Time to Vote in the Bille Lotto Blogger Contest! Crowdsourcing & Firefighters, OH MY!


Remember a while ago I wrote a post about taking risks and overcoming my fear?


Item 1:  edit up the pages of my NaNoWriMo novel and send them to the Humber Writer’s Workshop.  Which I did, and I got in.  Yay me. (I’m scared shitless, let me tell you.  Write a novel is on my #WTHN List.)


Item 2:  Enter the Bille Lotto Best Blogger Contest.   Which I did, and I made the finals.


And I’m happy.


To me, the Bille Lotto Blogger contest represents the culmination of this life change I’ve undergone over the last year. It’s not every day that a woman of my certain age has the opportunity to reinvent herself and be happy.   The prize for this contest, besides the money (which my husband assures me would come in handy), is the opportunity to represent The Bille in the social world, which completely fits… me.


Why?  You ask. It’s well known that while I have a winning personality, I don’t have the luck of the Irish. I’ve only won about three things in my life.  Once, I was in Nassau and I put a nickel in the slot machine and won $50. Another time, when I was 13, I won a picture of Jack Nicklaus (You know, the famous golfer. I didn’t know who he was either.)  Last year, I won a $500 gift certificate from Kobo.  Seriously, that one WAS like winning $1m for a book lover like me.


It fits because of who The Bille Lotto is.


The more I researched them, the more I wanted to be involved with the organization.  Not only does the lottery have a huge prize, but they help people give back when something great (like winning a jillion dollars) happens to them.


Ten percent of sales for The BiLLe go directly to The BiLLe’s Charity Pool, potentially 300,000,000 Euros per week! And players choose which charities should receive two-thirds of those charitable donations!


I’m a huge fan of karma and paying it forward, and this organization is totally down with that philosophy.

When I decided to enter the contest, I came up with a variety of ideas for my video entry, all of which were shot down by my teenager as way too embarrassing, and included carrying a cardboard cut-out of Robert Downy Jr. around my suburb.  Then, I thought,




I asked the Internet ‘What would you do with One Million Dollars’, and the answers I received formed my submission video.






By the way, Invest in Blueberries was my son.  He’s an interesting young man.


I THANK each and every one of the people who answered my question.  Your answers inspired me, made me laugh, made me cry, and made me smile.


I hope that one day all of your beautiful dreams come true.


AND NOW…it’s time to play…




Super fun, and totally in my comfort zone this asking people to do something for me.  At least its only until June 30.


So, Click HERE.  And tell your friends. Spread through out your Networks. I promise, I won’t let you down (begging…again!!)


Also, I have video of firefighters stripping and I will share them if I win….


Not that I’m bribing anyone or anything. But, here’s a preview photo…



I’d Rather Have a Troll than a Plagiarizer

twitter rant about plagiarizers

Just so you know, the world is chock full of asshats.  I’m serious.  I know you’re surprised.  Its truly a revelation.  Up until yesterday, I thought that most people had ethics and were nice, and, like not selfish, icky, dishonest jerks. But, now I’m not sure.  Which is sort of a problem, since the name of my blog is Be Nice or Leave, Thanks.  Which means, technically, that way more folks would have to leave than stay. Which would really screw with my bounce rate.

You know what else?  I totally thought I would have had my first evil stalker troll before I had a plagiarizer. But, sometimes (Wo)man Plans and God Laughs (that’s from the Talmud).  So it’s true.

Its funny.  I always knew I was smart and witty and original.  At least, that’s what I told people. And, since they started laughing when I said it to them, I took their reaction as implicit agreement.  But, until yesterday, I didn’t realize that I was such a freaking genius that my thoughts were worth stealing.

It’s surprising, I know, that someone would steal my thoughts.  There’s enough thoughts and ideas to go around, after all. And its usually more fun when they’re your own, so you can explain and expand on them and such.  I was also disappointed that someone would take my thoughts in such a boring way as repurposing them in one of their own blog posts.   You’d think it would have been way more fun to do it in a cool way like with one of those caps that look like brains with wires from the old movies. Or even by stealing my whole body a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and then sucking out my thoughts and turning me into a Stepford Wife or bikini-clad zombie.

But they didn’t.  They chose pedestrian over exotic, run-of-the-mill over resourceful.  Unimaginative over…anyways, you get my drift.

The whole story is over on momfaze, the scene of the crime.  Be sure to go over and read the whole story.

I’m so disillusioned. *sigh*. Copious amounts of Pinterest, wine, and my new favourite chocolate bar are in order.

