Tuesday, 30 September 2014



Pine Tree Post | Fruits Page

There is one autumn tradition that has been going on for at least a decade now - apple pickin'. Every year around this time the folk from the Place Under The Pine drive out highway 33, past the old homestead in Bath, until they reach Wynn Farms.
A bushel of apples is picked, a squash or some cider from the roadside stand is bought, and the crew is back on the road home (a smuggled, half eaten apple in hand) to enjoy a big Sunday dinner.

We typically start the trip with annual picture taken by the Mac sign. This started when Lolli was a wee one and has continued to this very day.

It is a challenge getting all three to stay still for a pic when there are apples to be picked.

After the event Oskie settled in with an apple and we got our Mac sign picture.

Inside joke.

A chip off the old block eh?
Although we go every year, it is different every time. Some years the apples are huge. Some years they are small. Some years we run deep with an entourage of our extended family. Sometimes, like this year, our entire crew fit into one van.
As well, the farm has grown over the years. They have adding a corn maze and some photo friendly put-your-head-through-the-hole signs like these...

Yee haw.

Grammy and Papa came this year

Historically this trip would take upwards of an hour, but, lately with more young and able helpers a bushel of apples can be picked in about fifteen minutes. On a similar note, a bushel of apples which used to take upwards of a month or more to eat, can be used up in a couple of weeks. A new tradition of two trips to the orchard may the new norm in upcoming years.

This year the weather was warm, and the apples were tasty, and the company was all in good spirits. As always the children obeyed the special orchard rules we have taught them over the years.

Reminder: No climbing the trees!

Reminder: Try an apple before you pick from that tree.

Reminder: Stuff a few extra apples in your pocket to really get your money's worth....an old family tradition!

The next few days after apple pickin' were full of apple themed baked goods. The wonderful smells of apple muffins and apple crisp filled the PUTPs.

Sliced, spiced, and sugared.

The secret crumble is added.

The apple goodness is enjoyed by all.

Can't wait for next year!

Monday, 22 September 2014


Construction Notice 
The Boys Room will be off limits from the general public for short periods over the spring and possibly the summer. Crews will be painting, trimming, and decorating during this time. Please be aware that some or all of the contents of The Boys Room will be removed, and placed temporarily, in the upstairs hallway or in various other parts of the house. Watch your step!


Pine Tree Post | Interior Decorating and Design Page

The Place Under The Pine's star designer, Jen, is working her creative magic again. This time she has taken on The Boys Room. This former spare room turned nursery had slowly devolved into a mishmash sort of a room that functioned ok, but, did not have any pizzazz. Most of the colours and fabrics in the room were from E's baby set up, which was from around five years ago. Since that time he has grown into a full fledged little boy and lil' Oskie has moved in as well. The room was in need of an update, a refresh...just a little tender loving care.
As with most of the PUTP's redesign/DIY projects, the initial planning takes the most time. With so many projects, and so little time to actually work on them, most ideas have years to percolate through our designer's brain before they make it to the top of the 'to-do' list. For months, possibly years, leading up to this makeover, Jen would often be heard suggesting ideas/paint colours/themes/projects/etc for The Boys Room. "Nautical" was one theme that seemed to stick. Navy Blue, was THE colour that had to be incorporated. The room's occupants strongly argued for red to be worked in somehow (however, the suggestion for red walls was vetoed right away).

On a project as big as The Boys Room it usually takes a 'spark' of some sort to really get things fired up. In this case it was a blue and white striped bed sheet on a shelf in Target.
Then, another coincidence happened involving a can of paint. To the untrained eye it looked like any old gallon of grey paint in the mistint/oops/returned bin at The Home Depot. But, to anyone with a designer-eye it was almost perfect, one shade darker than the colour Jen had been looking for...but, at $9 for the gallon (instead of $40) it was worth the trade off.
Those were the things that sparked the reno. Without that bed sheet or that can of paint, the project probably would have dragged its feet for another few weeks, months, maybe even years. Funny how things work out, eh?

The painting began. To spice things up, not that cement grey walls need any, Jen painted a few stripes on one of the walls.  A focal wall it is called. So, out came the level, some green tape, and in no time flat Jen was rolling out some stripes.

A nautical looking round mirror was hung and a couple of hooks for robes and towels were screwed into the wall. Done.


A special thanks to our painter (and ceiling fan installer) Papa, who helped get the project done on a tight schedule.

