Thursday, 30 October 2014


Will our kid's read the same way as us?

Pine Tree Post | Books

Instead of the flashlight under the blankets, hiding from the parents, trying to get through that one last chapter, will that classic childhood memory be more like: hiding under a blanket with a light up Kobo...?

Here, in the Place Under the Pine, reading is a large part of life. Tens of thousands of pages are read annually by its adult citizens, (upwards of 40,000 page in 2013), with a similar amount read to the younger citizens. A great majority of this reading is done through physical, get-from-the-library, old school technology...paper books. But, that old fashioned way of reading is changing.

This little guy is readin' it old school!

As noted a couple of years ago, Audiobooks have been one way Lolli has 'consumed' literature. But, until last year she had only read, and been read, hold-in-your-hand-page-turners. Then Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the ebook version, was read to her. It was no better, or no worse, than if it had been read in hard cover. A novel is still a novel. Just pages of words, right?
It is until the device runs out of power.
Paper books do not run out of power.
But, overall the reader and listener did not find the experience of an ebook much different.
Outside of the book, the story, the words, there are some pretty significant benefits to having ebooks around. They tend to be less expensive. They are better for the trees. They open up a whole new crowd of authors (it is an inexpensive ways of getting their writing out there). But, by far, the biggest plus is that they are a space saver.
A bookcase or two (or more) can fit on the memory card of this slim piece of plastic!

Lolli's bookshelf
Boy's room bookshelf
The drawbacks are mostly sentimental (unless you are a paper company);you cannot feel the pages when you turn them, you do not get that distinct smell of an old book, you cannot feel the weight of an epic hardcover in your hands, you cannot see your massive collection of yard sales finds stacked beside your bed just begging to be read.

Still lovin' those used books
As more of the world turns digital will books follow? Will our kid's kid's reading experience look like this?

Kids nowadays read, listen, and surf the net all at the same time!

Or do books hold such a special place in our lives, our society, our culture, that we will always remember books like this?

Reading with loved ones.
Getting lost in the pages of good book.
Learning to read from words printed on paper.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014




Chef Jen is putting together a portfolio of quick meals (like her Baked Ziti) to keep the citizens of the Place Under the Pine well fed with healthy and delicious food.

The latest addition is a hearty, great tasting, soup made quick and easy in the crock pot.

Serve it with an organic grainy homemade bread...or, a white loaf from Metro

If you are thinking great tasting and crock pot should not be used in the same sentence, you are not alone. In theory the crock pot sounds like a busy cooks dream; you throw a bunch of stuff together in the morning, leave it and forget about it for six to eight hours, and by dinnertime you have a fully cooked meal. However, finding a recipe that makes great tasting food come out of 'The Crock' is harder than it sounds. Which, unfortunately, has given these meals the reputation of tasting like 'crock pot' (or at least that is the term my Father in Law uses).

The Meatball Minestrone Soup breaks away from the rest of The Crock recipe pack and actually tastes outstanding. It was given reviews of, "Mmmm", "Mmm", and "10 out of 10" by local food critics and they all asked for seconds! On the night this meal was served there was a visiting neighborhood kid who claimed this was the 2nd best meal she'd ever had (Steak being her number one meal). Now, if that doesn't make you want to get the crock pot out and start cookin' I don't know what will?

Mmm, Mmm, seconds please.


THROW the following things into the Crock for 6 hours on low temp.

  • 1 can diced tomotoes (Italian seasoned)
  • 1 can plain tomato sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 large zucchini diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 1 cup chopped kale (ideally fresh from the back garden)
  • garlic powder

ADD 1 can of tomato soup 30 mins before serving

Separately cook meatballs and ditalini pasta.

SERVE like so:
In a Bowl
Add Pasta
Then add Soup
Then put Meatballs on top
Last, sprinkle some Grated Parmesan cheese

Here are some suggested products to use...we are not getting paid to say this (it's a good idea though).

