Monday 28 October 2013

This is what a hero looks like: MJ bakes!

Five years ago, my best friend MJ left cooking.

She was good at it. In fact, she was great. She made her way up to Executive Chef status by her twenties, and all that without a formal education. But she was tired of working in male-dominated kitchens where sexual harassment and homophobia was the norm. She was tired of getting passed up for promotions, paid a sub-standard wage, and never getting a long enough leash to do her best creative work.

So she left, and took a somewhat less prestigious job--though ironically, better-paid--as a barrista. We supported her in this decision, because she was burnt out and didn't love cooking anymore. But we kept her in the kitchen at a positive way. We encouraged her endless baking of key lime pies, coconut macaroons, meringue eggs, and truffles.

Slowly, the love returned, and a desire to fulfill her passion was rekindled. So MJ enrolled in the bakery program at college. There, she has been kicking ass for the last three months.

Recently, MJ had a project to do: make an outgoing voicemail message for your future self, in five years' time. It was a Business Communications assignment, but it was also an assignment in self-affirmation. Because after years of being beaten down and made to feel less than awesome, MJ recorded this as her 'dream' outgoing message:

You have reached Mission: Bake It So, aboard the International Space Station. We are currently somewhere over Europe, travelling in excess of 17,000mph, and can't take your call right now, but we'd love for you to send us an email at _____, or you can learn more about us online at Bake It So: literally as close to heaven as you can get.

Me (left) and MJ (right).
I should probably have mentioned, MJ is an uber-nerd. For both the written and recorded 'future self' assingments, all of her science was verifiably accurate. This message is not a joke: if MJ had a genie, she would wish to be baking on the International Space Station doing science and food wizardry.

MJ is my hero. She makes me believe that you can be true to yourself and succeed in your goals. Make your own music, sing your own song, and soon the whole world will be singing along.

Tuition is tight and there's a long road ahead of MJ before she reaches her goal of universal baking domination. But we, her family and chosen family, stand behind her. In a way, a win for MJ is a win for all of us.

(And of course, I can't help but put it out there that if you, too, want to support MJ, you can like her Bake It So facebook page in preparation for when it really gets going, and if I knew how to set up a scholarship fund for her, I'd do that too. I don't, but on the off-chance there's a rich and powerful benefactor out there looking for a place for their money to go, they can email me.)

MJ is my hero in many ways, not just baking and goal-setting. She is the only person who knows exactly who I am, exactly how I think, and exactly what I want when I'm having a meltdown. She is an unwavering friend to all her loved ones, and a daily good Samaritan. These things all make her great. But her ability to say, "I'm a grrl, and a world-class baker, and these things can co-exist!" makes her my hero today. Her straight-A grades don't hurt, either.

Comment below to say congrats! 

Bank Street Zombie Invasion: Update!

I wrote last week about the Bank Street BIA's zombie invasion that's happening this Hallowe'en 2013 day, from 11-3pm. We just did a little promo video for the event, so you can watch me get manhandled by zombies here:

(You also get to meet the puppy, recently renamed Corben, who proves to be of no protective use to me against a zombie attack.)

I met with the organizers of this event again today, and I'm more excited than ever. Aside from the zombies themselves wandering about, there's a number of other activities happening including a free photobooth, free makeovers by drag queens for the public, and even tarot card readings. Rain or shine, you're not going to want to miss this fun midday Hallowe'en fete.

Head over to the Bank St BIA blog for more.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Love Our Muffin Top: bringing chicks back to flicks!

Go to the Kickstarter page here.
This post is about a really incredible chick flick that's coming out called Muffin Top. And this little indie-film-that-could needs your support via their Kickstarter campaign to get out in the theatres. But let me give you the back story after I talk about the movie. (It's a good story.)


So long story short, I started helping out with a movie called Muffin Top, directed by one of my favourite female authors. 

I started out helping Cathryn Michon because I love Cathryn, and I'd wholly support any project this woman comes up with. But then I got to watch an advance screening of the film, and I actually fell in love with the film itself. Muffin Top is a rom-com about a woman whose husband walks out, leaving her bloated and hormonal from the fertility treatments she'd been taking. Cathryn stars in the film and is absolutely hilarious; her scene on the surgical table where she's high and harassing the doctor literally had me in tears. And there's a nice...visual specimen...named Michael Hawley who added a pleasing aspect to the film. 
Head to the Kickstarter here.

