Karen Biko is Jazzed!!

Random thoughts, delights, and opinions…

Project Not for the Birds

Posted Friday, August 1st, 2014
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Over the last couple of years the girls and I have had some fun painting these little bird houses.  They make a nice collection of colour in the garden that I don’t have to water.

We simply drilled a hole in the bottom of each bird house and inserted a stick.  We keep them low to the ground so that the birds don’t actually use them…because we have cats.  And we put them away each winter, otherwise they will fade and fall apart.

If they do fade or start to break, we can fix and re-paint them…so we can always have something new going on.

Bird Houses


Art Day!!

Posted Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
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I’ve joined a group of ladies that meet once a month do do art/craft things.  I’ve got to tell you that I just LOVE these days.  An entire day devoted to being creative and trying out new things.  But it’s funny.  Of the Three times I joined in, two times we did things I’m very familiar with.

First we did photo transfers – this one is tough for me because I don’t really know where to use it for the artwork I do seeing as everything I do is abstract….so that was tough, but still fun to play with.

Second we did silk screen printing – something I had done many years ago with my Gocco.  I used to make Christmas cards every year.  It was so much fun pulling it out of storage and playing with it again.  This time I was using some of my acrylic paints instead of the oil based inks from before…..although I still have lots of those inks too.

Today, the third time we did Paste paper – So again I brought out projects that I’d done years ago, and papers that had not yet been put to use.  This is something really up my alley.  There is nothing like working really fast on a fresh piece of paper to see what textures and designs you can come up with.  At the end of the day I schlepped my have dried papers home to continue the process.  I guess it is time for me to take another look at the book binding box that I’ve just had sitting there.  Like I need more to do.Karen Biko Artist

I guess this is what happens when you have such a creative Mom….so many things I did with her before.  Today I really thought she needs to live here in Calgary so we can do all this together again.  Dang Victoria and all their flowers!!

Goal Planning

Posted Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
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Goal Planning 2014


The Great thing about goal planning is that you get to start fresh….a time to re-evaluate what worked for you last year and what didn’t.  This time is a chance to tweek things, or just to start fresh.  Any successful business person must be able to plan for their business.  I want you to really focus on your business in regards to this goal setting.  Yes, you can apply it to your personal life, and that’s a good thing to do, but for today’s benefit it’s all about your Business.

Now, we’re going into this year with January almost over, but that’s okay.  Any time is a good time to start your goals.  My husband and I have created an annual event on New Years eve where we sit down with a nice glass of wine and talk about the past year, and set our goals for the new year.  We’ve done this for many years, and now our girls join us.

1.  Take a look at last year.  Take a sheet of paper and divide it in half.  On one side write down what worked in 2013.  What got you excited, what your customers liked, what were your successes.  What made you the most money.  And what do you enjoy doing the most.

On the other side write down what didn’t work, things that didn’t make you money, wasted      your time, or you just plain didn’t like.  Think about what you need to stop doing…..perhaps it’s   saying yes to everything that bogs down your life.

2.  Start planning your goals.  First think about the things that were a success, they are already working, what can you do to improve them or stream-line them?  Do this before you start adding new Goals to your list.

The thing about goals is that they should be reasonable, and measurable.  Sure I would like to earn $10,000 a month….but is that reasonable based on how much work I’m prepared to do.   Whether you intend to go hard with your business or not, being clear on your intention and what you can achieve is really important.

3.  Setting goals can also create a great mountain that seems impossible to conquer.  So you need to make sure that your goals are broken down into mini-goals.  When you are able to check off little tasks that will eventually take you to your goal, you will be motivated to continue, and feeling good about your progress.  If you feel good about what you are accomplishing you will continue forward with a positive frame of mind.


Pat Flynn from  SmartPassiveIncome.com  has a great phrase.

Write it down…get your goals out of your head where all the other stuff is rattling around and write it on paper, or a white board.  Once you do this, then the goal is real, and not just a thought.

Break it down…Task it out into little mini-goals.  The only way to get the big goals completed is by giving yourself achievement along the way.

Take it down… this is where you start chipping away at those little tasks, checking them off to   get you closer to your goal.

4.  Review your goals!  This is so important for you to succeed.  Putting all those mini-goals into months so that you can focus on them individually.  If you try to focus on all the mini-goals, you will not be giving the appropriate attention that you need to get that goal completed.  The reason I want you to review your goals monthly is to help you keep on track.  If you fall off, it’s only a month that you need to make up for.  If you review quarterly, you will either forget it’s the quarter, or if you missed the goal, you are now three months behind.


