Bringing in 2019



Thank you everyone for another great year. We hope that you have had a wonderful 2018 and that the coming year only improves for you all.


Lana's Galleries of Christmas



I adore the holidays. I love the carols, I love the movies, and, I especially love the decorations. Every year I try to take pictures of all the new ornaments, lights, or holiday objects I may have previously missed to add to my ever growing collection of festive yuletide cheer. This year was no exception.

Our first family Christmas was spending a few days with the Lilies family.

We then left Christmas Eve day to spend time with Ma and Brother Carbon…

On Christmas day, we had dinner out and then made a quick jaunt to visit to Drake Warn and Wam Veddar and family for dessert.

We returned to the city, where, the next day, we had our Christmas (and obligatory game of bones) with the Bonus Mommy.

I had a great time taking photos at each of our family get-togethers but it was even more amazing to be able to share all this time with our loved ones.

Throughout the smattering of time when we weren’t with our families, we took time to drive around to look at lights, including a special display in Burlington which used over 50,000 lights.

One of the special events that we did manage to attend was Christkindl. It is a German Christmas market held in Kitchener, Ontario. It was a thrill to see some of the traditions with which we are so familiar through the eyes of another culture.

I even took a few shots on our day-to-day activities that I felt I needed to include as well.

That brings about the end of our Christmas season through my lens. If you have any photos of special light displays, decorations, or ornaments that hold special meaning for you or that you just find beautiful or unique, we would love to see them. Feel free to share them with us on our social media or in the comment section below.

We really hope that you have enjoyed your holidays so far and that only wonderful things come your way in the New Year! See you in 2019.

12 Movies for the 12 Days of Christmas 2018 - Holiday Adjacent Films



[John] This year for our "12 Movies for the 12 Days of Christmas" experience, we decided to go with movies that people consider Christmas movies but aren't truly Christmas movies.

After reaching out to our readers for some ideas, we came up with quite a number of movies to choose from (some of the suggestions were already on our list from what we'd decided prior to reaching out) and settled in for some Christmas-but-not-really-Christmas-movie-watching.

As most of you know by now, we don't actually watch these over the real 12 Days of Christmas, so we did all of these over the few weeks from December First to Christmas Day (and I have to say - 12 movies over a few weeks is so much more manageable than 31!).

Without further delay, our 2018 list…

1. Die Hard, 1988

[John] I hadn't watched this in so long I'd pretty much forgotten everything about it. Other than people calling it a Christmas movie, that is. I can't say it's my favourite movie but I do enjoy me a good action flick and this one is definitely enjoyable, as so many of you know.

[Lana] We had to start off with the quintessential non-Christmas Christmas movie (mostly to get the expected out of the way early). I know that John McClane is one incredibly tough sonovagun but I still wince every time he walks barefoot across that glass. Yippee-ki-yay!

2. Gremlins, 1984

[John] I never really considered this one a Christmas movie though I always remembered it taking place over Christmas. Gosh, I hadn't watched this in so long it was a lot of fun to see it again. It made me remember when it came out and how all the marketing had Gizmo everywhere and on everything. Well, Gizmo and Stripe, to be fair. I think it might have been Cracker Jack popcorn (or Pink Elephant?) that had Gizmo on the box for a while when the movie was released. Actually, I think there was a Gizmo box and a Stripe box. Everything at that time was all about the Gremlins. There are not many marketing strategies that burned themselves into my brain the way Gremlins did.

[Lana] This brought back so many fond memories of my youth. To this day, cheesy special effects aside, this is still one of my favourite fantasy/sci-fi movies of all time… right up there with Ghostbusters. Just make sure you always keep the three rules in mind while watching.

3. Trading Places, 1983

[John] Way too Christmassy to be on this list!! (Kidding) This was my first time ever seeing Trading Places. I must admit I was surprised and saddened by seeing Dan Akroyd in blackface (I know, different times and different storytelling) but otherwise this was a decent movie (though I wanted to un-see certain things). I don't know that I need to watch it again.

[Lana] There is nothing quite like seeing a disgruntled, down-on-his-luck Dan Akroyd proudly bite into a whole fish which he had hidden in his Santa suit, through his dirty, stringy beard. The movie does certainly showcase how times have changed since the 1980's.

4. Lethal Weapon, 1987

[John] I'm not sure that I ever actually saw this movie before, but I certainly would never have related it to Christmas. I'm not a huge Mel Gibson fan but I did enjoy this one.