But if you're a big-name chaser, you can also enjoy appearances by Diedrich Bader, Haylie Duff, Melissa Peterman, Gary Anthony Williams, and David Arquette.

What's really cool about this film, though, is the female power contingent. Cathryn has a dream of bringing 'chicks back to flicks', as the box office is saturated with testosterone-fueled big-budget action movies with buff men in the lead roles, and waifish bondage-gear-clad women in the background. So the Muffin Top movie actually has a record-breaking number of women working behind the camera, in front of the camera, and even on the soundtrack; in fact, this is the first all-female soundtrack ever. Insane, right?

So I'm excited to be a part of this project. And I'd like to invite you all to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign. These funds will support Cathryn and her team in distributing the film via a theatre tour, while those of us unlucky enough to be in a city without a showing will be able to watch it on our local 'on demand' movie services.
Follow on Twitter here.

This is more than a movie, people: it's a movement. Muffin Top is giving the power to the people, to let us decide our own entertainment fate. Together we can help send a message to Hollywood: bring women back into the film industry at every level! Give us good movies, and relateable female characters! And YES, a female cast can carry a movie!

Whether you're familiar with Cathryn Michon's books or not, I invite you to fall in love with her (all over again) in Muffin Top. Help spread the word, donate if you can, and get ready to watch a really sweet, smart film. 


Many years ago, I was at the bookstore looking for something funny to read. I happened to pick up this little green-and-pink covered book called The Grrl Genius Guide to Life, by one Cathryn Michon. I read the book cover to cover; then I read it again. And again. And again.

That little book actually changed my life. It was funny, but it also had pearls of wisdom in it. Cathryn Michon had managed to write this little book about how to be a happier, more self-accepting woman. I started giving copies out to friends, to counselling clients, to anyone who needed it. The Guide to Life singlehandedly helped me embrace the idea that I can be girly (grrly) and still achieve greatness. It was a good purchase.

A few months back, I went to grab my copy for a reread, and realized I had given away my last copy. Saddened, I sent a simple tweet out to the universe, sharing my pain.

And a strange thing happened: Cathryn Michon tweeted back.

Follow Muffin Top on Facebook here.
She said she'd send me another copy. Sure, I thought; surrrre, the actual bestselling Cathryn Michon is offering to send me a book. Har har. This twitter account had a typical headshot of Cathryn, and about 70 followers. There was no way this was the real Cathryn.

But then we got talking, and sure enough, the book arrived. Also, Cathryn asked for some pointers on how to be a bigger genius on twitter. We skyped and I gave her my best tips. Then I basically walked around on a high for several days: one of my all-time favourite authors had called me.

A few months later, I checked in with Cathryn and she told me she was ready to go live with a film she'd directed—a film called MuffinTop. She asked if I'd help with the social media and I said of course. And here we are, on the verge of a film revolution. Join us, won't you?

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Family time, and a whole lot of trash

The kids got tote bags and I have no idea why,
but opted to wear them as hats. Sorta.
Last month, we took Alan's kids with us for something a little different. There was an event happening down
on the Ottawa riverbank called the Shoreline Clean-Up, hosted by the World Wildlife Federation, Loblaws, OLG, and a few others. Mom was going down with her colleagues as a staff team, and she invited us to come along. I said yes weeks in advance, because I wasn't expecting torrential downpour.

But torrential downpour, we got.

We're lucky it's been a warm autumn for us up here in Ottawa. Everything was calm and clear in the morning when we piled into Alan's van, but as he dropped us off to look for parking, the skies just opened up. I nestled Blueberry into my neck in the hopes I'd keep her dry, but the rain hit us from every direction and soon the only thing dry on her was whatever had been covered by her raincoat. Max hadn't wanted to bring his jacket, so his hoodie was soon soaked through, and we ended up getting an oversized 'volunteer' tee shirt to change him into when the weather calmed down.

We spent the next two hours picking litter up off of the riverbank down by the Parliament buildings. Everything from gum wrappers to pillowcases were scattered about the area, and in a short time our team filled several garbage bags with various disgusting things. The teams gathered again on the riverbank for sandwiches and cake while a giant (soaking wet) panda mascot danced about. It was an odd way to spend a Saturday morning.

But here's what surprised me: the kids loved it. When we were first running down to the sign-in tent, rain sleeting off our faces and running into our sneakers, I was convinced we'd be back in the car with two whining kids within the first twenty minutes. But when we arrived, Mom swung Blueberry up in her arms and they both happily wandered around together greeting various friends and strangers. Max seemed to take the science of the whole thing very seriously, and was amazed by the variety of strange things we found during the cleaning. He was also thrilled when, at one point, he unearthed a twenty-dollar bill and was allowed to keep it.

