2021 Fourth Quarter Books

Okay okay okay. I did a terrible job of tracking my books this quarter. Shame on me. I also did that thing where I put many many books on hold and they all come available at the same time. Yikes. Which means there are also loads of books that came home with me, and I barely cracked the spine before they had to make their way back to the library. They usually make it back on the hold list, but there were a few duds this quarter that I was not sad to return early.

Keeping the above in mind, it surprised me to see how few books I read this quarter. It felt like I was always moving a book off the couch or table to make room. But perhaps it was always just the same two books!


It used to be that I could choose a favourite book quite easily. I suppose with reading more books, it becomes more difficult to choose just one. At any rate, I was having another hard time and was ready to create a “4th Quarter Favourites List” when I read the final book in the Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers (The Galaxy & the Ground Within). Nothing can possibly touch her way of writing heartfelt, exciting, beautiful, fully-formed aliens doing mundane things. I eagerly await anything else she writes. I am beyond blessed to be living in her time.

This book follows a random grouping of folks who become stranded at a rest stop. Their hosts are furry and eager to please, but all the travelers want to do is get on their way. Each Alien has their own backstory and baggage. They spend a few days together and become the bestest friends, despite their differences. There is a lot going on, and yet also not much at all. There are a lot of snacks. All five beings have to negotiate being very stuck in a small place together, and Becky Chambers keeps things moving perfectly. There are a lot of scary, boring, action-packed, eating, and heartwarming moments.

I grabbed a mystery bag of books at my local library with the theme of “food based mysteries” and oh my god. I was not prepared for the sub-genre of food crime. There were recipes, there was so much awful banter and cringe. But I somehow loved it, and I will probably seek out more titles when my brain needs a break from the stuff I usually dig into.

2021 Results and 2022 Goals

In the fall of 2021 I started to struggle with the way I had written my goals, compared to what I wanted to achieve. I called them “white supremacy” goals. I was ticking off boxes for diversity, and patting myself on the back for each POC or Indigenous author I read. I was using these folks as trophies in my bookcase and it felt awful, and gross. But I also really love reading books by “more diverse” authors, which I concluded meant “less white women, and even less white guys especially if they are old and straight.”

I am still doing work around this, and will probably struggle with how best to frame my goals in 2022 and beyond. And maybe that means I won’t have specific reading goals. Diversity doesn’t mean anything if you don’t back it up and change the system that makes things un-diverse in the first place. Yeah I’m pretty sure that isn’t a word.

Ignoring those goals I am having *feelings* about, I still found victories in 2021. Looking at my overall goal to read 70 books, I came in at 83. Every year I put “read one book of poetry” on the list, and my spreadsheet is showing me that I read zero. Well, dangit. At least I found eight books of essays or short stories this year, outstripping my goal by three. There were some high hopes in January of recording more videos where I talk about books. Thankfully, I did none of those. But I still enjoy these quartery roundups, and met my goal to do one per quarter. They are all linked at the bottom of this post if you want to get the full effect.

I read 61 books by women! I read 15 non-fiction books, which was a struggle for me for many years. I read a book that was translated into English and it was really weird! More of all that please.

I know I want to read more books overall in 2022, and I want to really expand the authors I reach for. Kind of related is the fact that I have been spending more time working inside the library lately and I love it. More of that is on the list for 2022 as well, which makes it a reading-adjacent goal I suppose. Lucas also seems more keen on going to the library so it pleases me to the dang moon that I will get to share this with him.

2022 is the year I really expand into my reading in a new way.


Here are the other three recap posts from 2021: 1st quarter, 2nd quarter, 3rd quarter.

Reflecting on Three Years of Sobriety

I call December 28 my “Soberversary”. Way back in 2018, I made a decision to stop drinking. I thought it would last a year or so, and then I would re-evaluate. But I very quickly realized that this was a forever thing for me.

Every year that goes by, I notice more things about my sobriety, and about alcohol in our culture. I have become hyper aware of the pervasiveness of alcohol in our society. And the normalization of the drinking requirement to socialize and to “fix” things in our lives. I personally don’t need alcohol to have fun or experience belonging. And I firmly believe that the opposite to addiction is connection, and that despite all the social drinking we partake in, we are continuing to lose our sense of belonging to each other and to our community.