[Lana] The first and best of the Lethal Weapon films, this was back when Mel was cool. This was one of my favourite buddy cop movies for a long time. Christmas was pretty inconsequential in this one.

5. The Ref, 1994

[John] I didn't know what to expect but it was actually kind of funny. Denis Leary & Kevin Spacey together... who knew? I do have to say that it was a little weird watching Kevin Spacey since all that has recently happened with him. Not sure I'd watch this one again but it wasn't bad.

[Lana] This was one of the more Christmas-oriented of our holiday adjacent movies, since a little more of the actual festivities were on display. The bickering parents even reminded me of some of the Christmas Eves of my childhood… to an exaggerated level of course. Ahh… good times.

6. You've Got Mail, 1998

[John] I'd never watched this - I think I maybe saw some scenes here and there over the years but definitely not the whole movie - and it turns out that it's quite a sweet movie. Christmas shows up for a moment... so... holiday adjacent it is! Not a bad movie for when you need a cozy moment under the blankets with a cup of hot chocolate or some really good tea.

[Lana] If you liked Sleepless in Seattle, you will probably enjoy this. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have wonderful chemistry and make a great couple in romantic comedies.


7. Edward Scissorhands, 1990

[John] This is only the second movie so far in the list that is not really new to me. This is a beloved one, though it is the first time I've looked at it with a Christmas lens. I think it certainly fits as holiday adjacent and it was really nice to watch this again.

[Lana] I must admit, I am a bit of a sucker for anything by Tim Burton. I love how the story about the snow ties the Christmas aspect into this wonderful film.

8. Pottersville, 2017

[John] We have loved this movie since the first time we watched it (earlier this year?). I think this one might be slightly more Christmassy than a true holiday adjacent movie but perhaps still not Christmassy enough to be an actual Christmas movie.

[Lana] With a name like Pottersville, that was to be expected I suppose, but we had to push the envelope somewhere. Michael Shannon stands out as a lovable store owner who would do anything for his fellow townsfolk. Seeing Ron Perlman as a “furry”, on its own makes this movie worth watching.

9. Just Friends, 2005

[John] So, this is where I remind people that I have no sense of humour (Lana disagrees but really, there isn't much comedy that I actually find funny). This had some fun elements but it lost my attention fairly early in. I can, however, see the holiday adjacent aspect. No need for me to see this one ever again.

[Lana] Allow me to clarify something. Immature humour (farts, gross-out, some slapstick, and unnecessary vulgarity) is the type of humour John doesn’t find funny. She certainly understands and laughs at more conventional comedy. This movie, however, appeals to the teenage boy inside us all.

[John] Ah, that’s it! I don’t have a teenage boy aspect to me! All good now… I can begin looking for funny things again.

10. The Long Kiss Goodnight, 1996

[John] This was my first time seeing this and I loved it. It wasn't super Christmassy but I get the holiday adjacent aspect. I loved the mess-ups they didn't edit out and the obvious green screen moments. Fantastic.

[Lana] It was almost as much fun to watch John enjoying this movie as it was to watch the film itself. Luckily, I had seen it before and remembered it quite well. That meant I was able to enjoy John's edge-of-her-seat, nail-biting reactions. For that reason alone, I may cherish this experience more than any of the other 12 movies this year.

[John] Yeah, I didn’t realize I was so into it until I shifted my position and realized I was literally on the edge of the seat, leaning towards the screen. Ha! I guess it held my attention.

11. Rent, 2005

[John] Neither of us had watched this before and we are so happy we finally got to it. It was not really Christmassy but I do see why it would be considered holiday adjacent. I had wanted to see this for so many years and it lived up to its reputation. I also loved seeing Jesse L. Martin in this role. I was familiar with his TV work from his Law & Order days, though I don't think Lana had seen him back in those days. I had completely forgotten he was in Rent.

[Lana] I didn’t really watch Law & Order but I do watch the current run of The Flash. I knew Jesse L. Martin could sing a little, from that show, but I was super impressed with him in Rent. I loved the fact we were able to add a musical to our list this year.

12. Batman Returns, 1992

[John] This is another one that I think I saw parts of before but never saw the whole thing. I liked it and enjoyed the ending reference to Christmas. I love pretty much anything with Michael Keaton. This was a nice one to finish off our 12 , for yet one more year.