Little pasta will turn to mush if left in the crock pot all day
The 'lean' meatballs have all the flavour, but, less...bad stuff.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


Cutting back

Garden Update #6

The Ministry of Urban Agriculture has finished analyzing the historical numbers while also taking a real time appraisal of the garden and decided it is time to "cut 'r down". It is that time of the year again where frost has taken the last of the tomatoes that did not turn red, and when the only thing green and edible is the brussels sprouts. It is time to get serious - cut back everything that is not growing and shore up the stuff that is still alive so it will survive the fall and possibly the winter.

The Dirty Hands project, the educational program where the younger citizens literally get their hands dirty with garden work, has provided some footage of the cutting down event.
The first phase of the 'Take Down' was pruning of the raspberry bushes. Here is an educational video produced by the Dirty Hands Project.

After this video, one of the eager students was given sharp cutters and sent in, past the thorny branches, to cut down the old raspberry stalks. What great hands-on experience! 

Sometimes you need to saw through the bigger stalks.

The student made sure to dress in appropriate clothing; his pajamas, a pair of rainbow magic gloves, and a baseball cap.
After the hour of hands-on, hand scraping, experience, he was sent out to find a recycle box full of leaves to use as mulch. Boy, was he proud to get that job done. Just check out the look on that student's face!

This part of the garden is ready for winter.

It is important that the old raspberry stalks and leaves be removed from the garden to prevent any disease from setting in next year. The student was offered another memorable experience of piling the thorny branches in the corner of the yard until they could be taken away and composted somewhere else. Another job he was proud to accomplish (with little to no blood).

Anybody need some thorn covered branches?

Next, the Dirty Hands Project worked on providing some support to the brussel sprouts, in hopes they will continue growing into the fall and possibly the winter. This exercise started with filling a recycling box full of leaves from the neighbourhood trees. Eager E sure gained some raking experience that day. Here is a little video of the mulching process.

The finished product is something to show off - here it is.

Mulched and propped up with a stick - this thing is sure to withstand the cold Canadian winter!

The tradition, that started last year, of having brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving continued again in 2014. A little helper was brought along to carry the basket as the Head Master of the Dirty Hands Project picked the sprouts off the plant.

Lil' Oskie likes those green things so much he even tries to eat them raw!

Even though there was a basket picked, the per plant yields of brussels were very low compared to last year. It was expected that this year, with six plants compared to one last year, that yields would be five times higher. It does not appear that yields will even be two times higher, which is very disappointing. A committee has been set up to look into this matter.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014



Pine Tree Post | Sports Page

A Positive Year for Summer Sports

You may recall last year's summer sports superstars - E had unmatched soccer success and Lolli retired from baseball after her fantastic rookie year. Even though they finished on a high note, there were many ups and downs.

2014 was a much different year. Only positives. No complaints about going, no 'when is it time to go home'...there were even a few 'really, it's over already!'
For ten weeks, almost every Monday in the summer of 2014, the citizens of the Place Under The Pine could be found out on the soccer pitch. Lolli and E took turns practising and scrimmaging with, what the English call, a football.

European Football
The rest of the crew would be nearby on a picnic blanket taking in every kick and goal. 

All ages were encouraged to play
They were part of an extremely well run program put on by Kingston City Soccer Academy. The coaches were professional players from Kingston FC who brought their passion and skills to share with the kids.
The set up was ideal for little ones. Broken down into 15 minute sections - 1 skill practise, 1 soccer game, 1 skill practise, 1 soccer game. This timing kept the kids from getting bored and picking flowers, but, also gave them a chance to work on both the basic skills and play a real game. The small two minute breaks in between gave the kids a chance to run over for some much needed water too.

Water break - insert Tim Horton's product placement
Switching over from baseball saw a real improvement in Lolli's participation. This year she was all over the field, running, kicking, working up a real sweat. Those drink breaks could not come soon enough. Even though scoring is not the true measure of success, she did put two in the net on the second last day - her best game of the year.

Mastering the dribble

The smiles were plentiful and the time spent with good friends are sure to be memories she will remember. There has been no confirmation we will see a sophomore soccer season from Lolli, but, the odds predict it.

Soccer pals

E also worked up a sweat. In fact, he like having wet hair so much he wanted to grow it longer to have more sweaty hair? 