I hope that some of this information will motivate you to give this a try.  I’ve included some worksheets that you can use to take a bit of time to do a bit of goal planning on your own.  I urge you to do this.  Tony Robbins says “if you don’t schedule it, it’s not real”, that is what I want you to think about as you are setting up your goals, and mini-goals for 2014.  I’ve included a couple of worksheets that you might find useful.


Break it Down

Goal Worksheet 2014

Its a Hummer!

Posted Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
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Months ago as I sorted through my daughter’s toys (with the girls) we decided that Barbie time was pretty much over.  So although the girls were not ready to actually get rid of the dolls and the clothes, they were ready to say goodbye to the Barbie vehicles.  This made me very happy because they are big and difficult to store.  So goodbye cars!

Now, months later there is renewed interest in the dolls, and this morning they come to me “Mom, do we still have are Barbie cars?’….nope, they are long gone.  So Katelin goes to the garage and grabs an empty box and starts building a barbie car.  She has spent the morning putting it together with hot glue and bits out of my ‘interesting things box’.  I would say a good three hours.  She has had so much fun making it and is very proud.  We decided that what she has built is a Hummer….well actually the first Convertable Hover Hummer!


Living Life

Posted Saturday, October 1st, 2011
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Tonight I went to my friends’ wedding.  Owen and Tasha.  I have to tell you that I’ve always been so impressed with this couple.  When I met Owen I loved listening to him talk.  He was fast, he was smart, and had such a good business mind.  After meeting him I realized how young he was.

It amazes me to this day how someone so young can really pull everything together and be so smart about business.  I’ve watched Owen and Tasha build their business.  I’ve watched them work very hard for what they have, and I have watched them enjoy life to the fullest.

They have always been personable and caring about the people around them, and that was never more apparent than tonight as I celebrated with their family and other friends.  As I watched pictures of both of their lives I realized that these two have experienced so much more than an average couple, and I am proud to call them friends of mine.

I had a great time and all I can think about Owen and Tasha is how they truly have a lust for life, and living it to the fullest.

Congratulations my friends, and my heart wishes you the best always!!!


Posted Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I worked in the corporate world for many years and often felt like my job was a thankless one.  I do recall that when I had worked for the same company for a whole year and that first anniversary came up I was pretty excited.  Well I was the only one.  There was not even a realization from my boss that I’d been there a year.

Even after I brought it to his attention I got a barely hear-felt “that’s great”.

This one company I ended up working with for many years.  After 5 years, the rest of the team that were hired two months ahead of me got a special Christmas 5 year recognition watch.  I was excited thinking that mine would shortly be on it’s way.  Only to be disappointed again when I was informed that they only gave out the recognition rewards at Christmas, and I would have to wait for the following year.  Then I got a gift certificate for a ‘something’ at a store.  The certificate had to be used on one item, and could not be a partial purchase (so I couldn’t even pick out a spectacular watch and pay the difference myself).  So I got a pen, but the certificate wouldn’t cover the engraving that I could have put on it.  What was I supposed to put on it “great job Karen for 5 years of hard work”…nothing like giving myself a pat on the back.

But that wasn’t all.  A  couple of years later we were at a luncheon, and out of the blue I was awarded a really great satchel with the acclimation of “congratulations Karen for three years of working with our company”…I was astonished and asked if I would get two because I had actually worked for the company for almost 7 years.  It was rather frustrating because this happened in front of all my other co-workers.  What a blunder…it made me realize that the company didn’t really care about me as an individual, and that there was less than any chance for me to grow further with the company.

Then kids came…and I left the job.

Recently I started selling Lia Sophia.  Not only do I get a chance to play with sparkly fun jewelry…but I get to work with a fantastic team of ladies.  When I started, I went to their monthly meetings where they recognized people who had top sales or had accomplished some goals with flowers and gifts.  At the time I though it was a little over the top.

But now I’ve been in the top 5 sales people within my unit for several months, and I love the recognition, the flowers, and the little gifties.  I really didn’t think it would matter…but you know, I strive to be in that top five.

Last month I hit the top 5 again and I was rewarded with a Lia Sophia calculator.  Really, it’s such a small thing…but I LOVE it!  I am so excited to have won it, and I look at here glistening on my desk (it’s nice and shiny).  It’s just waiting for me to calculate that next jewelry order, and all I can say is ‘Who’s next”….Thank you!