It wasn't the panda mascot, nor the cake that made the children love it: it was the act itself. We had explained to the kids that this was something we were doing “for the earth”, and even little Blueberry, at three years old, seemed to understand.

Oh sure, we had some hitches; Blue slipped in the mud at one point so I scooped her up and sat on a rock singing Elvis songs to her until strangers started joining in. Max refused to change out of his wet 'volunteer' shirt and I spent the rest of the day worried he was going to catch cold. But all in all, the kids loved what we did that day: we all got together as a team, and made a tangible difference for the planet. No big reward to be had, no fancy party: just a light lunch and a wet panda, and a few hundred pounds of trash. 

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Welcome to the Comic Book Shoppe!


Ladies and gents, villians and heroes, I’m pleased to welcome the Comic Book Shoppe on Bank Street as one of our new Girl, Crafted patrons!

The Comic Book Shoppe on Bank Street has been in business for 14 years now. It is known as the best place to find all sorts of geekery, well beyond comic books. I defy you to go in and not find something you’d want to take home with you.

The Shoppe carries all manner of favourites, with everything from vintage collectors’ items to the latest Tokidoki figurines. Shoppe owner, Rob Spittall, has an unrivaled knack for finding the coolest merchandise before anyone else in town has found it. Whether you’re looking for a Dr Who tardis lamp, or a lightsaber umbrella, you’re in the right place.

The Shoppe is also known for having a great mix of both kid-friendly and mature stock; Heroclix and Pokemon figurines are close at hand, while moving and powerful indie comics are available with staff recommendations to guide you.

Of course, the Shoppe on Bank is also headquarters of our very own Capital Geek Girls, which is our illustrious fanclub for geeky girls. The Shoppe has a strong reputation for being women-positive as well as GLBTTQ-positive, so it’s a great place to come looking for a new geek favourite—you can honestly ask your questions without fear of discrimination. The Shoppe hosts Geek Girl events throughout the year, and there’s even a couple coming up soon (so stay tuned). They've even got a Capital Geek Girls section now, where all sorts of girl-approved merchandise can be found.

Thanks, The Comic Book Shoppe, for coming on board as an official patron of the blog. We’re proud to work with you in so many ways!

Join the Facebook Group
Follow on Twitter
and head in, at 228 Bank Street, Ottawa Ontario!

And follow the Capital Geek Girls on Facebook, too!

Thursday 17 October 2013

Play kitchen DIY from a night stand: tutorial for fake cooking fun

Alan's little girl Blueberry really likes play kitchens. We looked at getting her one from the store, but I had a real problem with them: they're all hyper-feminine. We're talking bright pink, people. It was awful. So I found some examples of homemade ones on Pinterest, and this is my version right here. It's not a hard tutorial, but it's fairly time-consuming and it helps to have someone helping who knows about things like attaching hinges...which is why my dad is so super cool. Here we go...



-an end table or night stand
-Spray paint
-Puffy paint
-a tin bowl
-a faucet
-a magnet and a washer


1. Prime and paint your nightstand.
Well, sand, then prime, then paint. I hate sanding, so I'll just say: do a better job of it than I do.

2. Paint your CD's.
Four CD's, spray painted with a black matte finish, will make great stove elements. I used red puffy paint to make the red-hot elements.

3. Cut out the bowl hole.
This will be your sink. Carefully measure so that your bowl, which will ideally have a lip, doesn't fall through the hole. I left this step up to my dad.

3b. Glue the 'elements' into place.
'Nuff said.

Gluing the bowl into the hole can be done with a variety of adhesives, but I think we used something industrial-grade from Home Depot.

4. Install the faucet.
We wanted to find a used one, but it just didn't work out. Try finding one if you can; it doesn't have to function, after all. It's just nice to have the taps turn.

5. Make the oven.
Okay, there's a few steps here, starting with 'get your dad to come over with his tools':
a. Remove top drawer.
b. Cut off the front of the drawer.
c. Glue the rest of the drawer back into the drawer hole, as this will be the belly of the oven.

d. Apply hinges to the front of the drawer to make it open from the top.

e. Glue a large washer (or other metal piece) to where the drawer front will make contact with the night stand, and glue a magnet onto the drawer front so that the magnet connects with the washer. Dad used a drill to actually embed the magnet into the drawer front.

f. Paint the inside of the 'oven' with whatever colours you like.