Don't spill Papa!
Next, the entire layout of the room was changed to open up the space and give it a more 'mature' look. Easy way to mature-up a room - remove any baby change tables. 
Another essential thing for making the room 'grow-up' was a desk. E needed a space to sit and draw, write, and create.  The solution - that old, solid as a brick, family heirloom, desk was moved in. The only problem was it was painted yellow and had bird cutouts modge-podged to the side of it.
It needed a new paint job - here is where the navy blue makes its first appearance. It was a long and grueling process, as it always is when trying to paint furniture, but, Jen's painting skills made it look extraordinary.

A unique metal piece above the desk was just the thing to hold all the pens, markers, glue sticks, scissors, and everything else a little guy needs to make his creative masterpieces. The clippy boards were put up to hold these works of art, and a splash of a red (and old fish shaped jello mold) added some fun.

Everything you need to be creative is within arms reach.

Out of some old plaid fabric, that just happened to perfectly match the colours of the room, Jen sewed up a pillow to make that hard wood chair a little comfier. We all know that you cannot have a really creative time without making a mess, so, down in the corner, set back in the shadows, is a bright red little garbage can. Sometimes, it's the small detail that can make a room.

It is expected that many hours will be spent at this desk.

E's bed was given an entire overhaul - from paint to pillows. The striped sheets and pillow cases were exactly what fit the bill for this makeover. The red anchor pillow was a great find that fits in perfectly.
A wire basket attached (and reattached, and re-reattached...it's a long story) to the wall at the end of his bed provides a spot where he can store a book or two that can be quickly grabbed for a bedtime story.

The new look bed (wire basket missing from wall - see pictures at end of post)

A matching set of the striped sheets for the crib was also available at Target. The crib is only a temporary set up until Oskie is old enough for a bed, then a bunk bed of some sort will be brought in. But, it does not feel like a neglected corner. With the addition of a string of whimsical elephants and the matching sheets, the temporary set up fits right in.

My PJs match my bed!

The window treatment between the beds really tie everything together. Always resourceful, designer Jen made these curtains out of the sheet set for E's bed. Can you think of a better way to find matching curtains?
The striped canvas pieces, with little anchors in the corner, were also made by Jen. This entire wall was made by her hands and cost only a few dollars - very impressive!

More stripes!

Another bargain project, that looks amazing and is a highlight of the room, is the red shadow box/display box. A garage sale find, that was haggled down by expert bargainer Matt to a mere $10, had some obvious potential. But, the keen eye of Jen, and her amazing vision, saw the great impact (and useful storage space) a big piece like this could make in the room. The colour makes it pop, the small 'guys' and cars make it interesting, but most of all it is beloved by E. The more red stuff in the room, the better, is his motto.


I love red stuff.

E was no slacker in the room makeover. He helped out where he could, like putting together the perfect sized red stool from Ikea, which would be put beside his bed as a sidetable to hold a lamp and an alarm clock.

See Oskie, this is called and Allen key. It's different than a screwdriver...

A space to put Oskie's knick-knacks was another task that designer Jen pulled off with her signature flare. The old white shelf has new life with the addition of bright frames, a clock, and other interesting eye candy, on the wall underneath it.

It is important to have an analog clock around so children can learn to tell time.

The closet, which has been lacking a door since the beginning of the Place Under the Pine, was given a remake approx. one year ago. Cube shelving makes things tidy and provides much more storage than it appears. Two fully stocked wardrobes (and you know how many clothes each kid has) are in that closet. 

This is a great place to hide during a game of hide and seek.

Overall, the remake accomplished everything the room needed...and more. It is now more than a place where the boys once slept. It is a place to spend time; drawing, writing, thinking, reading, listening to music, and just spending time. It is cozy. It is fun. It is the place to be. Oh, and it kind of looks like a cabin on a ship that is sailing to the south pole on a wild adventure...

Kids enjoying the room during a break in the makeover process.

Here is the finished product. Adding a baby increases the cute factor by ten.

The Boys enjoying their room (aka making a mess)

KINGSTON | 00:05

Monday, 15 September 2014


The Good Old Hockey Game You Can Make Yourself

Pine Tree Post - Craft Time

If you are like some Place Under the Pine's Dads (in your mid thirties, borderline hoarder), you will have a box of hockey cards from the mid 90s in your closet/basement/storage unit. It may even be in your hands right now, headed towards the recycling box. Stop right there! You have an opportunity to get one more ounce of fun out of these cards with this idea. Here is a chance to play with your old toys again, and get away with it - just call it a craft for the kids. You will also burn a couple of hours in the process, which could be just what you need on a rainy day with two bored kids. Another plus, if you need it, is that the craft is free! All you will need is some old hockey cards (remove any Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux cards...burn the Brett Hull ones), some scissors, tape, and an old cardboard box (optional).

