Monday, 7 December 2015



The Place Under the Pine was bustling with activity this weekend - Christmas inspired activity.
It was the second biggest (or maybe third biggest, depending on who you ask) event of the Holiday Season - Putting up the Christmas Tree!!!

For many reasons, from cost to bendability, the PUTP uses an artificial tree. The 'construction' of the tree is an activity everyone participates in.
Lifelike branches are sorted.

Once the tree is assembled and strung with lights the glass balls come out. A nice base layer of green, pink, clear...almost every colour...fragile (very fragile) glass balls are placed strategically on the tree.

Lolli is almost as tall as the tree!

Sometimes the inevitable happens...little hands drop balls.

Action shot!


Xmas-tree-decorating-with-three-year-olds-tip#53 : Place something soft under the tree. A cushion made of a thick felt tree skirt will ensure glass balls do not break when they fall from a height of around three feet. Help your child learn that glass balls can be their Christmas tree decorating friend.

Bodies of older siblings will also work.

Me? Again? I did it last year!
 After the appropriate number of balls were put in the tree, a photo op was taken.

Photo contains: Sad puppy, middle child, and ?

 Next, giant plastic bins filled with ornaments were cracked open. With an overabundance of d├ęcor Jen took control and prevented mass chaos. With her in charge, distributing ONE ornament at a time, the decorating process ran smoothly.
With the classic Christmas songs playing in the background, the tree was filled with memories. It seems each ornament has a story - some dating back to Christmas '79. Every bough was weighted down with some trinket. Lolli focused on getting the top branches, Elliott the middle, and Oskie...well, he focused on one branch and one branch only.



With the Christmas tree comes the annual advent calendar. This beauty has 24 little pockets each holding a hand crafted felt ornament to be hung above. Every day brings a surprise (what ornament are we getting today? Is it the pink fish!?) and every decoration brings us one day closer to the big event!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015



Reading is a major pastime for the citizens of the Place Under The Pine. Bookshelves overflowing with books are found in every room of the house - even in the closets of some rooms (see picture below).
One young citizen is caught hiding in the closet reading Sandra Boynton!
It is a common (and heartwarming) sight to find our emerging readers practicing their new found skills by reading to their younger (illiterate) siblings.

Reading has always been a part of the PUTP daily life, but, the weekly page counts vary up and down depending on many factors - time, outside commitments, current book choice, etc.
Recently, reading time has been fairly high, and one reason may be the current book choices - strangely, all dog related books.
Here is run down of the tail waggin' books.
Toddler aged reading - Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey
This book is popular with the 2 to 3 year old crowd right now (even though it is well past Halloween). Possibly because the protagonist is a wiener dog AND his name is Oscar. Also, this book is written by Dav Pilkey, whom you may recall as the author of the extremely popular Captain Underpants series (which is the number 1 requested book series by six year old boys in the PUTP - see review). Pilkey is good at writing for kids, and that's a fact.
Six year old reading - Ribsy - Beverly Cleary
Ribsy is Henry Huggins dog - Henry is part of the Ramona series (which is another extremely popular series in the PUTP). Ribsy is a dog on the loose. He finds himself lost and has many misadventures as he tries to find his way home. There is just enough humour and just enough action to keep the six year old in your house asking for 'just one more chapter, please'.

Another novel full of doggie misadventures. Mowat's writing is full of exaggerated tales that are humorous and heartwarming. This is Farley's account of his childhood dog named Mutt, and as the title suggests he was a dog that did not want to be a dog - it seemed he wanted to be more human than animal. This classic novel, written in the late 50s, is full of old sayings and Canadiana culture of the time - which is a great thing for a young Canadian reader...and even for the older one who is actually reading the story out loud.

All of these canine centred stories have sparked some heavy ready lately, which is saying a lot about these books. The PUTP is not a haven for the dog lover, in fact, some citizens openly admit to despising dogs (or most dogs), books based on dogs have to be very, very, good books to be read in the PUTP.

Happy Reading.

Monday, 30 November 2015



What has kept the citizens of the PUTP oh so busy lately? A mixture of crafting and helping to set up and run a craft sale for the kids' school. The energy around the PUTP has been full of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and charity as every person (young and old) has gotten involved in this event at some level.
Many hours and countless litres of creative juice were used by local crafters who made a variety of things; felt ornaments, rainbow loom bracelets, playdough kits in jars, and stockings.

Felt owls - natural habitat is a Christmas tree.

