Sharing the Awesome Archive

Tammy Scott-Zelt, Curling Fanatic!

Posted March 14, 2015 By Linda

My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome moms, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about. I have to warn you though – creativity is contagious! 

curling rocksMy guest today is Tammy Scott-Zelt, an excellent role model for sport and fitness! In the summer she’s busy playing and coaching soccer, and in the winter she’s involved in curling. Since the Canadian men and women won gold medals for curling at the last Olympics, I thought it’d be cool to learn what it’s all about from an expert.


Read the remainder of this entry »

Marion O’Connor, Gardening Guru

Posted March 3, 2015 By Linda

My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about. I have to warn you though – creativity is contagious!



graden bella wmToday’s special guest is my mom, Marion O’Connor, a gardening guru. Her garden is the prettiest on the street and filled with a huge variety of beautiful colour, shape and scent. She’s here to share some tips on filling your garden.




Read the remainder of this entry »

Brad Kratky, Spectacular Programmer

Posted March 1, 2015 By Linda

My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about. I have to warn you though – creativity is contagious!

Save QB icon

Save QB! game app


Today’s special guest is my super-talented son, Brad Kratky! Brad graduated with an Honours Computing Degree and is in the midst of completing a medical degree. Plus in his spare time (say what?) he developed a really fun game app called Save QB! You have to tap shapes on the screen to prevent them from reaching a cute little guy named QB.


Here’s a snippet:




Isn’t that cool? Brad, how did you get the idea to create a game app? B: Initially I just wanted to learn how to create an app. I started learning Android and the basic drawing tools Android uses. One of the easiest things to draw onto the screen is a circle. When I was experimenting with the circles, and figuring out how to make them appear, grow, and shrink over time, I came up with the idea for Save QB!

I love that! How did you come up with the design for QB? He’s so cute. B: As the idea for the game started to come together, I decided to create a level-based reflex game where you needed to tap circles quickly. Instead of racing against time or losing when the circles collided, I decided to have another object that the circles were forbidden to collide with. A square was the natural choice, since everyone knows they’re the nemesis to circles. Even with the basics of the game in place, I felt it needed a little extra to make it more fun. I recalled a presentation I had seen online, “Juice it or Lose it”, which describes general ways to make a game “juicy”. In the words of the presenters, “A juicy game feels alive and responds to everything you do
…tons of cascading action and response for minimal user input.” One of their ideas was to add faces to inanimate objects…for some reason it makes everything feel more fun!

It’s true – QB is so adorable I really want to save him! What do you have to consider when you’re designing a game app? B: Two major considerations in any software product are time and space. In a real-time game, it’s important to have an efficient game engine that can draw everything to the screen as many times as possible, to produce a final product that runs smoothly. This means it has to run fast – all the drawing and physics/collision calculations need to complete in a timely manner. The amount of computer memory the game uses is also an important consideration. Often, speed can be improved by utilizing more memory, but memory can be relatively limited on mobile devices, so it’s important to balance these two aspects.

(There’s a time in every mother’s life when the child gets smarter than the parent – it’s a bit scary). What did you learn along the way? B: Developing the app separately for Android and iPhone, I learned a lot about developing code for both. There are two things I would do differently next time. I wouldn’t custom design each level – level design is very time consuming, and I would plan which platforms to deploy before I start. Separately developing for both Android and iPhone, while educational, was also very time consuming.

I learned everything using free resources online. Google and Apple’s developer documentation is very useful, but by far the most valuable resource was (a site where developers can post and answer questions about code).

Wait! We paid good money for that computing degree. You mean to say, you could have learned it all for free? (Could you show Mark how that’s done :D) What’s involved in getting a game on iTunes and Google Play? B: Google Play is really easy – by using a Google Account and simply reading and accepting the terms of use, you can upload your app to Google Play on the same day.

iTunes is a little more involved. Due to Apple’s restrictions on app distribution (apps can only be distributed through the official store), Apple requires digital certificates to be signed and verified. In the process of creating an account, there are additional legal tax forms, which have to be mailed to Apple. This takes time. To upload the app to the store, Apple then reviews the app for integrity and security, which takes 4-7 days to complete. Fortunately I was approved on the first try, but this could quickly become very lengthy if any problems are found.

Are you thinking of creating more apps? B: Yes, I have ideas for more apps as well as improvements for Save QB! Unfortunately, school limits the amount of time I have to devote to programming.

