around an SPF 50 for their skin isn’t a reckless, danger seeking threat to air travel. They are a person of caution and responsibility with the utmost respect for preventing future wrinkles. Sporting an SPF 50 is basically the skin care equivalent of tattooing the John Lennon & Yoko Ono bed-in image on your face. Peace, man, I’m harmless.

 Any security personnel of integrity checking his bag would recognize this, give him a wink and push him toward the plane with a complimentary set of headphones and whatever fun stuff they confiscated from the woman ahead of him.

This is not the scenario that played out.

Instead, all manner of mishaps and misunderstandings occurred mainly due to his travelling with a 10 pound cast iron skillet in his carry-on. This year’s Christmas weapon was a gift from his mother.

It’s a skillet you understand. A frying pan.  You might not realize the importance of knowing the proper term for your cookware until you’re standing in security at the airport with a line of interrogators asking you if you have some pot in your luggage. 

If they had asked about a skillet, this wouldn’t even be a story. But they asked if he had some pot. 

He stated emphatically  “NO WAY ABSOLUTELY NOT”, knowing he was not travelling with cannabis. He had pajamas, skin care and a skillet. You know. The things most adult men travel with.

LIAR! was the response of security as they flung open his carry-on and pointed animatedly at his unblinking frying pan. Which in fact, is no more a pot, than a swimming pool is.  Nor is a frying pan cannabis. 

My intel after this is sketchy, but from what I can understand through the texts he sent to my sister, being branded a man who lies about the transport of primitive cookware, made security suspicious of him in general and therefore his skincare products. I have mixed reports on whether or not he got to keep his pot, serum or SPF 50. 

But if security threw his Dermalogica out, so help me, the next time I go through security I’m going to fart the whole time they’re waving that wand over me.

Also this past week I made a bunch of tiny gingerbread houses and then ate them. This year upping my game by including tiny stained glass church windows made of melted coloured sugar. You can see those in the photo at the top of this post.

I made the windows with the encouragement of my neighbour (and professional ice cream maker!) Laurel who was here making tiny gingerbread houses with me one night.

Laurel meant to be here for just a little while I’m sure but by the time we were just hitting our groove her 12 year old daughter appeared at the door. When we started the tiny gingerbread she was just 9. 

To make the glass I melted a tiny bit of sugar in a kitchen spoon with a lighter. Had they been peeking in the windows of my kitchen, this would have made airport security’s head explode what with it looking exactly like we were doing crack or meth or heroin or whatever else it is you do with spoon and a lighter.

The millisecond the sugar is melted I poured it onto parchment paper where it spread out. Laurel could then press a piece of gingerbread on it and it would immediately stick and harden to the gingerbread facade.

Most people would dread cleaning up  this kind of kitchen mess, but not me. On the recommendation of my friend Andrea, I just sold my house instead. I plan to use the proceeds for SPF airline safety education.

Me.  At the garden on December 27th without a coat or mascara on (not that I shouldn’t have had either on, I’m just saying I didn’t) cleaning up the garden and dealing with my compost bins for several hours. It was an incredibly warm day for December with a high of around 13 degrees (55 F) so I took advantage of it and got outside.

I was partly pulled to the garden because of an unquenchable craving for food with vitamins. After a week of Christmas food I’m feeling a bit like a cement block.

While I was up at the garden I noticed that one of my tunnels had a couple of beets that could be picked so I grabbed those as I was leaving. The reason this weather was so exciting is not just because it was a bit more pleasant to work outside in than an ice storm for instance, but because it had been over freezing for a few days which  means the ground is thawed enough to pull stuff like dead plants out of it.

I leave some dead plants in the ground because the roots are great for feeding worms and keeping them in your soil, but I didn’t want to leave absolutely everything in the ground until spring because that just makes for a bigger cleanup in April.  Another thing you can do if you want is to just cut the stalks off of the plants, and leave the roots where they are to decompose or get eaten by buggy bugs in the soil.

Coming up Next Week in My Life

What I'll Be Up to Next Week

P.S. I gave Betty a pink, hand blown glass marijuana pipe for Christmas. It’s not to use, it’s way too small for wine, but because she thought it would be pretty on the coffee table. 

I wonder what airline security would think of that.

update: I just heard from my nephew and he assures me it was all just a big mixup and he is in possession of the skillet, face serum, and moisturizer. No one knows where the pot is.



  1. I tried sending this a few days ago but I don’t think it went thru, and it refers to old postings.
    Anyway, I also have the American harmony silverware by Oneida and have had it for decades. I love it and it still looks great and shiny. Anyway, the point of my sending this is to say that one of my knives broke several yrs ago, I called Oneida to replace it and they told me to send all my knives back to them, and they replaced them with new one piece knives. Took a couple of weeks but well worth the wait. I can’t recommend Oneida enough!

  2. Cathy Huber says:


    I thought this might be like something you would like or would make.

  3. Jules says:

    Happy new year to you Karen. Thank you for entertaining, amusing and inspiring us for yet another year.

  4. Karen says:

    Great blog and story! As an ex airline employees and a serious gingerbread house builder for 20+ years—–happy New Year!

