Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Hello Dear Readers! I hope you had a relaxing weekend. Since I started working for myself again, I notice weekends and stat holidays have lost a lot of their significance, which is both good and bad, but mostly good. I was never comfortable with “working for the weekend”, but I did it a lot.

Here is my first happy list of 2014. I’d love to hear what’s putting a smile on your face during this very cold winter, too.

1) Keeping the Christmas tree just a little too long. I admit it-I find undecorating the tree to be a tad depressing. The holidays are always over way too fast. Since I usually spend Christmas in BC with my parents, I don’t get much tree time in before everyone starts packing up their holiday decorations. Thankfully, Ukrainian Christmas and Chinese New Year provide a convenient excuse to keep celebrating. So what if we’re not Ukrainian or Chinese? I like the tree so much that I might have to consider decorating with twinkle lights, like my life coach and friend Ashley does.

2) Unsung heroes. Training to fight was hard. I did my fair share of whining…to The Boy, to my coach, and probably anyone else who would listen. I recently discovered a man who puts it all in proper perspective. Baxter Humby, a championship kick boxer, is known as The One-Armed Bandit because–you guessed it–he lost part of one arm when he was born. This two and a half minute documentary about him is incredibly inspiring, no matter what your life goals are.

3) Unconventional women. I’m as unconventional as they come, and I love reading books about women who have the courage and smarts to live life their way. Tales of a Female Nomad is one of the best books of its kind. The author sold all her belongings in order to lead a nomadic existence after her divorce at age forty-eight. By trusting in the kindness of strangers, she had some incredible experiences all over the world, including Bali, Thailand, Mexico, Israel, New Zealand, and Nicaragua. Whenever possible, she lived in a small local village to experience an indigenous way of life. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  is a great read, too. After her divorce, Cheryl Strayed–a novice camper with no prior trekking experience–sets out to hike a good portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, which winds its way through various mountain chains from Mexico to Canada. Living on next to nothing, Strayed manages to survive her perilous journey, in spite of a growing addiction to heroin and the fact she didn’t even try on her backpack before she left. There were moments when I wanted to throttle her, and other times when I cheered.

4) Matthew Inman. For those who aren’t in the know, Inman is the genius behind The Oatmeal. When he was slogging it out in the corporate world as a computer programmer—a job that paid well but ultimately made him miserable–he started a dating site. To drive traffic to his site, he created cartoons. Once Inman noticed the cartoons were doing better than the rest of the site, he created The Oatmeal website and quit his job to become a full-time cartoonist. Pretty ballsy! Reviewers have called him “The Gary Larson of the Internet Age” and I’d say that’s a fair assessment–just like The Far Side, you either get The Oatmeal or you don’t. If you do, Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants will make you howl. For more of Inman’s inspiring story, check out this article in Penthouse magazine (you know I only read it for the articles).

5) Ongoing animal cuteness. Since this happy list ended up being about inspirational people, it seems only fair to close with an inspirational animal. Watch this tiny husky pup learn how to howl–I defy you not to smile.

That’s it for this week’s happy list! Feel free to share your own list or opinions in the comments. I always love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Lisa S.

    Thanks for the list. Love The Oatmeal cartoons though I’ve only seen a handful.
    What’s making me happy? Ice skating, especially watching our youngest tear across the ice in wild abandon. Two speeds: full throttle and crash. And, of course, the older munchkin and her cautious manner of gliding slowly across the ice. Polar opposites those two.
    Have a great week, Holli!

  2. TAH

    That Oatmeal picture at the top cracked me up! That guy is a genius!
    I never bothered taking down the Xmas decorations last year, so we will see if I bother this time!=-) I say don’t take them down if you don’t want to! It’s only January! =-)

  3. Holli Moncrieff

    That’s a great visual, Lisa! Thanks for sharing it–I can totally picture it. One of my great regrets is that I never learned to skate. Maybe Livi and Jovi can teach me!

    Hope you have a great week, too!

  4. Lisa

    Getting out and enjoying the absolutely balmy Winnipeg weather this weekend! Running on the Forks River Trail and seeing the hordes of people out there as well. It’s great to see our little gem being used.
    Being able to have a fire in our fire-pit (in January!)
    Oh and homemade Irish stew (the husband can cool!!!) with fresh biscuits out of the oven…
    Just a couple things that made me happy this weekend.

  5. Holli Moncrieff

    Hey Tana! I’m glad to find another fellow Oatmeal fan. I love how all the pics of Matthew I’ve ever seen have him looking wary, like one of his errant grizzly bears might be right around the corner.

    And thanks for your support with the tree! Glad I’m not the only one who pushes the season.

  6. Holli Moncrieff

    Wow, what a great list, Lisa. That sounds awesome! I haven’t been to the Forks River Trail yet. I should definitely check it out. But the bonfire wins for me…I trust you had marshmallows. 🙂

    Have a great week!

  7. Mystic_Mom

    My happy list: chores (cows and horses) in warmer weather; hood sliding with the boys; watching birds at the feeders; dreaming of spring

  8. Holli Moncrieff

    That’s an awesome list, MM–thanks for sharing it! I imagine this brutal winter has been especially tough on farmers like yourself. But I have to ask–what is hood sliding?

  9. Alexis Moore

    Love # 5. Ongoing animal cuteness!
    If only I had an animal translator device=)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing the Happy List for 2014.

    Martial Arts Brisbane

  10. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks, Alexis! Glad you’re enjoying the list. I’m all about animal cuteness.

  11. Alexis Moore

    Hi Holli. Right, I had fun, looking forward for more animal cuteness stuffs, love them all! =)

  12. Holli Moncrieff

    Hi Alexis, thanks for letting me know. I should have a new post up next Monday! Just recovering from jet lag.


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