Karen Ballum

Hi, I'm Karen Ballum. I'm a Community Moderator on BlogHer.com. You might know me as Sassymonkey.

I live in Ottawa, Ontario -- Canada's national capital. Keeping me company are my husband and cat, commonly known on the internet as the Fake Husband and the Fake Cat. Last I checked they were both still very real to most people but according to Denise, it's not real unless she can see it. (She's met the fake husband and has seen pictures of the cat but once fake is always fake in her books.)

I have been blogging about life (and food, I like food) since 2004 on my personal blog, Sassymonkey.ca, and started my book blog, Sassymonkey Reads, in August of 2005. I don't read quite as many books as I used to but I still love hearing about the books you love.

While I spent a LOT of time here on BlogHer.com you can also find on Twitter. If you want to judge for yourself whether or not my cat is fake, she features prominently in my Instagram stream. (But you never know, I could be using a stunt cat.)

I also have a slight addition to the overuse of parentheses. (Oops?)

5 Things I Learned Training for a 5K

I spent the last few months training for a 5k run. I've run close to half a dozen of them in recent years but I've never actually trained for one before. I'm not saying that I'd just pop out of bed on race day and go run but calling what I did real training was a bit of a stretch. I'd run once or twice a week but really only if I was in the mood for it and I didn't run very far. This spring I decided I wanted to give this whole training thing a proper shot....more
Rita Arens I am so unathletic it makes it pretty easy to not feel competitive. It does get ...more

Will The Mary Sue Become a Mary Sue?

Last month, The Mary Sue, formerly "the guide to girl geek culture," surprised its community by merging with sister site Geekosystem, changing its design, and changing its tagline to "let your geek flag fly." While some pushback on The Mary Sue's changes was to be expected, some of the changes—as well as comments made on social media by senior staff members—have left some readers wondering if The Mary Sue is about to become a ...more

7 Canadian Bloggers to Follow for Canada Day

While my American friends are getting ready to pull out their stars and stripes, up here in Canada I'm gearing up for a festive Canada Day in Ottawa. My July 1 will be filled with friends, food, and fireworks ... but I wanted to leave you with some fabulous Canadian bloggers to follow. Check them out, and please leave links to your favourite Canucks in the comments below. ...more
Wow! Thank you so much - I am truly honoured to be mentioned!more

Happy 4th of July: Celebrate with 9 DIY Projects for Independence Day

Independence Day is just around the corner. Is your house ready for 4th of July festivities? If you are like me, you are probably looking at the calendar and wondering what happened to June. Here are nine projects that don't take much time and look fabulous. ...more

Make Your Own Sidewalk Chalk and Paint

When I was a kid we had a long dirt driveway, which was a source of serious disappointment for me. My friends with paved driveways used to make epic hopscotch paths and I so wanted to be able to make them. When we bought our house one of the first things I did was buy sidewalk chalk. What I didn't know then, and I do now, is I could have made my own. You can make your own sidewalk paint, too! I have a full container of chalk in my cupboard, but when it runs out I'l be trying some of these recipes. I added some fun activities you can do with chalk in here as well. Have fun! ...more

Father's Day: Five Gifts You Can Make for Dad

Father's Day is upon us and my local stores are telling me all the dads need new power tools and video games. Both are lovely options if that's what the fathers in your life want but sometimes we want something a bit more personal -- something that was made just for them. We've gathered up five DIY gift ideas you can make that special dad in your life. ...more

Nine Outdoor Projects You Can Do This Weekend

Now that the warm weather has (finally) arrived we're spending our weekends trying to find that sweet spot between doing all the projects and actually taking time to relax. Some of the projects are the less fun ones (I'm looking at you yard work) but then there are all the fun ones. Oh, the fun ones. I basically live on the internet so more and more fun dream projects get added to my list each week. This list is a mix of the fun and the practical and can all be done in just a few days. Pallet Fort...more
Ginny Marie I have a cherry tomato plant in a pot. We haven't tried tomatoes since we moved into ...more

You Won't Believe How Easy It Is To Make These Maxi Dresses

Warm weather has been slow to arrive to my corner of the world but it's finally here and I've started pulling out my warm weather clothes. The first thing I reached for was my maxi dresses. I love how they are even more comfortable than yoga pants (yes, really) but make me feel way fancier. I do sometimes have a hard time finding maxi dresses I really like in my local stores but it's okay. These bloggers have me covered with their tutorials for how to make your own maxi dress. Easiest Maxi Dress Ever...more
sassymonkey Considering!!more

Gardening Wisdom For Beginners or Non-Gardeners

When we bought our house I was full of gardening plans. We were going to grow all thing things! Yes! All of them. Then I realized that not only did I know very little about gardening, but it would also mean an never ending battle with the local wildlife. I settled for planting an herb garden and having a few small garden containers. This time of year I dream of large gardens and I find myself reading lots of gardening posts. At some point I may be willing to take on the challenge of gardening but for now I'm reading, dreaming and drinking in the wisdom of women who do it every year....more
I agree with Rita, although some seeds are very easy (rocket and chard always come up here, no ...more

6 Gifts Every College Graduate Needs

Not sure what to get your college graduate? Here are six practical gift ideas to help get the college graduate in your life set up for life beyond the ivory tower. Money Credit: Carolyn Tiry...more
Great ideas! I especially like the premium LinkedIn idea.more