And that's about it!

Blueberry loved it. She was blown away and she plays with it constantly. The bottom drawer works well as a storage area and it's the perfect size for her bite-sized bedroom.

While it took a while to make and involved a lot of work, the entire thing cost me $5.00 for the secondhand nightstand, plus $25.00 for the faucet, and is way cooler than any of the expensive pink nasty things we checked out at the toy store.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Zombie Hallowe'en Invasion on Bank Street


This week, I met up with the Bank Street BIA and had a chat about a pretty cool Hallowe’en event they’re putting together. Hallowe’en is by far my favourite holiday, so I’m always looking for new fun things to do on the big day; this bit of fun runs during the day, so you can literally make your entire Hallowe’en into a spectacular!

The BIA is hosting a Zombie Invasion on Hallowe’en day, from 11-3pm. Head down to Bank Street between Wellington and Gladstone, and keep a watchful eye out for zombies…they’ll be prowling about, looking for fresh brains. But unlike your usual zombie experience, you don’t want to run away this time: try to stifle your fear and actually let the zombies get you. The pay-off: they’ll string a lanyard around your neck which will carry an electronic key. This key can be tested on three coffins at La Prep cafĂ© on Bank Street, and if your key opens a coffin, you’ll be the winner of a $500, $1000, or $1500 shopping spree.

Cool, right? I’m particularly curious to see how people handle the zombies if they didn’t get the news brief before heading downtown. It should be a roaring good time!

I hope you’ll join me down in the Bank Street business area and enjoy the show. Come in costume, or just in your business suit, and partake in the fun!

Bank St BIA
Zombie Invasion
Hallowe’en Day
Wellington to Gladstone along Bank St

Monday 14 October 2013

Better in an Hour: DIY Canopy Bed

Since Alan moved in, we've been working on making the house feel 'finished'. The bedroom is the only space
left in the house that I haven't managed to choose a paint colour for yet, but something needed to be done until a colour is chosen and the room can really come together. We happened upon a gorgeous orange and gold sari at a textile sale, and this canopy bed came to be.

Here's an easy DIY for your home that only takes about an hour, and can add some real drama to your space.


-Sari, or other long stretch of fabric
-push pins
-2 dowels
-4 plant hooks


1. Measure your bed.
You want to make sure that the canopy will hang directly down the centre, regardless of whether the fabric smaller or larger than your actual bed. It's a bit of basic math, but let's say your bed is 6 feet wide and your fabric is 4 feet wide, you'll need to measure inwards by 1 foot on either side of the bed to make sure it comes out centered. Mark this on the wall if need be.

2. Measure for your dowels.
Measure so that your dowels will be centered in much the same way. Be sure to screw in your hooks a few inches inwards so that the dowels won't slip off the hooks at the ends. You can also choose to have a full canopy (where the furthest dowel lines up with foot of the bed) or a partial canopy (where the canopy only hangs over the bed by a few feet.)

3. Screw in your hooks, hang your dowels.
Once the dowels are hung, you may also find it helps to stick a pushpin into the dowel ends beyond the hooks, so that as they move and roll for the next step, they don't slip free of the hooks.

4. Slide your fabric into place.
Put your fabric in behind the dowels, and be sure the pretty side is facing downwards toward the bed. Decide how much fabric you want hanging down at the end. For our room, it looked best to have only about a foot of fabric hanging. Sliding the fabric into space can be frustrating, as your dowels will turn and twist, but be patient; you're almost done.

5. Tack the fabric.
Use gold or silver old-school thumbtacks to tack the fabric along the wall at the head of the bed so that you don't pull it down in the night. Add a couple of tacks to the fabric where it touches the dowels so that it won't roll off the dowels, either.

We took a few minutes before final reveal and painted our dowels gold to match the fabric. Not necessary, but nice.

Voila! You have an easy, pretty canopy bed. Impress your friends, impress your mate, and add some
ambiance to your quarters--in under an hour, no less.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

What does the Fawkes say?

I got a puppy yesterday. God help me. 

Fawkes is an Australian Shepherd. Currently he weighs in at about twelve pounds, and is nine weeks old. He has been here for less than 24 hours, and he already knows how to open the box that holds his bag of food.

This is going to be very different from Mr Darcy, my geriatric pug dog who couldn’t even figure out that he could get through a sideways ladder when I used it to block him into the dining room.