[Lana] Another Tim Burton entry made even better by the fact that it is also a Batman movie. Nothing says Christmas like a penguin carrying a rocket launcher on its back.

[John] So true. That really was the most loving moment in this tale… heh.


[John] Have you watched any of these movies? Do you plan to? If you have or when you do, please let us know your thoughts - we would love to hear from you. Any chance you will sit down and do all 12?

Thanks for riding along with us again on this one. We hope you have all been enjoying the holiday season, regardless of what you do or don't celebrate. And if it's been a tough time of year for you, that's okay and we hope you find your peace and calm in the quiet moments. It’s okay to not be okay, even if everyone around you is singing and having a good time. You do what you need to do for you.

Hugs to all and may the new year bring you some happy.

Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas...


Wishing you and your families all the best this holiday season. May your holiday wishes come true.


Supercrawl 2018



[Lana] To be totally honest, I had never heard of Supercrawl before John and I had attended the Dundas International Buskerfest (you can read our article about it here) but it wasn’t long after when we found out about it.

While viewing some of the wonderful performers at Buskerfest, one musical act stood out to us for its use of a certain rarely seen instrument… a didgeridoo. We stood and listened to them for a while, quite enjoying their sound, before making sure to take note of their name – The Dirty Hippies - with the intent of including them in the article we knew we were going to write.

[John] We hadn’t been to the Dundas Buskerfest either and felt grateful to have had The Dirty Hippies experience. They really became one of the two major highlights of that day for us and we were quite happy to write about them.

[Lana] After writing our article, we received an appreciative thank-you message from the duo for our kind words and promoting them; as well as a personal invite to Supercrawl, hoping that they would get the chance to thank us in person. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I had no idea what Supercrawl was and since this exchange was taking place on social media (and I am usually the one that handles that part of Carbon Lilies – although John has been stepping up her game, I am proud to say), I had to see if this was something John would be interested in or had even heard of, herself (she hadn’t).

[John] I immediately looked it up and became quite excited, and I may have exuberantly declared we were going. There was really no question in my mind that we would be there, so we blocked out the dates in our calendars and planned our entire September around that weekend. (To be true, Supercrawl extends beyond the weekend but we knew we could only devote the Saturday and Sunday.)


[Lana] Downtown Hamilton, Ontario, was dedicating five city blocks to live music, food trucks, and vendors of various types of arts, crafts, and fashion. To top it off, the event was absolutely free. That, plus the chance to see the Dirty Hippies again, was easily enough to have us wanting to attend but the icing on the cake was when we saw who was playing on the Sunday afternoon.

Some years ago, while listening to the CBC’s Q: The Podcast, we were introduced to the music of an amazingly talented singer/songwriter named Ben Caplan. His beautifully gruff voice makes his music stand out in such a unique way that you cannot help but remember him. We immediately picked up the free downloads that he offered that day on the podcast and from there, our collection of his music grew. Now, all these years later, Ben Caplan was going to be returning to his hometown of Hamilton to perform at Supercrawl (his own first Supercrawl experience, too).

Another big draw for us was a couple of other performers we had previously seen in action; Juno Award Winner Harrison Kennedy and Juno Award Nominee Jesse O’Brien, both of whom we saw play at the Coach & Lantern pub in Ancaster (read that article here). With talented musicians like this, there was no way that we could miss Supercrawl.

We decided at that point that, not only were we going to attend, but we were going to need to make a two-day adventure out of it. Ben Caplan, Harrison Kennedy and Jesse O’Brien were all going to be performing on the Sunday, and we wanted to make sure we made time to not only see, but also chat with the Dirty Hippies. The best way to do that was to attend two separate days.

Saturday arrived and, through correspondence leading up to this day, we had learned that the Dirty Hippies were planning to arrive some time after 1:00 p.m. We showed up around 12:30 p.m. so we could get a lay of the land, so to speak. Over the span of the five city blocks, there were three main music stages: a fashion stage, a circus stage, and a family stage. Also, in this space were dozens of food trucks with nearly every type of cuisine you could imagine being presented in a portable offering (and some you would never think could be). Then there were the vendors; tents ran down the centre of the street or, in some cases, lined both sides of it. There were clothing vendors, paintings, prints, vinyl records, guitars, jewelry, sauces, sculptures… you name it and you might just have been able to find it or at least something related to it, on this stretch of merchandise.