Grammy and Elli take their shift at the sale
The day of the actual event was hectic, but, as anyone who has taken on events like this (even for a great cause) know how time consuming and energy depleting they can be. They will also know the great feeling of satisfaction and pride when the events are successful. And, this event was such a success that it will have to be repeated next year! Click here to see more.

In addition to the crafts and baked goods there was a henna artist

Oskie was one lucky recipient of a henna dolphin

Monday, 9 November 2015



There are many, many, wonderful things about eggs:
  • Inexpensive
  • 6 grams of high quality protein
  • 50% of your daily intake of B12
  • Pleasing shape
  • Source of Vit D
  • Can be hard or soft boiled
Another really great thing about eggs is that they are easy to cook. One easy variation is commonly known as 'scrambled'. It may sound a us, it is delicious.
In the following video Olivia shows us how easy it is to prepare 'Scrambled' eggs.

Many other condiments can be applied to the cooked eggs - hot sauce is one. Ketchup, but that was already shown in the video. Ok, it looks like only ketchup and hot sauce. Enjoy.

Monday, 2 November 2015



Can last year's Muppet Invasion be topped?

Last Year
YES! The citizens of the Place Under the Pine think so. Maybe if they harness some of what makes Halloween, well, Halloween it is possible - not the scary or the spooky, but, the CANDY!

Candy is synonymous with Halloween, at least in the mind of most kids. So, what better theme to work off than candy?
This year's costume theme winner...(drum roll)...WILLY WONKA! Remember that classic 70's movie all about candy? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The golden ticket? Anyone, anyone?

The original cast

The PUTP version
The kids really took on the roles they were given. Lolli (seen below in Violet Beauregard wear) chomped on her whad of gum while trick or treating.
Elli (top hatted like Mr. Wonka himself) hobbled along on his cane - for the first few steps down the sidewalk.

Oskie (in his Oompa Loompa workwear) hummed that repetitive Oompa Loompa tune the entire night.

♪Looompa Looompa♪

Friday, 30 October 2015



Sometimes those simple meals can be the most satisfying thing on the menu. Lately the citizen of the Place Under the Pine have been eating simple and loving it.

Macaroni and tomato juice - all it takes is two ingredients to make this wonderful meal. Add a bit of cheese still keeps it simple, but, adds much more flavour.

Perfect Autumn Food
Beans on toast - A can of beans on toasted white bread may not hit the top ten list of healthiest meals, but, for the PUTP it is a well loved classic that is enjoyed a few times during the year.

Any flavour of canned bean will work - with molasses, with syrup, with wieners even?

Meat, potatoes, and a vegetable (or two) - Not much doctoring with these ingredients to make them oh so tasty. This simple combination of food, a throw back retro meal for many, is not seen around the PUTP very often. But, recently this meal style has made a couple of appearances.

Meatloaf, potatoes, brussels, and corn niblets

Pork roast, carrots, squash, and potatoes

Simple ideas for Lunchboxes

Cereal and raisin trail mix

Cheese and crackers (wrap in plastic if made the night before to prevent sogginess the next day)

Fried egg sandwich. Don't forget the ketchup!
Add a dip - simple as that
To simplify lunch making for the multi kid family make identical lunches and snacks

Simple Desserts - There are many options for simple desserts. A bowl of fresh fruit or maybe some jello. But, in the PUTP dessert is more often a complicated affair involving layers, creaming, numerous ingredients, processing, baking, waiting, the end always scrumptious.

Coconut cream awaiting whipped cream

Monday, 26 October 2015



Approx one week ago some lovely kale was cut from the garden. It was the last edible plant growing in the 2015 garden. Within minutes of the last kale stem being snipped, a yellow Tonka truck and digger drove into the garden and did some dirty work.

The last of this year's kale

One of the dozen giant bowlfuls grown in the 2015 garden
As the Tonka trucks cleared away any evidence of the 2015 garden ever existing a laugh could be heard. A laugh of pure, unabashed joy.
Since that day many holes have appeared - one hole measuring over a foot deep. The soil has been churned better than if six pigs were given free reign of the backyard for a weekend. A dirt digging service may be started up in the near future with two energetic boys as key employees.

Ha ha haaa
Only feet away, quietly minding her own business, Lolli was enjoying herself as well. Her first pet was being given a home. She had caught a ladybug and was preparing a container filled with the kinds of things she thought a ladybug would like - flowers, leaves, rocks.

As a special end of the season treat, the Garden Committee has made a short garden video.
The Committee attempted to take pictures of the garden at one week intervals, in the same location, at the same angle, to make an interesting video showing the cycle of the PUTP's tiny garden.
There is much to improve on for next year, but, for a first year project it came out ok...mediocre, but, ok.
Without further ado - The Garden Over Time

Until next year...