Any advice for people who would like to create a game app? B: Keep it very simple, and make one. Even basic ideas tend to balloon out in terms of the estimated amount of work, and the most important thing is to completely finish the app. The best way to learn is to delve into the development world, so I would encourage aspiring game developers to start any simple game.

What song would be your theme song? B: My current theme song, silence, is pretty good since I think I would get tired of any song if I heard it every time I entered a room.

Haha. What would you pick as a superpower? B: The power to gain more superpowers!  (Is that cheating?)  The power to change and travel through time would be pretty cool.

What’s your favourite dessert? B: Dark chocolate!  70% cocoa is the scientifically proven optimal percentage.


😀 Proof that he has my genes! Thank you so much for coming and sharing this with us. We’re in awe of all that you do! Plus I love you (little heart emoticon here). Check out Brad’s website (click HERE). And if you’d like to check out Save QB! you can find it on iTunes and Google Play. It’s fun for all ages, starts out easy (for all of us non-gamers) and then becomes challengingly fast – tons of fun (and I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom) for a mere .99!


Liesa Cross, Magnificent Mom

Posted January 29, 2015 By Linda

My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome moms, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about. I have to warn you though – creativity is contagious!

 back of Liesa's head

Liesa Cross is one of my best friends. I think we met at mom and tot gymnastics and I’m sooooo happy we met. Early on, we spent a lot of really fun hours together at play groups, parties with our families, and camping.


Liesa, when we were raising our kids, you had the best ideas! My favourite was sneaking nutrition into everything the kids ate! Pure genius! How did you start that? L: I became very interested in nutrition when I was in university, took several courses as part of my degree. It was also at this time that my father, at the age of 50, took up triathlon training and began competing at the world-class level. Nutrition is such a major component of elite athlete training.

When my children were born, I wanted to do the best I could to ensure that they were getting all necessary nutrients. As every mother knows, kids can be picky eaters. Mine were. I did a lot of research looking for inventive ways to ‘trick’ my kids into eating things they didn’t want to eat.

 Any funny moments when your children realized you were doing this? L: I don’t know if they realized it at the time, but now, at age 20 and 23, they talk about some of my tricks. My daughter tells me that she remembers when I used to tell my son that every white meat (pork, fish) was chicken because he liked chicken and if I told him what it really was, he wouldn’t eat it. My son won’t eat bananas now because he says I fed him too many when he was a kid. (I would cut them into coins then roll them in graham cracker crumbs and called them banana cookies. They loved them!)

Recently my daughter was home and watched me cook beets for dinner. She said, “Eww, yuck, how can you eat those? That was always my least favourite no-thank-you helping.” I always made my kids eat a no-thank-you helping of anything they didn’t want to eat or try. It would just be a bite or two.

That’s a great way to get them to try new foods! You shared a lot of excellent parenting resources. I remember listening to Barbara Coloroso’s Kids Are Worth It! audiobook while I was making a pie and watching Thomas Phelan’s Magic 1-2-3 video with my husband – both borrowed from you.  How did you find these resources? L: I have to give credit a psychiatrist that I was working with in the early 1990s when my children were toddlers. She had specialized in pediatrics before coming to work with us on the adult unit. She introduced me to 1-2-3 Magic. (It really worked like magic with my kids!)

Barbara Colorosa did a seminar/talk in town about that time too, and I attended with some other mom friends. I loved her advice: “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you said you were going to do.”

Remember how she described the 3 types of parents-jellyfish, brick wall and backbone? I strived to be that ‘backbone’ parent.


balloon-boylittle cartoon girlI’ve raised 3 sons and you’ve raised a son and daughter. Are there any differences in raising girls and boys? L: I don’t think there are any major differences in raising girls vs boys. They have different interests, but as far as raising them, I believe that was the same. We treated them equally, expectations were the same for both.

What was your favourite thing to do with your children? L: Holidays and travelling with my children. These were always happy times. It was fun to see them so excited to explore something/someplace new. And it was time spent together.

Any advice for new moms? L: Relax, enjoy the time with them, it passes all to fast!

Can you share a recipe? L: Here are 2 of our favourites. Mitchell’s Bionic Spice Cookies (made with baby pablum) and No Sugar Muffins (sweetened with dates I pureed in the blender).