[John] As we knew we didn’t have the money to spend on merchandise, we employed the ‘no eye contact’ rule and worked hard to not engage in conversation with the vendors. Every time we converse with them, we end up spending money and often on something we don’t really want or need. That did make it a challenge to properly peruse each stand or tent, but honestly, we were mostly there for the music so we didn’t mind much.


[Lana] It was incredibly hot that day and it didn’t take long before we decided we needed a drink and a moment out of the sun.

[John] A moment, an hour, an afternoon, a day…

[Lana] We stopped at this cozy little café called the Mulberry Street Coffeehouse, to cool down before continuing with the festivities.


[John] Correction: After walking around, melting, for another 30-45 minutes looking for a place to comfortably sit and cool down, we stopped at the Mulberry café. Note to self: Have plenty of water with us tomorrow!! (Food trucks do not really sell affordable beverages and this stretch of James Street does not have much in the way of convenience stores, though we eventually found one much later on.)

[Lana] We walked up and down the main strip checking out everything, while still keeping an eye out for the Hippies. We hadn’t yet found them when we happened upon a performance by Blue Stone Cloud Drum and White Pine Dancers, an Indigenous group consisting of dancers, singing drummers, and a story teller. They demonstrated a variety of traditional dances (including the popular hoop dance) and the importance of retaining one’s heritage through the story of playing a flute to a young son having trouble sleeping. Seeing a celebration of a culture that is not our own is always an exciting treat for us, especially when it is presented in such an entertaining way.

[John] This performance touched me and each aspect was really beautiful. The history shared was so important and meaningful and the artists were truly engaged. The story teller wonderfully wove together the history with the stories, making important connections with culture. Here are some links for you, if you’d to see some video:

Blue Stone Cloud Drum and White Pine Dancers
Male Traditional Dancer
Hoop Dancing Snippet

[Lana] After this performance ended, we made another pass up and down the strip before grabbing some lunch at a couple of the delightful food trucks. John stopped at the feasTO dumpling truck whereas I, quite a bit less adventurous when it comes to what crosses the old taste buds, had a yummy bacon poutine from the TCS Poutinerie truck.

With one more length of the entire event, walking in the intense heat was beginning to take a toll. We treated ourselves to a small ice cream as we slowly made our way back to the car. Unfortunately, we never did find the Dirty Hippies but we were planning to return the next day and hoped we would have better luck.

[John] As it turned out, the Hippies were suffering greatly from sitting in the heat all day themselves and had decided to start their set in the early evening instead of afternoon. They ended up arriving shortly after we had finally left, and played well into the late, late night hours. (Who could blame them in that heat?)

Arriving back home, I realized the heat had completely drained me. I could hardly stay awake (could hardly complete a sentence) and ended up turning in quite early for a decent sleep. I quickly set a reminder in my phone for the next morning, to make sure we had a few bottles of water each for the next day, and was then seemingly dead to the world within a few short minutes (seconds?) of lying down.

[Lana] We returned the next day and made our way directly to the stage where Ben Caplan was scheduled to play, so that we would be sure to get a good vantage point. We arrived at the perfect time; Ben and his band were just working on their sound check. It is a truly cool process to watch as they try to get all the levels just right to make themselves sound the best they possibly can for their audience.

[John] In high school, many of my friends were in bands and I came to realize that my favourite part of their performances and recording times, were the sound checks. There’s a casual comfort in these moments, when the focus is tight but mixed in are informal jokes and conversations that keep the energy calm and enjoyable. Then a quick break before the main work begins and you’ve been witness to the whole performance process. Watching Ben Caplan’s sound check was just like that. Watching the preparation, hearing the conversations, seeing the intense focus as everyone carefully listened for the slightest differences from one level, instrument, and bandmate, to the next. Watching and listening to them perform snippets of beautiful music to test the settings. Then after walking off stage for a brief moment to rest and refocus, they treated us to an incredible and intimate performance.

[Lana] I was actually a little surprised that there weren’t more people in attendance as it grew closer to showtime. Was it too early in the day? I only know that I figured there would be a lot more people there.

[John] I had the same thought and wondered if as it was the very first show of the day, combined with the sun and heat of mid-day, perhaps people were less inclined and/or less able to participate. Whatever the reason, we had a lovely intimate performance for a small group of us who were quite happy to be there and perhaps happy to not have a big crowd around us.