He was a powerhouse on his team, being in on 10 of the teams 12 goals - putting in 8 himself (3/4 of the entire teams goals were from his foot)! E is a natural. Blessed with high sports IQ and great coordination. He is full of self determination and confidence on any sort of field, which he showed again this year. He was the leader in his small group and looked to be in the top percentage of all the players in the program. 

E blasts past the defender on his way to the net
He is looking forward to kicking the ball again in 2015.

Soccer clean up was sometimes just as fun as the games
Ice cream on the front step after the game was enjoyed by all


Some New Accomplishments this Fall

Hockey has been on E's mind since he was a toddler. He took a liking to it instantly and was found watching Hockey Night in Canada before he could even skate. This fall E took to the ice, bundled in equipment, hockey stick in hand, and full of his usual self confidence.
The first skate was an evaluation, allowing coaches to rank skills and make up balanced teams. The program was made up of first timers, like E, and second year kids who have some experience under their blades. To onlookers it was quickly apparent who the second years were and who the first years were. Being a first year, E found himself trailing behind the pack, a position he is not used to being in.
Was this a blow to his self esteem?

His first comment when he stepped off the ice was...'did you see how fast I was! If I didn't have all of this equipment on I would have been the fastest out there!" 
So, no, this did not damage his confidence one bit. In fact, it seemed to motivate him. A challenge he is sure he can match. 
Only two weeks later he is back to being at or near the front, at this point powered by pure determination and sweat. But, if this sport is like any other E has taken up, the skill will come soon enough and he will be leading the way again.

A sniper and part of the crunch crew - that's his goal

True to form, in the first game the team played, E scored a goal. One of many, I'm sure, will come. 

Blue and Yellow are his colours this season
Fun fact: E is #12 again (same number as soccer and same number Lolli had in T-Ball)

Unlike E, Lolli does not have the same level of competitiveness when it comes to sports. Academics, yes, she puts time and effort in to being at the top of her class and has remained there since she started school. Sports, especially team sports, have never really been of much interest to Lolli. However, this fall she tried something new, an individual sport - cross country running. Her parents, teachers, and other adults all predicted she would be a natural. Her active lifestyle, energetic personality, and long legs make a good foundation for a runner. All fall she took her training very serious, making sure she had the right equipment every running day. She even practised on weekends. When the day of try outs came she was ready.
To qualify for the team, her age category had to run around the track four times without walking. She did it.
Only a handful of kids in her age group made it on to the team. They qualified to run in the next round, which meant taking a bus out to the Westbrook Golf course and competing against a bunch of other local schools.
The race day was windy and cloudy with the constant threat of rain. This only heightened the already electric atmosphere, and, some believe, made the kids run faster.  

The start of a running career
Right from the starting shot O found her ideal pace, which at the beginning of the race when many of the other girls were sprinting, turned out to be a speed that put her near the back of the pack. However, by the last corner she had moved up and had the energy left to sprint past multiple racers and finish in a respectable 72nd out of 150-160 kids. Pretty impressive for a first timer.

Faster than a high speed camera!
With a smile on her face she confirmed she would race again, in the spring, and next fall. O may have found her sport?

Kingston | 13:35

Friday, 3 October 2014



Pine Tree Post | Science page

Researchers have again proven that water has an extreme effect on human beings. Not only in the physical sense, but, also in the psychological sense. You may recall similar results from the summer 2014, and the spring 2013 experiments.

Experiment 14-3, "Singing In The Rain", allowed two children to play outside in the rain without any footwear. The feel of running water, a torrent rushing down the curbside, on their bare feet had a significant impact on their mood.

In this experiment the children were strapped into a van, driven around town doing 'errands', and told that due to the weather they could not go bike riding. The subjects were very irritated.
When they were released from the confined area (the van) and allowed to remove their footwear and 'play' in the water the screams of frustration turned to screams of delight. The change in mood and outlook was 180 degrees. Their view on life and the weather went from very negative to over-the-top positive in a matter of seconds.
This was surprising to some researchers since the water being 'played' in was only cold rainwater running down the street. This led to more questions by the researchers; is there an inverse relationship between water temperature and mood, is there any correlation between the current force of the water and mood...the list expanded to ten pages.
More experiments are expected to be performed in the future.

Kingston | 11:13