Love my Calculator!!

Harbinger of Spring

Posted Thursday, March 31st, 2011
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To me a sure sign of spring is the first gopher.  And today I saw one!  There is nothing that puts me in the mood for spring, and the warmth in my heart at seeing one of those creatures.

Of course the love of gophers comes from when I was younger and we happened to have a couple for pets.  Gilbert and Sulivan were brought home by our cat at the time.  She thought they were kittens.  We would take them everywhere.  They went camping with us, curled up and slept with the cat.  We could even take them for walks, they were devoted to us and would follow us everywhere.  We gave them lots of opportunities to go back to the wild.

Eventually we did find a place to set them free.  So now every time spring comes around it reminds me of our two little pets.

Another sure sign of spring is when the girls actually venture outside to blow bubbles and do some skipping.  Today is a perfect day for that, so I sat and took a few pictures.  It’s so warm in the back yard with the sun beating down on the patio, almost good enough to curl up and have a nap.

We ate strawberries today.  I bought a whole flat of them, and they are virtually gone now.  After making Pavlova and then using the rest of the strawberries to scoop up the remaining whipped cream…how could we have any left.  But we have very satisfied bellies.

No, not much work is being done today, but that is two-fold…the sunshine and spring-like weather, and the fact that today Katelin is 11.  Happy Birthday my daughter!

In Victoria, my parents work in a special warehouse.  Donations are brought to the Compassionate Resource Warehouse.  All the STUFF we don’t want.  All the things that the other donations don’t want.  They take all of that, they sort it, box it, and load it in a shipping container.  That container is then shipped to a country in need.  Where does it go?

Pakistan, Russia, Haiti, Jamaica, Moldova, Philippines, China, Fiji Islands, Guatamala, Cambodia, Sudan, Georgia, West Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Uganda, Angola, Armenia, Nigeria, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Liberia, Congo, Bolivia, Balarus, North Korea, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Peru, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Central Africa, Venezuela, Zambia, Guyana, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Belize, Laos, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Honduras, India, Sierra Leone, Cuba, Thailand, Tanzania, Honduras, El Salvador, Bolivia, Samoa.

This grouped has shipped over 297 containers all over the world and hope to celebrate their 300th container this April!  The people that work at the warehouse are all volunteers, and I’ve never seen such a dedicated group.  Whenever I visit Victoria I look forward to getting to the warehouse to pack boxes.  I like to get in there and do as much work as I can, so it’s steady.  My mom works in the area that deals with school books and supplies (not a far reach because she was a School Librarian and Teacher).

It takes quite a bit of effort to get the boxes packed correctly.  They have to be FULL, with no soft spots that can get crushed in the container.  This is when it gets fun.  I was packing boxes of school supplies, so each box got 10 pkgs of pencils, pencil sharpeners, 5 scribblers, 5 box of crayons, 5 erasers, 5 boxes of pencil crayons, a ruler, and 10 pens.  Then I need to put other things in the empty spots.  So I put in some balls, a fan, some tops that someone donated, a couple of Izzy dolls (little knitted dolls), any small stuffies that fit.  Sometimes we have dishcloths, tea towels, hats, or some T-shirts that we tuck in the sides.  As I pack the boxes I imagine the person who is opening it and will find all the little treasures I’ve included.  Some of these are little dolls or toys that my daughters don’t play with anymore.

On the days when they load the containers there is a frenzy of activity.  I’ll tell you these people know how to pack a container.  If bikes are going in the load, they will fit things in the all the nooks and crannies…and spokes.  They find just the right box to fit into each space so that it’s packed tight.  Grocery bags with a few clothes are stuffed between the boxes to fill up any spaces.  Once the container is full and before they close it, they fill all other little spaces and holes with stuffed animals…with their heads sticking out.  The last thing is the Canadian Flag that is tacked on the load.

One Container Ready to Go!

The people on the receiving end open up the container to that flag, and all these little animal faces smiling out at them.  I imagine it’s quite a site for them.  I wish they did something like this in Calgary where I am, but I suppose it’s a bit more difficult for us land-locked places.  So I take a suitcase full of donation stuff every time I go.  One day it would be nice to follow a container to it’s destination.

Nobody packs a container like the Compassionate Resource Warehouse!  I have heard stories of the recipients of these containers being so excited when they open the boxes to find little treasures buried within them.  And NOBODY packs an exersaucer like my Dad…shrink wrapped with toys crammed in every little spot.  Why ship air to these people in need.  They use every inch possible in that container.