I can say no and am confident when speaking up about my sobriety. But I need to learn better ways to have conversations that de-normalize drinking. Sobriety is part of who I am, it’s part of my purpose and my goals, so I often ask myself “is what I am doing or about to do getting me closer to my goals or helping me be the person I want to be?” With alcohol the answer was always “no.” How do I share that without preaching or shaming? I’m still working on that.

I have never identified myself as an “alcoholic” and now that I am more comfortable using person-first language, I probably never will. My experience taught me that you don’t have to identify as an “alcoholic” to want to quit drinking. Perhaps because of that, not everyone understands why I pursue sobriety.

While I miss gin, I don’t miss hangovers and lost time. Time, which it feels like I have so much more of now. Everyday I choose to not fuel my complicated relationship with alcohol. Most days it’s really easy for me, and I feel really lucky to know I made the right choice.


My Year (At Least) of Sobriety – Not Ladylike Blogspot

Celebrating One Year of Sobriety – Not Ladylike Blogspot

Top 5 Reasons to Create a Summer Memories Scrapbook

(and how I made mine in 2021)

I just finished the last detail in my 2021 Summer Memories Mini Album. It has been so fun to look back through it this week, add the finishing touches, and relive my summer. Here are my TOP FIVE reasons you should create a summer memories scrapbook. Bookmark this post and add it to your calendar for the next Summer Solstice!


Number 1: Summer goes by so fast! When I start adding up the weekends, alternating weeks with my son, vacation days and stat holidays between the Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox…y’all that number isn’t as big as I would like it to be! It’s so easy for me to get to the end of summer and think “I didn’t do anything.” Or get stuck in the thought loop of “there isn’t enough time”. And then I don’t do anything because I was obsessed with maybe not doing everything. In my experience, it can be a vicious circle. Documenting events and activities as I go helps me slow down and enjoy the time.

Number 2: It’s important to celebrate the little things along with the big. It is easy to remember that we celebrated my son’s 16th birthday party in the park with his family in 2021. But the time I met my SIL and nephew in the park for lunch gets fuzzy without the photo reminder. Or the not-so-great food court sushi trip. Those were still fun victories this summer, but they seem kind of “minor” in the grand scheme of things. They are still important to celebrate.

Number 3: It is so fun to look back on and relive those memories. I put the finishing touches on this book in December 2021, and it stopped me in my tracks. Some of these events were only three months ago, but I had forgotten the details. This book reminds me of the good, great, and silly times. It reminds me that I have a joy-filled life.

Number 4: Your kids will thank you for it. And if not your kids, then maybe your grandkids, or your siblings, or parents. When I think of the momentos I wish I had from my childhood, I yearn for something like this. A simple documentation of the activities my Mom thought were neat or important?! Wowee wow wow! I want that! Even if it was “just” photos and pretty papers. There will come a time that I hope my son cherishes these books as much as I do now.

Number 5: Your story deserves to be told. I know it can sound cliche, but we each have a story to tell and it deserves to make it out there into the world. As a scrapbooking veteran, I have seen so many courses to teach women how to get yourself into your scrapbook. We are very good at taking photos of our family, and kind of awful at turning the camera on ourselves. We’re getting better of course, and books like this are an indication. This book is me bearing witness to my life right now, celebrating important moments, and telling my story. What a gift.


Well, first things first, I need to come up with a shorter name for this. That’s six whole words, that’s a mouthful!

  1. I started by gathering supplies from my stash – paper, stickers, other embellishments – and assembling them all in one spot. A dedicated bin or folder is ideal for this project.
  2. I used what I already had on hand, but you could easily make yourself a “kit” out of new supplies. I really like the mish-mash look of my book, but that’s not everyone’s taste.
  3. Each page came together within a few days of the event, but I waited for ~10 days before printing photos (as I don’t have a photo printer at home). If I was worried I would forget the photo order, I added sticky notes with the event and the date. This also saved me time later when adding the photos back in.
  4. Journaling is key, but keep it simple. I was worried that if I tried to tried every detail of every event or story, I would burnout. And run out of space! A couple of sentences on each layout as a reminder worked really well for me. Alternately, if you did want to tell each story in more detail you can add a large pocket to each page, type out the story and print it, and insert that paper into the pocket.
  5. Make it “right-sized” for your documenting style, but keep it mini. My book is approximately 6″ x 8.5″ x 1.25″ because that’s a typical size for my mini books. I find this amount of space allows for a 4×4 or 4×6 photos to easily fit on the page along with journaling and some embellishing. Too much bigger and it feels less special. Any smaller and it becomes hard to tell the story.