Mitchell’s Bionic Spice Cookies

½ cup soft margarine               ¾ cup whole-wheat flour

¾ cup brown sugar                  ½ tsp baking soda

1 egg                                       ½ tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice

1 tsp vanilla                              ½ cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

2 Tbsp orange juice

2 cups infant cereal

Combine the first 5 ingredients. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix together. Roll into small balls and flatten with a fork. Bake at 375°F for 7-9 minutes (if small), until slightly golden.

No Sugar Muffins

Combine and mix in a blender:

1 apple, unpeeled but cored

½ cup pitted prunes

½ cup pitted dates (soften in ¼ cup boiling water and add the water too)

Add and blend again:

2 small bananas

3 eggs

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ cup orange juice

1 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

 In a bowl combine:

1 ½ cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup skim milk powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Pour blender mixture over flour mixture. Mix until combined. Spoon batter into greased muffin mold or silpat muffin mat. Bake at 350°F oven 20-25 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.

Mmmm. They sound delicious! What would you pick as a superpower? L: I’d love to be able to speak every language on earth to have the ability to communicate with anyone, everywhere.

Oh – good answer! That would be handy. What’s your favourite dessert? L: Anything with caramel and chocolate!

That probably explains why I have about 10 chocolate and caramel dessert recipes!

Bella card by Karen 2 friends on a bench


Liesa, thank you so much for stopping by. Now that the kids have grown, we’ve moved from doing mom and tot activities to having girls’ night out activities. I’m so glad you’re part of my life!

Florence Niven, Glass Artist

Posted December 29, 2014 By Linda

My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome moms, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about. I have to warn you though – creativity is contagious!

Florence Niven, super-talented glass artist, is my guest today. She can make anything out of glass – from elegant jewelry to whimsical ornaments to stunning large glass panels – even 14 little birds for my mom!!

glass poppiesHow did you get started as a glass artist? FN: My background is in Graphic Design and Illustration. I was a greeting card illustrator for years. In 2000, I took a stained glass course that completely changed the direction of my work and I replaced my paintbrush with a glass cutter. I now work full time as a glass artist.

What is the process involved in making a piece? FN: Each piece starts with a concept and design. My background in Graphic Design informs how I work. Like any glass designer I know the limitations of glass and how to work around them. This for me is the most enjoyable part of the process. It’s like solving a puzzle – eliminating any unnecessary pieces while maintaining a strong design; building a strong foundation with pieces and layers of glass. I have to think in 3 dimensions, working from the base up; being mindful of what will happen once the layers of glass are subjected to the 1200+ degrees of the kiln.

Yikes – 1200+ degrees in a kiln – how thick is the users manual with that 🙂? FN: The firing process involves trial and error and careful note making. Tweaking your firing schedules is crucial to getting the result you are looking for. Too high a temperature will give you a lovely puddle of glass. Nice only if you were aiming for a lovely puddle of glass. Taking the temperature of the glass up or down too quickly will cause a stress fracture in the finished piece – destroying hours of work in a few seconds. (I urge you to have chocolate on hand for moments like these…) Most kilns are regulated by a programmable control panel. My kiln allows me to save 6 different firing schedules that I can alter depending on the project. These allow me a wide range of firing options.

Man – no ‘undo’ button, eh? (Maybe your superpower should be to rewind the clock!) Where do you find your inspiration? FN: I’m constantly inspired. I have a notebook with me at all times. I see ideas in nature, on TV, in movies, books, fashion. Often the project that I am working on will lead me to other avenues. I think after you’ve done this for a while you become attuned to the ideas that are bouncing around, and capturing them before they disappear becomes second nature.

Do you work from a plan or do you tend to wing it and wait to see the effects of the glass? FN: I am a graphic designer as well as a Virgo, so ‘winging it’ is not in my vocabulary.

; )

I always have a design mapped out including type of glass and color choices long before I start the messy work of cutting the glass.

glass bowl with polka dotsHow do you choose the colors? FN: I used to be intimidated by color and didn’t feel I was particularly good at choosing them. I now have a strong sense of what will work together so am a little more courageous. Color options in glass, generally speaking, are quite limited – it’s not like paint that you can mix to create your own variations. You choose sheets of glass the way you would choose fabric – what you see is, most of the time, what you get. (Some glass changes color with the heat of the kiln.)