Therapy for victims of injustice and nasty behaviour






Why I Blog

Why I blog

This is my 101st post.  A momentous occasion, right?  I have to say, even though I’ve stuck with this ‘hobby’ for a while, sometimes I wonder why I blog.

I’m about 10 millionth on the Alexa rankings. They can’t even pull data on me, my stats are so low.

But, still I write.  I get great joy out of sharing my words and hopefully providing somebody, somewhere, a laugh, a chuckle or an aha moment.  Sometimes, though, when I realize that my father-in-law and 3 other people are my primary readers, I consider dropping the whole thing and writing a diary.  If I did that, I could seriously put down whatever I wanted without worrying about insulting anyone.

When I look at my numbers, that’s when I think things like that.  I also think about it when I feel like writing rude things that pass through my head but since I have common sense, realize would be disastrous to my ability to make and keep friends if published.

And then, I get a taste of my own medicine. And someone, out there in the internet-verse, provides me with an aha moment of my own.

I was busily writing another fun and frivolous post about Pinterest (which I’ll publish tomorrow or so) and then I received this comment on a blog I wrote last October about missing my father:

I found your blog here–and this entry in particular–because I was feeling similarly. Two nights ago we lit a yartzeit candle for our son who we lost during childbirth one year ago. His candle lasted more that 26 hours, but now that it is out I am left with emptiness. Your poem is beautiful. The flame is a reminder, but not a substitute. We who have lost our so very dear ones continue and learn to live this life without them here. Their memories and essence are with us, but there is an emptiness that I do not know if ever can be filled.

When I read that, I got shivers down my spine, goosebumps up and down my arms, and tears in my eyes.  Reading of this woman’s pain, and that in someway, throughout the inter webs, I was able to ease it, bridge a gap, make her feel she wasn’t alone, well, that was a flashing arrow to the real reason why I blog.

Sure, I like to be silly, make people laugh, throw out a random thought or two.  But truly, I feel I am a successful wordsmith when my words resonate;  even if its with just one person.  If I’ve impacted just one person’s life, made one person’s day better, caused one single person to laugh so hard they snort Diet Coke out of their nose, then it’s all worth it.  All the writing, the editing, the searching for the right word, the best phrase, the perfect picture.  All completely and totally worth it.

So, I won’t stop. Even if today, nobody reads except my friends the spammers. Because, someday, one day, one person might Google ‘Why should I blog’ and find this piece, and understand.

And, that’s why I blog.

A Case of Blog Dystentery

source: http://the-secret-store.com



1. a flowing or flow.

2. the flowing in of the tide.
3. continuous change, passage, or movement

verb (used with object)

7. to melt; make fluid.
8. to fuse by the use of flux.
9. Obsolete . to purge.

Origins of the word

late 14c., from O.Fr. flux, from L. fluxus, pp. of fluere “to flow”(see fluent). 
Originally “excessive flow” (of blood or excrement); an early 
name for “dysentery;” sense of”continuous succession of changes” is first recorded 1620s.
I’ve been thinking on this blog. And on my other blog. And on my other blog.  And the word Flux comes to mind.  Not the excessive flow of blood excrement part, although I have been accused of having verbal diarrhea.
I started Books & Brands to get a job. As I was falling asleep one night, it occurred to me that a blog to showcase my opinions on customer service and branding would be a fabulous calling card.  I threw in a little bit of product love, plus book reviews (because aside from my family and my dogs, books are my one true love. Oh, who are we kidding, I love books more than anything.)  The problem with this blog was it looked like a review blog, but was supposed to be a commentary blog.  It was confused, but I plugged away anyways.

A few months later,  I felt like I had something more to say about my life.  Those types of posts didn’t fit on Books & Brands, which was already a bit of a semi-pro smorgasbord.  So, I started Be Nice or Leave Thanks. This blog was to be a place to share and vent, and laugh, and sadly as it turns out, to cry.   I do believe its on the right track (not withstanding my semi-frequent blog holidays).

THEN….a pal suggested to me that I start a site specifically to talk about TEENAGERS, a topic on which I’m a semi-pro expert.  So, I did. Parent Our Teens has the potential to be an amazing resource and a whole lot of fun.  Except, I’m intimidated at the daunting prospect of finding the time and developing the expertise to live my dream of creating an ONLINE MAGAZINE.

There’s too much going on with me and the blogosphere.  Clearly, I need to catch a serious case of Blog Dystentery.  To be crass, I need to diarrhea one of my blogs.  I just can’t take the violent and internal guilt I have when I neglect one over the other or vice versa.  Its like we’re on an episode of  Blog Sister Husbands and one of the polyblogists is stealing another one’s ‘humina humina’ night.