I hope this gives you some ideas on documenting your summer! I plan on making this a tradition. My goals for future years are to:

  • ask for others to contribute
  • add pocket pages for more journaling and photos
  • include my “Summer Would Be Cool If…” list at the front so I can see how much I accomplished
  • add more calendar pages as dividers between the months
  • plan events to help other people build their own Summer Memory album!

How to Build a Mini Layout

You could also try a Family Scrapbook Tradition in your Summer Memories book, and get your whole family involved!

Essay on the recent Parkland Institute Conference

I have been working on more pieces like this as a way to practice essay writing and express my critical thinking. It took me a ridiculously long time to write, and I personally think this piece would maybe get a 60% if graded, so I have a lot of practice ahead of me! Thanks for being gentle in the comment section (wink).

I recently attended the Parkland Institute Conference online. The sessions were spread across three days, with a few “Workshops” scattered within. I mostly found the workshops useless, or rather, the name was inaccurate to the content presented. The sessions were themselves inspiring and informative. The speakers and topics as follows:

  • Dr Pam Palmater, Working Together to Save Our Peoples and the Planet
  • Jim Stanford, Changing Work for Good After Covid
  • Kate Raworth & Ben Geselbracht, Doughnut Economies for Thriving Communities
  • Alicia Elliott, Why We Should All be Activists: What Haudenosaunee Philosophy Can Teach us About Our Responsibility to the Earth

There were a few common themes running through the four sessions, which is unsurprising and just goes to show that they chose their session topics and presenters wisely! The first that really stood out for me is the respect for Indigenous knowledge. And the requirement that we (white, settlers, Global North, etc.) must go back to that in order to find our best way forward. This is linked directly to colonization and de-colonization work we must be doing in ourselves and our communities. In her presentation on Doughnut Economies, Kate Raworth spoke on how Indigenous groups organize themselves, and asked the question “can westerners learn to understand again”. I often think that we have lost so much thanks to our racism and colonialism, how can we even begin to quantify that. Alicia Elliott spoke about how “progress” created the mess we are in (progress mixed with white supremacy). I cheered when Dr. Pam Palmater exclaimed “what about jobs?! As if jobs trump lives, as if jobs trump having a planet!” These two Indigenous women were a powerful and steadying open and close to the Conference. A lof of my personal anti-racism, anti-fascist, anti-white supremacy work and learning lately has been link to the land. This stems from my Not Ladylike Community and recent trips to the mountains and other parts of our province. I instinctively know that we must respect and return to Indigenous knowledge and ways of being in community with the land, but I am still learning what that will look like and the work it will take. Both Alicia and Dr Palmater spoke to that in significant ways. “The land is part of the Haudenosaunee so they protect the lands as they care for themselves,” says Alicia, ever the poet and essayist. Dr. Palmater was a bundle of energy throughout her presentation, and shouts “land back!” Land back equals resources back, but it also means respecting Indigenous sovreignty and governance over their territories. Echoing Alicia, they were born to protect these lands.

This leads in to the next theme, which was top of mind during the other presentations: we have to get rid of what’s not working, not just try to reform it. Looking to the future that we want, what do we need to disrupt to build something new. Something that ensures everyone can thrive while respecting the wellbeing of our planet. Jim Stanford spoke to pre-pandemic problems making working situations specifically worse during the pandemic. One of the solutions is that workers must have the power to raise issues (with their employers or the state) and then win change. This impacts all other solutions to changing work for good, and involves turning many industries on their heads. Kate Raworth encourages us to escape the old idea of constant growth and insists that if we want to change the future we must change the dynamics. I know from experience that manyfolks cannot imagine a future where we are fighting the climate crisis and still enjoying a high quality of life. I agree that it’s difficult to imagine the possibility. But as Nanaimo did, we can divest (as individuals and communities) and move funds to ones that better meet our environmental goals. And maybe that will help our imaginations expand. In response to a question about capitalism vs. socialism, Kate Raworth stated that she doesn’t use those terms. She’s going beyond and getting to the heart of enterprises. The old things are not going to be useful going forward, so let’s get excited about the new ideas. And see how we can push these new ideas forward. This was very inspiring, and something Alicia Elliot stated later reminded me of this: “so many things in our modern world become irrational when considered against Dish With One Spoon Treaty or Seven Generation Knowledge.”