I am finding that the palette for my smaller items – my angels and Christmas ornaments – is becoming, by choice, somewhat limited – with lots of white and just a small hit of color. For my larger pieces, like my bowls, I enjoy combining a strong opaque glass, which can be a bit bossy, with the playfulness of a transparent glass.

Beyond the artistic process, how do you manage the business side of it? How far and wide do you sell your pieces? FN: I have an online Etsy shop that allows me to ship items worldwide. I also show my work at 4 different galleries and they ship pieces on my behalf. I have pieces in Tokyo, Australia, the UK and throughout Canada and the United States. The rather large panel that is presently in Australia was shipped by an airline in a piece of my customer’s checked luggage. Not sure how that one survived, but surprisingly it did. (She did not tell me beforehand of her plan…)

I order most of my shipping supplies online and they are delivered to me within 48 hours. The Fall season is typically my busiest when I spend a great deal of time at the ‘Angel Factory’ either making or shipping angels. I receive orders throughout the day, pack them as the orders come in and ship them out the next morning.

That’s pretty awesome that people all over the world are enjoying your art. If someone wanted to become a glass artist what advice would you give them? FN: I would advise anyone wanting to work as an artist to make sure they have a strong design foundation and realistic expectations. Being a working artist is not for the fainthearted. You have to be committed to your craft and willing to forge your own path. I started out as a greeting card designer long before the Internet made mailing cards obsolete. I have switched directions in my work many times over the years and have done so because I remain highly motivated not to work for anyone else. It is easier to be a working artist if you know what the design rules are beforehand, so you can decide which work for you and which you are going to bend.

What was the most exciting moment for you in your work? FN: I received a voice mail a couple of years ago from a woman in Washington interested in my work. I called back assuming I was calling Washington State, but actually it was the Canadian Embassy in Washington. That was pretty exciting.

I just sold my 1000th item on Etsy this year. That was fun too.

photo Florence angels copyWow – Congratulations!! That’s a lot of successful kiln firing 🙂! What do you love about what you do? FN: Every now and then – usually when I am in the middle of my busiest season, knee deep in angels, wondering how I ever got to this place – I receive an order that totally alters my perspective. The first time this happened, a group of women contacted me through Etsy about their friend – a young woman who had lost her little girl to cancer. The friends were rallying around her and commissioned me to make a little girl angel ornament for the grieving mother and identical angels for each of the friends.

This year I received requests from two separate hospitals. The first was for a shipment of Mended Heart ornaments for a Pediatric Cardiology unit. The woman who contacted me had been looking for symbols of hope and healing. Shortly after I received another request for 100 angels that could be handed out during an annual perinatal bereavement memorial service.

I am honoured and humbled by these requests and find myself thinking – ‘Ah, yes. This is why I do what I do.’

 Art that touches people’s hearts is the best kind of art. What song would be your theme song? FN: I would like to be able to name a strong ‘empowering woman’s anthem’ kind of song. The kind that makes you stand a little taller and roar a little louder. However, when I look back over the path my work has taken me, with its many ups and downs, bumps and hurdles, and the fact that I keep moving forward, I’d have to say a more realistic theme song is the simple little Garden Song:

“Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.

All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground.

Inch by inch, row by row, Someone bless the seeds I sow.

Someone warm them from below, ’til the rain comes tumbling down.


Pulling weeds and picking stones, we are made of dreams and bones.

Feel the need to grow my own ’cause the time is close at hand.

Grain for grain, sun and rain, find my way in nature’s chain,

to my body and my brain to the music from the land.”

Lovely. What would you pick as a superpower? FN: Oh I would love to be able to clone myself. I would have one of me taking orders, another me handling shipping, another me designing, another me cutting glass, another me running out for groceries….

Haha – the world would be a better place with more of you! What’s your favourite dessert? FN: Chocolate. Hands down. End of discussion. Doesn’t even have to be good chocolate. A handful of baker’s chocolate chips works just fine in emergencies.

Thank you very much for sharing your art here, Florence! Our Christmas tree is filled with your ornaments and I’m looking forward to adding more each year!

You can find more of Florence Niven’s Glass Original artwork at:

Flickr        Etsy Shop

Kayse Boldt, Zumba Instructor

Posted December 9, 2014 By Linda

My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome moms, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about. I have to warn you though – creativity is contagious!

Kayse Boldt, Zumba Instructor extraordinaire, is my guest today. If you love to dance, Zumba is the class for you. No more dragging your feet to the gym!