So, sorry, Books & Brands.  You’re circling the drain.  I’m ready to purge, and its you that’s gone. I know its sad, because I spent MONEY on moving you to self hosting and for a ‘design’ (a whole ‘nother post about my trusting nature).

Flux also is defined as ‘to melt, to make fluid’.  The blogs will just melt into one, just like a Bloggy Crayon Maker.  You’ll still see my semi-pro opinionated opinions about brands I love and not so much, books I love, and not so much. You’ll just have to come here to see them.

I hope this all works out.

someecards.com - I'm sorry, but we're going to have to break up. I just wasn't made for Polygamy.

I made STEALTH Banana Muffins & they ate them

Stealth Banana Muffins

Normally I make all kinds of excuses when I take a bit of a blog holiday, particularly when in the throes of Day 6 of a personal challenge (that I obviously failed). This time, instead of telling y’all about the 4 solid days that I spent taking care of my daughter after her elective surgery; or the weird fatigue phase I went through at the same time which I combatted by sleeping for approximately 12 hours a night; or the books that I read, which included The Hunger Games Trilogy, Far to Go, The Sisters Brothers (which I thought was The Family Fang and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t funny), and lastly, the first of Paullina Simons’ Trilogy about Russia, The Bronze Horseman; or the zillion times I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher;  or my completely pathetic addiction to Bejeweled on my iPad.

Bejewelled. This game will ruin your blogging career.

No, instead of being such a whiney blogger, I will bribe you for your forgiveness with a kick -ass recipe for muffins that are so STEALTH in their mostly healthiness, that I hesitate to even POST the recipe in case my kids know what they were eagerly stuffing in their faces.  Now, these muffins could be EVEN healthier if one had Stevia or the mathematical ability to substitute Agave syrup for white sugar (neither of which fit my profile )

The inspiration for this baking when obviously I’ve been otherwise occupied with reading and playing iPad games?  A big pile of ripe bananas and no food in the house.  (Note: while I wanted to use up my bananas, I did draw the line at this beauty that was hanging out in my fruit bowl)

That's one mouldy banana

Mara’s Banana Muffins that are not like cake for breakfast (inspired by a recipe I found online when googling ‘healthy banana muffins’)

In a bowl, mash up 3-4 very ripe bananas, but probably not mouldy ones, because that would NOT be healthy.

Add in 2 eggs and mix well with a fork.  Mix in 1 tsp pure vanilla extract.

In another bowl or glass measuring cup, mix 1 cup of all purpose whole wheat flour (or Robin Hood Nutri-Flour), 1 cup of rolled oats or oatmeal flakes (I used Bob’s Red Mill), 1 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of salt, and 3/4 cup of sugar (I actually used just slightly less, but this is the not healthy part of the mostly healthy).  You can add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or semi-sweet chocolate chips  to make the muffins even yummier.  (Do not add carob chips, as my mother did in the 70s. They are not delicious. Trust me.)

Fill 12 muffin cups to the top with the mixture.  Bake until golden and the centre bounces back (I have no idea how long as I got distracted on twitter emptying the dishwasher.)

Stealth Banana Muffins

ENJOY!! and come back soon, y’all!


I’m WRITING! I SWEAR! (image source www.writerunboxed.com)

In the vein of my friend Lynn at AllFooked up, I’m going to provide you a list of everything that I’m doing and thinking about other than writing my 1700 words for NaNoWriMo.