Which brings me to the final theme: everything is connected. And y’all, I am petering out of this essay. It’s been a long time since I wrote one. And I kind of forget how to do it. I have so many great point highlighted from the notes I took, but I am struggling to summarize them in my own voice. I want to capture the feeling and the inspiration I felt in every session. So I am going to dial it in with a list:

  • Human rights and environmental protections are not popularity contests, we are not waiting for a consensus (from Dr. Palmater’s session)
  • White supremacy isn’t a fringe issue; it is the foundation of our society (from Dr. Palmater’s session)
  • When you figure out your boss is trying to kill you, you get angry and fight back! (from Jim Stanford’s session)
  • The Economy = Human Beings
  • Canadian identity = nature as separate, nature as extracurricular (from Alicia Elliott’s session)
  • The nation-state is different from the people who live in Canada, but the nation wants us to believe they are the same things; it is imporatant however to distinguish them (from Alicia Elliott’s session)
  • Everything is interconnected; the doughnut framework allows us to look at it holistically and see all the connections and be connected (from Kate Raworth’s session)
  • Consider land a gift to be acknowledged every day (from Alicia Elliott’s session)
  • The hole in the middle of the donut are where people are falling through; “leave no one in the hole” (from Kate Raworth’s session)
  • Our only constraint is US, our capacity, our ideas, our ingenuity (from Jim Stanford’s session)

I continue to read through my notes, and get re-inspired to be courageous, vulnerable, and build the community we need. I am sorry this essay was mostly garbage, but as I continue to learn and grow I hope to at least inspire you to do the same.


Dr Pam Palmater

Alicia Elliott

Jim Stanford: Centre for Future Work

Kate Raworth: Doughnut Economies

Maude Barlow

Daily Pages Creative Habit

I started this small book at the end of September 2021 in response to a “Daily Pages Challenge” initiated by a favoured online personality and creator. I was looking for a kick in the butt to get back to my craft room, get creative, and take some pressure off. Two months later, one finished book, and a newly started book, I can say that this is a success. And a new creative habit that I will be continuing to practice

Daily Pages are all about pulling a small amount of paper, thoughts, photos, words, or bits of life into a small notebook. They’re a creative habit for you to tell your stories. 

Kristen Tweedale


There are three main takeaways – or lessons – from this first book that I am taking into this daily practice.

  • Use what I have. I didn’t buy any new supplies for this “project”. It is important to me to align my hobbies with my values. That is, anti-capitalism, with a strong fear and understanding of the climate crisis. I have so many beautiful and fun supplies in my stash to use up. And in future books I am excited to try my hand at collage using found items. A mental block to work through in the future is that “no item is too precious to include”.
  • No pressure to make a perfect/beautiful page. Some of these pages are so ugly! Ha! Thankfully the purpose of the book is to be creative every day, and not spend hours agonizing over the placement of each element and create a magazine-worthy spread. It felt very nice to be open to create whatever came to mind with the objects at hand. That is how I learn what I like and also grow as a crafter.
  • Document my day, or just play; it’s all good. I see a lot of the other folks documenting their days via their daily pages habit. Some of my pages were an active documentation of an event or a feeling from the day. But many were not. I only included one photo in this book, and I think this will be a trend.

I have already started on my next book, one that I built myself with some extra stationary from my collection. My most important lesson is that I really love this daily habit. I am grateful I have been able to keep at it, and am building it into my routine. It goes to show that I am not done learning and growing as a creative person.