Kayse and her dad at a Zumba convention. Fun!

Kayse and her dad at a Zumba convention. Fun!

Kayse, how did you get interested in Zumba?  K: I first heard about Zumba fitness from my parents who were taking a class together. My mom bought me the set of DVDs that Christmas, and I loved it instantly. I love the idea of exercise that doesn’t seem like exercise, and I have always loved to dance, so it was a perfect fit for me. I never intended to teach Zumba classes, but my dad convinced me to take a training course with him in 2009, and after some thought I thought I would give it a try. I am glad that I did!

I’ve been to classes with your dad. He’s awesome, too! What does being an Instructor involve?  K: To become licensed to teach Zumba, you need to take a Basic Steps Level 1 course. It is a full day course. I also took a group fitness certification to give me more of a background in the fitness field. After you take the Level 1 course you can join the Zumba Instructor’s Network (ZIN) for which you pay a monthly fee or you can teach for a year and then retake your training. The benefit of joining ZIN is that you get songs sent to you monthly (every other month choreography is included), you are eligible to take more trainings and specialty licenses and you can attend conferences that are held throughout the year.

How long does it take you to learn a new dance?  K: It really depends on the song! Sometimes I get new music and feel immediately inspired and have the song ready for the next day. Other songs I can listen to for months before I actually use them in class. I would say that, on average, I listen to a song about 10-15 times before I “know it”. I usually work on the choreography as I listen to it.

I didn’t realize that you choreographed the dances! How do you decide which songs to put together for a 1 hour class?  K: I usually start with a warm up song, then pick a song with simple movements for the first song. Our classes are to be made up of 70% international music and 30% instructor’s choice. So the majority of the songs I pick tend to have a latin beat (salsa, meringue, reggaeton, cumbia, flamenca) and then I try to pick songs that I think people might enjoy.

Do you have to wear certain clothing? K: I can wear whatever I feel comfortable in. Generally, I try to pick clothes that I think are fun. Nice, bright colours are always good!

Funniest moment? K: I would have to say that people copying my movements like wiping my forehead or waving at someone that I have seen come in the room always cracks me up. I forget that everyone is so accustomed to following my every move. I often wonder if I fell down if the whole class would follow me!

We would, and think it was part of the dance! You switch from an elegant Flamenco dancer to an Irish step to hip hop seamlessly and capture the essence of each dance with your posture and movement. Do you have any formal dance training?  K: I do not have any formal dance training, just a love for music and movement. I feel free when I dance, like I could do anything.

What is your favourite thing about being a Zumba Instructor?  K: I never knew how much I could love doing something. I love that I get to go to work and make people smile. I love that I can help people stay active and improve their health and well-being. I love that it is an outlet for my participants (and myself) to get rid of stress and worries. I especially love the relationships I have formed with the people in my classes. It is an amazing support system.

If someone is interested in becoming a Zumba Instructor, what advice would you give them?  K: I think I would tell them that they should be prepared to put in a lot of hours if you want to do a good job. Also, teach because you love it. It sounds like a great thing to make money to teach fitness classes, but you can only teach so much before your body gets overworked.

Zumba cake designed and decorated by Kayse!

Zumba cake designed and decorated by Kayse!

You also balance a part-time job, being a mom, and cake decorating. How do you make it all work?  K: Is it working?? Just kidding! I think I try to balance what is most important to me. Right now my focus is my kids since they are still young enough to need me around. As long as they are happy, then I can make it work. I won’t lie, there are days that I feel like I am being pulled in several directions, but that won’t last forever. I just try to enjoy every day and roll with the punches. Things have a way of working themselves out.

What song would be your theme song?  K: I am not sure. I like songs that inspire me. My favourite song of the moment is Rather Be by Clean Bandit. It reminds me how much I love my family. I also like Roar by Katie Perry and Brave by Sara Bareilles. I have come through some tough times (haven’t we all!) and both songs remind me how strong I have become and how much I have grown as a person as I have gotten older.

What would you pick as a super power?  K: I think there would be nothing more useful than being able to clone myself!

 Haha. No more ‘I need to be in two places at once’ dilemmas. What is your favourite dessert?  K: I would have to say a real New York style cheesecake from Junior’s in NYC. So decadent!

Kayse, thank you very much! I feel very lucky that I found your classes – they’re so much fun! Be active everyone. I’ll see you at Zumba. Linda