  5. Jan in Waterdown says:

    So does your neighbour know you took a lovely photo of her cleavage? I met her back in the summer at my local market and she didn’t strike me as someone who would allow that unless maybe wine was involved. But then there is an empty glass on the counter….. clutching my pearls 😏

    • Karen says:

      Yes. WE discussed her cleavage when I took the shot. And yes that is an empty wine glass. Which led to the decision to feature her cleavage. ~ karen!

  6. MartiJ says:

    Best blog in ages. Really. Thank you. (Or is it that I just don’t get by to read you enough anymore?)

    Great close out to the year.

  7. Lisa says:

    Your gingerbread houses are great and the stained glass really made them perfect.

    Decades ago there was a spoof Martha Stewart magazine, “Is Martha Stuart Living?” and it included a questions column. There was a mock conversation that always comes to mind when I see gingerbread houses. It went something like this:

    Reader: Are the windows in my gingerbread house supposed to open and close?
    M.S.: Yes, you lazy bitch.

    That’s the gist of it, I still chuckle when I think of those insane years. BTW, do your windows open/close?

    Love your blog, best wishes for a great New Year.

  8. Gail says:

    You gave me a real chuckle with your need for veggies and feeling like a cement block. Exactly what I’m going through. 3 days of very very tasty fatty or sugar food….my body is rebelling. I made a special trip to the grocery just to buy clementines, what a lovely change of culinary pace. Such a first world problem.

  9. Cheryl Young says:

    My husband always carries a pocket knife. A few years ago, we were flying home from Calgary to Halifax. A series of events (road construction, a detour, lack of decent signage to the airport, and a scramble to find parking) meant we were rushed. As we were in the security line, he realized he forgot to put his knife in the checked bag.
    Thinking it could slip by the security team, he stuffed it in our carry-on. No surprise, the x-ray machine picked it up. A search ensued and we were desperately trying to tell the guards, “Just take the damm thing!”, as our flight was being called for final boarding. They finally let us go, and we ran the length of the airport to our gate, just as they were calling our names over the intercom and shutting the doors.
    Needless to say, now he is careful to either leave the new knife he had to buy at home or pack it away everytime we travel.

  10. Mary W says:

    Your gingerbread houses are the very best I’ve ever seen. We have a big party each year for all the grandkids’s friends. They must bring a bag or box of candy to share. They get a gingerbread house on an aluminum baking sheet. It takes every bit of 3-4 hours for them to all get decorated, pictures made, gum drops printed with shoe soles cleaned up off the driveway, and icing painted all over top the driveway as snow. Just kidding, the mess is real but some of the kids just lick up the mess. Parents are not happy with their sugar rushed kids but love the gingerbread houses and scenes that come home and with pictures! Kids look forward to what kind of house they will get each year. First year – real homemade, huge gingerbread houses. Some of the roofs were sliding off and one kid grabbed the one with a broken roof as his choice so he could make an earthquake gingerbread house. Second year – graham cracker houses but they weren’t as much fun. Third year – back to real gingerbread but smaller. Fourth year – cardboard houses with real icing holding them together (the icing is what is important). Fifth/this year – big cardboard box houses – and no room on the tray for sleighs, volcanoes, or trees. Next year – I vote for your houses. Having stained glass windows would be a wonderful surprise and edible. I see that you bake a huge sheet of gingerbread then cut it – how is that done? Our gingerbread is cut out before baking and is not cut-able. Obviously cooked longer. I can just see next years tray full of ice cream cone trees, a couple houses, maybe a fence or some little animals. Too cute. THANKS. Instructions would be very welcome. Maybe a tutorial for a spring garden tray? with potting shed. or even just a few words of instructions.

  11. whitequeen96 says:

    Oooh, I want to see Betty’s pink, hand blown glass marijuana pipe. I bet it’s beautiful! And quite the conversation starter in the home of an 80 year old woman!

  12. Robert says:

    The one thing I recognized on your craft table which you didn’t mention as a necessary tool for Christmas crafts was a wine glass! Alas, yours was empty!

  13. Jean Baxter says:

    I love your blog…..you have such a knack of describing normal, messy life! My kitchen looked like yours, not one out of a magazine, after my grandkids and I decorated gingerbread houses. I felt like selling my house too!
    I also love that you live down the hill, in my favourite town.

  14. KimS says:

    You’re not trying to sneak some important news by us, are you? On the recommendation of my friend Andrea, I just sold my house instead.

  15. Bee says:

    That was hilarious-thank you 💕
    Reminded me of a trip to Paris with a former boyfriend back in the day when security was high because of the Troubles in Ireland. We were due to fly from Cardiff direct. At check-in all hell broke loose, with bells and flashing lights…. my partner was attempting to board with a transistor radio loaded with 8 batteries held together with gaffer tape – the radio had seen better days! This was before xrays and scanning- imagine the poor airline guy rummaging through the socks and shaving gear and coming up with what looked scarily like a home-made bomb…. ‘nuff said – maybe he changed job after? Happy New Year 💕

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