  • Maybe I should go get the mail. There may be some important mail in the mailbox, you never know. For example, a large cash prize, a letter from the government explaining I wasn’t really born in Canada, or even a card advertising my dream home.
  • I should eat something. Its always better to write on an full stomach. Or is it an empty stomach. A full stomach makes you feel sedentary, but an empty stomach drives you to push yourself to excellence.  Look at how lean the lead actor in the movie ‘The Gods Must be Crazy’ was. He certainly achieved.
  • My dogs are cute. Look at their cute faces. They are so cute I should kiss them. Then, since they are so cute, I should run around with them. And talk baby talk to them. Because, they totally understand me.  I should probably make videos of me talking to my dogs and them understanding me.  On the other hand, people might take my kids away if I do that.
  • I think my NaNo novel characters have taken over the story. I hate being told what to do.  I think they need a time out, so maybe I should write later.
  • Yoga would help me think.
  • There’s a tweet again.  It may be very important if someone is tweeting me right now. Missing that tweet could change my life forever. So I’d better go check and see who it is.  Oh, its a spammer. Wait, there it goes again. It could be a friend in need.  Of my witticisms.  Laughter is the best medicine, or so they say.
  • NOW my email bleeped.  Usually I get just junk emails.  But, what if this time its important.  Like, for example, a member of the former Russian aristocracy who REALLY requires my most excellence servicing, and will pay me $15 million as long as I provide my bank account number, my date of birth, my address, and my shoe size.
  • That dog is really cute. But he’s so dumb. He’s trying to get food by scratching at a 6 pack of beer.  Have the kids been giving the dog beer again?  I’d better go text them and make sure they didn’t.
  • Young and the Restless really needs to have me guest star. I’d make a great prison inmate. I look so good in orange. And Sharon looked so good after her prison makeover. Really, she never looked better.  Oh wait, she’s out of jail.  But she gets to choose between hot veterinarian, Dr. Sam, gorgeous but evil Adam, and of course, Nick.  And what about Ronen.  I’d totally dump my husband for him.  But he would need to stop disappearing. Except my MIL would be Nina. Ewwww.
  • I should go to yoga later.  Or maybe now. Yoga is good for you. But not too much.  Yesterday, when I was ‘researching’ for my novel, I happened upon an article that says too much of anything isn’t good for you.  So, maybe I shouldn’t go to yoga. We’ll see.
  • Facebook is very interesting today.  A lot of people are posting videos, and it would be rude not to watch them and then comment.  Oh…wait..my sister put up a blog post. One MUST support one’s sister in her pursuit of bloggy excellence, right?
  • Have I showered yet?
  • What’s for dinner?
  • What if my sister’s nanny doesn’t come and I have to give her my nanny who I don’t actually need but I want, and then I have a relapse of my housework allergy whose symptoms are me being a TOTAL BITCH.  I hate acting like that, but it’s not my fault. Its an allergy.

In no way can this list be considered procrastination.  I totally and legitimately have important things to think about.  As well, I totally and legitimately am working to overcome my START/STOP impulse as well as my fear of rejection, insurmountable obstacles, and small spaces.

Note from the Editor:  Chicky has been spanked at sent right to Scrivener to start her words.  Stop TWEETING her. OR ELSE!!

On Swearing, Branding, Self-Love & Chonga Dresses

I’ve been away from my blog.  Where?  Ready for the Oxymoron? At  Blissdom -THE blogging conference in Canada for women who..ummm..blog. Or write. Or want to blog or write. Or know people who blog or write.  Or, just want free stuff and fun parties.  Or like to hang in the company of 300 or so amazingly smart and fun women.   (In case you were wondering, I fall into all of those categories.)


Part 1: Last year I went to Blissdom as a newbie.  I’d written like two blog posts and wanted to learn everything: technique, SEO, promoting the blog, and what the world of social media was all about.    This year, obviously, went as a very experienced blogger, having written 100 or so blog posts.  I went with a different type of ear.  I was hoping, this year, to gain persecutive. To understand where I was, where I wanted to go, and more importantly, who I wanted to be.

Part 2: Recently (actually one month ago today), I was involuntarily liberated from my excellent and fairly lucrative corporate job.  I won’t get into the details here as the interweb is a public forum and I’m a very private person (HA!).  Nonetheless, I was handed the opportunity, at least for a few months, to explore a future doing what I love, with people who accept me as I am.

The Result:

I didn’t take away as much practical and applicable knowledge from Blissdom as I did last year.  However, I did get some of this (and I will try to attribute where my addled brain allows):

1. Everybody has a superhero inside of them.  You just need the cojones to let your superhero out (Jeff Pulver).

I’m not really a fan of satin or pleather, but I just might be Super Awesome Mara.

2.  Sometimes you seek out your brand and sometimes it just finds you (Dee Brun).

I’m still on the fence about my brand. I haven’t decided or it hasn’t found me.  But, apparently, everyone is looking forward to seeing me say words like Fuck on my blog, and also I’m now known as the lady with the pervy husband. (well if he insists on goosing me and copping a feel at every opportunity, I’m going to tell everyone!)

3. Writing is work. Its a job like any other and you have to get dressed and off the couch.  Don’t spend the whole day procrastinating on Twitter (Bon Stewart & Tanis Miller)

Now that my primary employment is as a self-promoter, I have to treat that as a job so that I can get clients and then treat my work for them as a job.