Daily Pages – My New Creative Habit? (Not Ladylike)

100 Days of Carving Patterns (Not Ladylike)

100 Days of Stamp Carving (Not Ladylike)

The Awesome Ladies Project (rukristin)

Daily Art Habit

September Hiking in Jasper National Park

For Part One of this series – “September Camping in Jasper National Park”, click here.


There are hundreds of trail choices in Jasper National Park, depending on your goals and skill level. We chose three trails that offer a variety of options, for both the seasoned hiker and the tourist with little experience. I wanted to share all three of them here because


Native Land tells me that the following Nations have at one time called these Treaty lands home: Tsuu T’ina, Stoney, Secwepemc, Mountain Metis, Michif Piyii (Metis), Ktunaxa (Kootenay), Aseniwuche Winewak. And a very clever woman whose name I didn’t write down passed along some wisdom from an Elder that we should personalize Land Acknowledgments. I feel that Land Acknowledgments are very important, but also I walk a fine line as a white settler doing them appropriately. (That is perhaps a subject for a future post.) I am personally grateful for all the Indigenous People and peoples who have stewarded this land since time immemorial, that is so important to my personal history, storytelling and wellbeing. I have been visiting Jasper since my birth and have only over the past 5 years started learning the darker truth behind the legacy of our National Parks. Knowing the history, knowing more about this land informs my exploration of Jasper. I am grateful to the knowledge keepers and Elders who have and share this information and I hope to make my ancestors proud as I move through the land with respect and purpose. And teach my son to do the same.

  • A trail option for every level, with increasing effort if you want to take a longer trip (The Meadows trail)
  • Breathtaking views at every turn
  • Opportunity for adventure no matter which level you choose; you could spend all day here exploring
  • My favourite place on earth
  • It costs a lot of money to take the Gondola to the top, but if you can swing it the views are amazing
  • It allows non-hikers to get to the top of a mountain!
  • There are hiking options once you get to the top, and you can explore beyond the area around the tea house
  • There is also a trail connecting the gondola stations if you are feeling extra adventurous and have a lot of hours to spare!
  • Don’t forget to book your flight in advance; we saw lots of disappointed folks leaving the ticket booth
  • Bring a jacket as the temperature at the lower station is always a few degrees warmer than the upper station; it’s a bit of a shock in the summer
  • Great for folks with more experience who want to stay away from the “tourists”
  • Great for folks who have a bit of experience and want to push themselves with a rewarding day hike
  • Very steep, but not a lot of technical areas
  • This is a leg of the Skyline Trail, so you could easily take it a step further if you want to try your hand at backpacking
  • Getting to the top and seeing the view made me cry tears of joy

I love writing about this even though (or perhaps because) it makes me realize how much things have changed for me over my adult life. My hiking style these days is slow with lots of breaks. Heaving breaths, intense focus on where I am stepping. Breaks are good because I like observing. Slow is fine because I cleared my schedule for this and I’m not in a race to get anywhere.

In terms of goals, climbing mountains is fun, but it’s not a requirement. I want to work my body, feel my heart beat, push my legs to their limit. I want to see trees, listen to the wind blowing through them, watch birds flit through the canopy and squirrels chase each other over the dead fall. I want to get outside and feel the ground under my feet, breathe in deep the air of these lands, be in conversation with the natural world that is a part of me (and I a part of it).

I guess I have some specific trail location goals that as well, but they are tied to my excitement in exploring areas that are new to me, that excite my imagination. And are within a few hours drive.


All I want from posts like this is to inspire people to go outside respectfully and with care. It’s not enough to be a tourist in your backyard with conscious consumption and observation, or rather it’s such a shallow thing. Especially considering all the we know about the climate crisis and anti-Indigenous racism that is tied directly to the land. Here are some links you can use to learn and take action around issues directly tied to the land.

What is land back? Briarpatch’s article here, and one from The Breach here featuring Dr Pam Palmater.

Dr. Palmater has loads of resources on her website (and You Tube channel, and podcast) around Indigenous law, sovereignty and nation-building.

Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Territories

1492 Land Back Lane Legal Fund

CPAWS Northern Alberta takes action against coal mining in Alberta

15 Beloved Places Struggling with Overtourism (Conde Nast Traveler) I actually hate how this article still encourages visitors to travel these spots, but their descriptions of the destruction due to tourism is worth a read.