Eat your yellows.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015



The Place Under The Pine started out as a quiet place - mainly full of artists, crafters, musicians, and readers. As the PUTP grew in population the demographic make up started to change. No longer were the citizens a homogenous group of artsy types, but instead, they have shifted towards a more sporty type. The younger cohort, those under the age of 10 who make up 60% of the population, are the cause of this shift. As this younger segment ages they engage in more and more sporting activities. The older generation, instead of rejecting this change have embraced it. They now spend more hours at arenas and basketball courts than they do crocheting, sewing, painting, and any other 'creative' activity. In fact, one parent has taken his support to a whole new level - becoming a superfan!

Example of a superfan

The superfan is someone who is there for every game and every practice. The superfan is one who memorizes the stats, collects memorablilia, maybe even creates homemade hockey cards. They are often the one who can be heard in the stands when 'their' player makes a good play.

Is a superfan a good thing?

One theory is that since a superfan is devoted for life, the player always knows they will have undying support whether they win or lose. It can make them feel special...and loved.

The PUTP superfan can often be seen waving his #1 Fan Finger. Although the children appear to be embarrassed by the finger, deep down they know, when they look up and see the big yellow foam hand waving, that someone is out there rooting for them.

Monday, 19 October 2015



There has been a long standing tradition around the Place Under the Pine of respecting the democratic process, acting in a responsible manner when electing our leaders, and encouraging all to voice their opinions - in other words : FAMILY OUTING TO VOTE! (Possibly followed by ice cream).

This year the clan took advantage of the advanced polling

The thinking around the PUTP is that learning to vote is an important life lesson, one that takes time and effort to learn. Since elections do not happen all that often, when they do it is given special status. Political discussion happen around the dinner table. Pamphets and websites are read and discussed. General political science theories are essayed about. And most importantly, the entire family takes a trip to the polls and casts their votes.
The results of this educational strategy are striking - Lolli, for eg, has went from saying, 'where is the boat' (around age 2) to spouting out party names and their stances on environmental, aboriginal, and educational issues (age 9).

Random political quotes heard around the PUTP:
"...should help out those that need help"
"...98% of lakes are not protected! What will we drink?"
"...Who is the Green sign again?"
"...the marginal enjoyment of an extra dollar is far less for those with higher incomes which is why the UCB does not make sense..."

Thursday, 15 October 2015



As our Earth continues to rotate around the sun we feel the change - from warm summer nights to cold fall mornings. However, it is not only the weather that is changing, but, the activities around the Place Under the Pine are changing as well. As the autumn leaves float down from the trees they land in the front yard, not on soccer balls and baseball gloves, but on basketballs and hockey sticks. The sporting seasons have changed once more.


Just like jumping right into the deep end of a pool in the summer, taking the shock of the water in one quick dive, the citizens of the PUTP jumped right into the hockey season with a 7 am practise at Centre 70 (also known as the Deep Freeze due to its lack of heat). But, these hardy veterans have a hockey sock full of tricks to keep them warm - dress in layers, cover with a blanket, bring the biggest thermos we own and fill it with piping hot hot-chocolate.

Hats, mitts, snacks, and hot chocolate make watching practice fun.

The new hockey season is full of changes, from a new team to a new focus. Elli has moved up a level and is on a team with many new faces. His focus has also changed from learning the basics (and not falling) to honing his blossoming skills. He has taken a liking to the polarizing position (either loved by a player or loathed by a player) of goalie. As with all positions he has tried, Elli took to it like a fish in water and left his first 'game' with a shutout. And in true goalie fashion he gave all the credit to his defensemen (or in this case defensewoman).

He's been practising this move all summer.
Laser focus on the puck.


Heads up! This time of year the front yard of the PUTP is sometimes dangerous, with pine cones falling. Now, Thursday nights are just as dangerous with basketballs flying through the air. Most seem to make the graceful journey through a hoop and fall peacefully to the hardwood floor...but, some miss the backboard and fly into the crowd of parents watching their Lil' Gals play some hoops.
Trying a new sport is always a challenge, but, Lolli, with her tallness, her high level of energy, her quick feet, and her smarts is well on her way to becoming basketball star. 

As with all things Lolli is part of she manages to find a way to lead. As a rookie basketball player she is not the leader on the court, but, off court she certainly is. As often happens with Lolli, she found a way to bring fashion into her sport. Tying a jersey into a knot is now a trending fashion statement in the Pete Peterson Basketball league.

Tie your jersey to prevent it from getting in the way...and to be fashionable at the same time!