Fawkes is an early Christmas present from my parents, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Mr Darcy was my college graduation present, so clearly there’s a theme here: my parents are officially the best present-gifters in the world.

Everyone was on board with the decision to get me a new dog. Dogs hold a special role in my life: as someone who never stops moving/thinking/talking/doing, my dog is my sidekick. And my confidante. And my motivation. And my familiar. We opted for an Aussie because I wanted the experience of a companion who was smart enough to take on trips, because he probably wouldn’t spend twenty minutes barking at a shoebox.

Fawkes and I are going to see Europe. I don’t know when that’ll happen, but it’s in the plans. Other people may tag along, but either way, I’ve got Fawkes. This makes me braver than usual. I can’t explain it; you’d have to live in my head to understand.

This is also a tool for stopping me from going nuts, as I currently work from home and, when left without someone/thing to play with, I go a little stir-crazy. Okay, that’s an understatement: I’m one step short of Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Fawkes spent his first night here having nightmares and mewling like a kitten. I must reiterate my previous statement that people who make babies are insane: I had to take him out twice in the night, and that was annoying enough without having to also, say, allow some creature to suck on my boob. More power to you, though, breeding couples: without you, I’d have no humans to talk to—and occasionally I do like human contact.

Mr Darcy is still missed everyday. I don’t think that’ll ever stop, because Darcy wasn’t a dog so much as a weird little old man who chose to reside with me. Fawkes isn’t here to replace Darcy, which would be impossible…but he’s going to be a great new friend.

More about Fawkes when I’ve had some real sleep. Right now, just enjoy the photos.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Soundwave Art: Bauss Makes Techie Art


Earlier this year I got word of a local company called Bauss. Bauss specializes in something called ‘biometric art’, which I keep describing as, ‘You can make your soundwaves into pretty picures.” Anyway, Bauss wanted me to see how I liked their concept, because it’s different than some of the other companies out there: you get to actually see what your piece is going to look like while you order it. I am probably the least techie young person you’ll ever meet, so I said I was happy to try out the site and be painfully honest about how hard or easy it was.

I’m telling you now: it was incredibly easy. So easy, even I could do it, and that’s saying something.

Probably the hardest part was deciding on a soundbyte to use. We don’t have wedding vows we wanted memorialized, or a special speech or some such thing. But what we did have was two pieces of footage in which each of our recently-deceased dogs were barking happily. With an extra email to Bauss for permission and instructions on emailing the second soundbyte, we were on our way.

Upload your sound file. (They support many different file types.)

Choose your colour palette. We have a lot of red in the house,
so it was an easy choice.

Choose a medium. We went with canvas, and it's a lovely deep
gallery style.

Choose your size, and add text if desired. (We went with blank.)

Production and shipping takes a few weeks, so plan accordingly. You'll get an update email when your package ships.

The end result is very pretty, and very subtle. Not all of us want a watercolour painting of our departed dog on the wall—it’s not my style, and it’ll be a while before looking at pictures of Mr Darcy makes me happy again—so this was a great way to commemorate the hounds. There’s a real sense of ‘life’ in the art, and I can visually see their voices raised in joyful chaos at the sight of an airplane (that’s Mr Darcy) and a happy howl (that’s Justice).

The price tag on these pieces isn’t small—you’re looking around 250.00 for a small piece like the one we have here—but for the right occasion, it’s worth every penny. Picture having your dad’s speech from your wedding day, or your baby’s first cry at birth, or an “I love you” from your partner who’s stationed overseas. Picture a large-sized piece in a boardroom or foyer, depicting the inaugural speech of a company’s founder. Our auditory memories are such powerful things; it’s pretty incredible when you can see them displayed in vibrant colour and shape.

You can follow Bauss on twitter and Facebook, and head overto their site to try out their DIY-style system.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Comiccon Cosplay Conflict: MTL Comiccon and sexism

I wrote a post that just went live on Geek Inked Magazine, talking about my experience at this year's Montreal Comiccon where a fanboy tried to call me out on my Green Lantern knowledge. You can check out the post here.

While I found the situation incredibly frustrating, I have to appreciate the fact that the Universe sent ME this particular experience to contend with...the same ME with the blog, the Geek Girls group, and my status as a contributor to Geek Inked Mag. It's a running joke that when sh*t happens to a blogger, they just roll with it because it's all good blog fodder. I gotta admit, two seconds after it happened, my only thought was, "I am SO blogging this."
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