September Camping in Jasper National Park

The “view” from their campsite. That’s the bathroom building in the middle ground.

Wow oh wow I pulled off a last minute (for me), long weekend camping trip to Jasper. In September. With two longs hikes. If feels like I should get at least 3 medals and eighteen gold stars for this one. For being out there only 3 days, we covered a lot of ground. I have so many photos of trees, and mountains, and moss, and clouds, and rivers, and burritos. This post covers our campground set up, meals, and must-have gear. I have lots to say about the mountains, that’s coming too.

We were limited in our choice of campgrounds because of how late I left it to book. Which was fine actually. We have very limited needs and wants in terms of location. Wabasso had the only reservable sites left in Jasper that weekend, for all the nights we needed. So it was the perfect spot! HA! And it was fine (shrug). Most of the trees in these campgrounds have been cut down (pine beetle? renovations?), so they feel less like the forest I remember in my childhood. Gotta love the free firewood I guess?!

Wabasso Campground is situated in between Highway 93A and the Athabasca River. There are hundreds of sites, no hookups, full washrooms and loads of trails along here. In fact, if you wanted to stay close to your site for your entire visit, or use it as your trailhead, you have a lot of options. Always a reminder to be bear-aware, and hike in a group and carry bear spray if you can. Many of the trails along the River are bike-friendly and also so beautiful. Highway 93A connects up to other touristy spots like Athabasca Falls, Mount Edith Cavell & Angel Glacier (watch for a future post), and Marmot Basin (for downhill skiing). A large chunk of this highway is closed in the winter season, so be mindful of that when visiting.


Our camping setup hasn’t changed much over the years, ever since I got it just the way I like it. We have a simple tent and sleeping gear. That’s where most of the $$ is, to be honest. It pays to have a good sleeping pad or mattress and a warm bag. Our bags are army surplus because that’s what Dan likes. We bought our pads at a local shop and they roll up so small. As this is bear country, none of our cooking gear or food stays out on the table, so it makes sense to have the least fussy set up. We tried to set up our shelter but the wind busted one of the screws within a minute, so that came down fast. Packing light is also important due to the size of our vehicle. Mabel the almost-station wagon might look small, but with those seats folded down we have plenty of space for everything we need to bring.

Our camping food is simple, and repeatable. Eggs and toast for breakfast, along with pour over coffee. Burritos and our favourite noodles (recipe at the end) for dinner. And sandwich wraps with fruit for lunch on the trail. This simplicity means we need very few cooking items. Most of our gear is secondhand, or the good stuff Dan bought when he was still a bachelor. I have no gear tips other than keep your eye on the thrift stores for plastic or metal plates and cups, take only what you need (2 people = 2 plates), and get yourself a good, yet small, pot and pan.


Jasper National Park is located on Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 as well as the traditional lands of the Beaver, Cree, Ojibway, Secwépemc, Stoney, and Métis Nation. The First Nations and Métis people who called these lands home were forcibly removed from this area to create both Jasper and Banff National Parks. To learn more about this history, the steps Parks Canada is taking to reconcile with our Indigenous neighbours, and to see how you can experience Indigenous culture on your visit, please explore these links:

Nations of Jasper welcomed back to the Park – The Fitzhugh

The shady past of Parks Canada: forced out, Indigenous People are forging a comeback – National Post

History of Jasper – Municipality of Jasper

Here’s how to experience Indigenous culture in Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park Indigenous Partners – Parks Canada

Jasper National Park – The Canadian Encyclopedia

Dan & Lisa’s Camping Noodles


  • One box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese
  • One package of your favourite vegetarian sausage
  • 1/2 bell pepper, any colour
  • 1/2 onion, any colour
  1. Cook your shells according to the instructions. We like to drain them while they are still very “al dente”, as the shells these days tend to loose their shape very quickly.
  2. Cut your sausage into pieces. Dice the bell pepper and onion. Combine all in a skillet with a bit of cooking oil or butter.
  3. Once pasta is cooked, drain, then add the Velveeta cheese package.
  4. Combine pasta with sausage mix.
  5. Serve hot!