4.  Set GOALS.  You cannot achieve anything if you don’t know what you’re working towards.  And you won’t know if you got there, if you didn’t know where you were going in the first place.

(Needs no elaboration)

5. You cant just make your content go viral.  You need to do something that will connect or resonate with people, even if its something silly like a cat typing. (The Viral panel)

So…umm. that’s probably why my video of me reading the newspaper in sunglasses didn’t really blow up.  Everybody knows how to read the newspaper.

6.  People really like the New Kids on the Block (btw I keep calling them the Backstreet Boys).

I learned this when Jordan Knight showed up at Blissdom Canada and then some of my fellow Blissdom’ers almost fainted.  I know nothing about the New Kids on the Block (Except now I can’t get that that one phrase ‘Backstreet’s Back OK’ out of my head, even though he’s from the NKOTB), but I took a picture with him anyways since I was dressed in a slutty orange satin dress.

7. Love what you do.  Be yourself. Don’t align yourself with a brand or philosophy just for the money.  Don’t compromise on that, amongst all the other compromises in the world, your integrity and self-love are non-negotiable (Publishing panel)

I keep saying that stuff, and now I want to believe it.

8.  Women know how to party, particularly me. (My husband & his friend when they picked me up at the costume party)

I was so glad that my hunky hubby could come and meet some of the Blissdom-ers.  He particularly realized that I’m not any crazier than anyone else, which is a good thing.  He also thought I looked really sexy in my Chongalicious costume which actually concerns me.

9. I’m even more forgetful than I thought I was, having left my brand new flat Iron, and my Mac Book at the hotel when I left, plus my sweater and other sundry items in my room.

10.  I am willing to do anything for a cheap laugh.  Case in point:

The pathetic explanation for my blog holiday

An open letter to anyone who’s ever read my blog and wondered what happened to it.

Dear single blog reader:

Well, here it is. A long awaited post on my blog. Please don’t be bored, as I’m going to ramble for a bit and quite possibly you won’t care what I have to say.

I lost my bloggy mojo a few months ago, and no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find it. It had disappeared, muddled in the detritus of my somewhat apathetic mind. I didn’t lose my marbles or anything-I continued on with my daily life, working, getting my kids ready for camp, going to yoga. But I seemed to misplace my zingy zesty self that feels the need to be reflected in the written word . And the longer I went without writing, the worse it got. You see, what I possess is the avoider of guilt syndrome, sometimes known as momprastination or to be more personal, Maraprastination. If I don’t do something I know I should do, instead of doing it, I just avoid doing it for longer. I erase it from my mind.

What my Maraprastination brain looked like when I thought about writing a blog post.

What spurred this bout of Maraprastination? It was a big glass of behind, shaken with a big juicy dose of shame thrown in for good measure. (Do you like the liquor references? I’m trying to be literary here)

Let me explain. So, my other blog, www.booksandbrands.wordpress.com was getting some good face time and I was offered a lovely brand new Explorer from Ford to drive, plus a gorgeously giant whack of books from publishers like HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster to review. Except, I never did it. I never wrote a thing. There’s the behind, and a bit of the shame. That’s not so bad, you say? You still tweeted about the books, you say? You weren’t so behind. We still like you.

My terrible awful shame

Well, wait till you hear the rest of the shame and then maybe you’ll change your tune. The rest of the shame is a Terrible Awful (a The Help reference. Go see the movie. For sure read the book. You won’t be sorry).

You may notice some of your favorite blog posts missing from this site. This is because I removed them. I referenced my work life in them-in a very sarcastic way. This was very unprofessional of me, and nevermind made me look like a total misfit and dork. As well, I found that I was making you, dear lonely single reader, laugh at my own expense. This self-depracating humour was not shining a flattering light.

All of this made me feel shame. The kind that makes you hide in your bed. The kind that, if my Dad had been alive, would have caused him to berate me upside down and backwards. For like 10 hours. At least.

So, that is the cause of the Maraprastination. And this post is the end of the Maraprastination. I will start writing again. Hopefully I’ll still make you laugh, or sometimes tug at your heart strings. But, I will also try not to look stupid. Because I’m not. I’m a smart woman-person. And I think you’ll like me, you’ll really like me (Sally Field reference…)

So, keep reading. Tomorrow you may hear about my dog toileting problems. Poop is always funny.



PS if my Twitter bestie @suzieswapper who tells it like it is and writes at www.wrestlingwithinvesting.com and www.spaghettiandspanx.com hadn’t forced me to write this, I wouldn’t have. So thanks. I owe you!