Last Saturday, the crafting crew of the PUTPs found themselves cooped up in the house due to the weather - a rainy day. With a couple of hours to spare in the afternoon they went to work on this Hockey card craft.
Out came the scissors, tape, and "Dad's old hockey cards".

Here is the step by step instructions "Dad" gave the craft crew:

Step One: Take a card and cut the player out. It works best if the picture is vertical. Cut along the sides to make a rectangle shape you will tape to their skates to allow them to stand, and cut a hockey stick shape out to use as their hockey stick.

Step 1 - Cut player, Cut rectangle off of side, Cut hockey stick out of other side
 Step Two: Tape the rectangle shape to their skates and tape the stick to their hands. It doesn't have to look pretty.

Tape rectangle piece to skates and attach stick to hand area

Step Three: Fold his foot rectangle thingy back on either side to help him stand up. This may take some finagling to find the right balance and hockey stick length. 

Fold sides back and stand them up.
These were the extent of the instructions given out by "Dad". Of course, the craft crew had to take things further.
A big piece of cardboard was liberated from the recycling bin by the craft crew who quickly turned it into a hockey rink. Lines were drawn and the face off circles were marked in. Even ads were cut out  of the weekly flyers to paste onto the boards just like at the real arena.

Dad did not intervene in this creative time, but, instead told the craft crew to take their time. Which they did, adding another half hour on to what was later termed 'distraction time'.
Dad was seen drinking coffee while this was going on.
Awhile later, with sides taped up and adverts on the boards, the hockey team was set up for a photo op.

Then the games began!

A variety of games were invented by the craft crew.

A) The Classic - A paper ball was hit by the paper hockey player. The hand holding the player moved it anywhere on the board at anytime.
B) The Freeze - Each participant had so many 'guys'. They set them up and dropped the ball/puck. The closest player got to hit it. They moved their players around after each shot.
C) The Crunch - One participant, usually a five year old boy, took one paper player and crunched all of the other paper players. This was the most popular game by far.

CRUNCH CREW - three down, nine to go!

Additions were added to the ice including nets and a penalty box.

Two minutes for tripping to be served hanging upside down
Another wonderful creation was the Zamboni. This version has 'kind-of-lighting-bolts-kinda-wings' which made it 'zoom' and clear the ice faster than a regular Zamboni.

Zamboni - Lighting bolt winged version

This free craft was a great chance to use those old, highly sentimental valued, hockey cards one last time before they hit the recycling box and also an hour (or more) distraction for the kids. Win win in the world of kids crafts.

Kingston | 19:03

Tuesday, 9 September 2014



Garden Update

Actual food consumed from the garden has remained low in this last part of the summer, mainly due to the type of crops in production. A few leaves of kale have been used in salads and soups. A dozen yellow 'grape' tomatoes have also been added to salads recently. However, the majority of the garden is growing brussels sprouts, which will not be ready until at least the first frost. Therefore, the local gardeners have been left with excess time on their hands.

These sprouts will grow much larger of the next month or more.

Kale can also grow into the late fall
This year's small tomato is a ridiculously bright yellow

Along with producing high quality food for the citizens of the Place Under the Pine, the gardening program is also in place to teach the young students about plant life. But, with this lull in gardening time an alternate source of plant life to study needed to be found.
What some might call a stroll through the woods could also be considered a hands-on biology lesson on the local flora and fauna. Studying plants you could also say. A great alternative to 'garden time'.
The older students were assembled and taken out to the woods - Parrot's Bay.

Getting out into the field and leaving the confines of the fenced in yard changed the entire attitude of some students. They become energized and celebrated life by, say, throwing milk weed into the wind (both a lesson on milk weed identification and the scientific forces of wind/lift).


The students went from 'ho hum' to finding long lost relics and using their forensic skills to determine, as in this example, how a 60's era car became parked in the middle of this second generation forest with a tree growing through the middle of it.

Some students become almost like different people when they were immersed in the natural world. They become more generous and empathetic, even offering to piggy back the younger children who become tired.

It was a wonderful experience to take the students out of their normal habitat and head into the woods. The trees, the air, the rocks, the stumps, the bugs, the sun...the entire natural world made their neurons fire and their inquisitive minds inquiz. It was like they were meant to be out there. There is no doubt now that the forest and fields are the ideal learning/play ground for these children. It was a amazing thing to see, like the hidden wildflowers they found.

No idea what kind of flower this is, but, it was really neat!

Kingston | 1:05