[Lana] When the show did start, we were not disappointed. The music was amazing… better in person than even when we heard him live on the podcast and listening to the recordings. I am so glad that we decided to make it to this performance.

[John] I love small shows. The big venues, I left behind a long time ago. I like the atmosphere of smaller venues and intimate performances. The energy is better and I feel like I can connect with the artists and music better; I can feel the music better. This show did not disappoint, at all.

Ben Caplan Guitar Sound Check Snippet
Ben Caplan Snippet
Ben Caplan and Band Snippet
Ben Caplan Performing

[Lana] Considering that we had left home early to get here in time for Ben Caplan (and needed some extra time to get ready due to being completely exhausted from the previous day’s heat), we hadn’t eaten since our very early breakfast. Feeling fairly hungry by now, we picked up a couple of corndogs just to tide us over.

[John] I had been looking forward to trying another food truck but when Lana mentioned corn dogs, I thought I would give one a try. I had honestly never eaten a corn dog and after this experience, I am not inclined to ever have another. Why do people eat these things and furthermore, why do they rave about them? It makes me think that funnel cake is not worth the effort either. People go on about how great funnel cake is and I’ve resisted thus far, but after the corndog trial I don’t know that I’ll ever give funnel cake a chance. I have to say, I really wish I had just gone to the truck I had been eyeing up before this. Corn dogs are not good. Not. At. All.

[Lana] It didn’t help that these particular corndogs were not cooked well at all. The meat itself was still so cold that it was on the edge of being frozen. I was so unhappy that this was John’s first experience with a food truck favourite.


[John] We wandered around for a while, keeping our eyes open for the Hippies. There were a few more street performers out on the Sunday than we saw on the Saturday afternoon. After walking for a while and taking a break to sit and replenish the fluids, we happily located the Dirty Hippies as they were just getting themselves set up for the day. We introduced ourselves and we were able to chat a little bit with them before they started. Chris (percussion) was running around a bit so we really spent most of the time with Luc (didgeridoo).

Luc shared with us that they had only started street performing a few years ago, at Supercrawl, with the goal of making $20 to go for a beer that night. Within an hour they had their beer money and decided to keep playing when they realized they still had a smiling crowd. After that experience they considered that it may be worth it to continue playing as street performers / buskers at various venues. While the Dirty Hippies are making music that they enjoy and while earning money for beer, they are making the crowds incredibly happy with their groove.

On this particular day, a friend of theirs showed up and gave Chris a bit of a break on percussion and took over for a while. After a few numbers, Chris then gave Luc a break and took over on didgeridoo for a while. Though we wanted to stay and listen for a much longer period, we finally did have to move on. We are so grateful we had this opportunity to meet with the guys and enjoy some more of their music.

Dirty Hippies Snippet
Dirty Hippies Performing

By the time we were leaving the Dirty Hippies, it was about 3:30pm and the group of musicians including Harrison Kennedy and Jesse O’Brien were scheduled to begin shortly before 4:00. We debated staying to see them as we had originally planned and had really hoped to do, but the heat had definitely taken its toll on us once again and we decided to make our way home instead.

[Lana] As much as I had wanted to stay to see Harrison Kennedy and Jesse O’Brien play, I was so exhausted by the heat, that hearing John say it was okay to skip the rest of the festival was truly music to my ears.

[John] This was a really great weekend and we have since decided to plan our future Septembers around this event in the coming years. We are grateful to the Dirty Hippies for opening our experience to Supercrawl and for taking time to talk to us while we were there. Thank you, Luc and Chris, for your music and the atmosphere you create, and for your generosity.

And, thank you Ben Caplan for a fantastic little concert and giving us an opportunity to see you live and in your hometown. Finally, thank you to the Blue Stone Cloud Drum and White Pine Dancers for the education, the music, the dancing, the stories, the knowledge, and the perspectives you all shared. What a fantastic weekend and we feel privileged to have been a part of it all.

Luc and Chris – we are so sorry we didn’t get this out when we said we would… we need to learn to have more realistic timelines. Thank you again!

Happy Winter, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, everyone! Stay tuned for our annual Christmas photos AND our 12 movies for the 12 days of Christmas, coming soon!

Much love to you all, from us.

Beware... It's Krampusnacht!


We here at Carbon Lilies hope you have all been good this year… because Krampus comes tonight!

Lana gets to play Krampus this year.

Lana gets to play Krampus this year.