There is more work that goes on other than packing boxes.  Volunteers go and pick up donations, or boxes.  They take items home to repair, test, launder, or make into new items.  Many volunteers knit little dolls or blankets to go.  Even sewing machines are retrofitted so that they don’t need electricity (crank added to the unit).  Bikes are dropped off to the local jail to be repaired and tuned up for their journey.

Of course none of this would happen without the generous sponsors who donate money and space for the collections to happen.  And the tireless effort of the individuals who run this charity, who have spear-headed and organized the entire thing.

As I finish writing this blog, my mind is running just hoping that something like this can happen here in Calgary.

Compassionate Resource Warehouse Website

Ripley My Little Man

Posted Monday, February 14th, 2011

Today I’m ready to write.  It’s taken me over a week to sit down and write about Ripley.  After 19 years of fur and purrs, we put our little man down.  Ripley was a good cat, and was named after the movie Aliens (one of my favorite movies).

He had personality.  He liked being around people, and would often hang out in the bushes so that he could jump out at you as you walked by.  He had stealth, was curious, loved to frolic, and only tolerated the endless maulings we gave him.

His favorite place was the garden.  He loved to curl up in the bushes and sleep, or watch me as I messed around with plants.  A stick running through the grass was a great game.  It was always fun for him to eat his grass, and then yak it up later, and he taught himself to be a great mouser.

He wouldn’t come and curl up on your lap, but he may lay down near you, but just out of reach. Almost to say I want to be near you, just don’t maul me.  His favorite toys when he was a kitten were pom poms, we would play fetch with them.

We knew the time was coming as his kidneys slowly started shutting down, and he became more and more senile (yowling at night “where is everybody?”), and the arthritis that had started pushing his back legs out.  I cried when I took him to the vet.  I cried with him in the examination room, and I cried as I felt him relax in my arms with his final breath.  My little man is gone.

I walk in a room and I see him laying on the couch out of the corner of my eye, but it’s not him.  I hear a sound and I think its his little greeting croon, but it isn’t.  I yearn to bury my face in his fur and smell that wonderful cat smell, but it’s only a memory.

A letter came yesterday from the Vet.  A little card with a paw print, and a tuft of his hair tied with a bow.  I cried, what a thoughtful and nice thing to do.  The fur doesn’t smell like Ripley, but every day I get to pet him, and hold that little piece of him to my cheek.

We gave him a good life – 19 years – so I smile when I think of that and all the wonderful memories I have of him.  It will be lonely working in the garden without him this year…he’s always been there with me, my little man.

Some Old Writing

Posted Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
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The sun it dances at the feet of the cloud

getting ready for its late evening shroud.

And all the glory it shines in the end,

leaving behind all the stars it sends.

It closes its eyes in one final shudder,

leaving stars to dance with one another.




The silence floods into the room

like a thick fog that stays.

It is suffocating

and it is cold.

You cannot breathe

only you can float

suspended in silence

a chamber of quiet.

A single note dances in the air

and rides along the fog.

like a child on a pony.

It is light and sparkles like dew

falling and rising

dancing and turning

landing like rain

bringing life to quiet.




I sat alone in the crowd,

my hair hid my face.

Their yelling voice loud,

try to put me in my place.

Their angry hearts screamed,

as they yelled ugly thoughts.

The crowd it would team,

my tongue was in knots.

Nobody sees, nobody cares,

their knives pierce my heart,

the soul nobody knows.




It builds up and becomes heavy

holds on tight but slides away

and falls down slowly, wetly.

Curving and turning around slowly

reaching the end it builds up again

and falls again with a quick wet drip.

A tear is quiet and silent

soft crying is painful

the tear is a relief.




Something good has come my way.

It came along and brightened my day.

How can I know if it’s come forever.

Something so strong keeps us together.

This one I know will stay for a while.

You opened the door and made me smile.

Life could be this way all the time.

I clean away all of the dirt and grime.

You make me feel so good when you’re near.

Always saying things that I need to hear.

I will never throw your love away.

In your arms forever I will stay.




The rain falls lightly

and trickles down my back.

The sun is hidden,

the clouds they attack.

The water it beads

and drips off my shoe.

But each time it rains,

it reminds me of you.

The puddles are growing

they children they play.

Light marks the clouds,

end of rain day.