Wednesday, 28 January 2015



Pine Tree Press | Cooking

Cooking is an art. It takes years to master. That is why the Place Under the Pine likes to start 'em early and encourages the young folks to join in whenever there is some baking or cooking going on. This hands on experience builds cooking confidence, and in the case of Lolli, the confidence to take on the challenge of cooking perogies. And, not just any ol' perogies, but, Perfect Perogies. Let's see how she does...

Cooking With Olivia - Perfect Perogies - 2015 Episode 1

The feedback on Lolli's Perfect Perogies was all positive. Combined with the sour cream, right from the container, the entire batch was eaten up. This has encouraged Lolli to continue working on the fine art of cooking.

Stay tuned for more episodes of Cooking With Olivia, and the spin off show Bringing The Heat With Elliott.

Monday, 19 January 2015



Pine Tree Press | Secret Page

There have been suspicious activities going on around the PUTP over the past few months. There have been secret meetings, code words, complex knocking patterns on doors, papers intricately folded up and put into pockets, and also the building of a secret-spy-for (just out of eyesight when the Parents looks out the front door).

Things became stranger just before Christmas when a mystery package, labelled TOP SECRET, with no return address was found under the Christmas tree!

The TOP SECRET mystery package

With strong reservations the package was allowed to be opened. The contents were shocking...

"Authorized eyes only"

Suspicious paraphernalia
"Micro Spy Kit Delta" & Walkie-talkies!
The package contained:
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Mini spy sized notepads
  • Fingerprint kit
  • Invisible ink
  • Date stamp
  • Top Secret labels
  • Micro Spy Kit Delta - night vision telescope, hear-through-wall device, motion detecting alarm
  • Walkie-talkies

It appears there can only be one reasonable explanation - the children of the PUTPs are undercover double agent spies!? That would provide an explanation to the strange behaviour and the mysterious package.
This just goes to show that you may not really know anyone - including your kids! If it can happen here it can happen anywhere. 

Be vigilant people or your kids could be a dark cape wearing spy...

In the PUTP spies wear garbage bags and hockey gloves

Kingston | 4:35

Monday, 12 January 2015



Pine Tree Post | Craft / DIY

The letters that left the Place Under the Pine this year addressed to Santa were, as usual, short and sweet. However, Elli's was especially small with only one request - a boy doll with clothes. (Translation: An American Girl style 18 inch doll. Boy. Light Hair. Possibly wearing a retro Edmonton Oilers Hockey jersey with number 99 on the back).
Unfortunately, American Girl, Our Generation, Journey Girl...all of the poplular brands of 18 inch dolls do not have a boy version. And, even Santa does not stock a boy doll like this.

So, what do you do if your kid wants a boy doll?

You get the scissors out and use your creative juices to whip up a replacement.

Black Friday, the Parents of the PUTP were seen hitting the Target in Watertown (USA) in search of a doll that either looked like Elli or looked 'boyish'. Shannon, an Our Generations doll, that has a face resembling Elli's and came in a camping set (which meant it was not dressed in a gown and adorned with high heeled shoes and jewellery) hit the spot. She came in cargo type pants and had some camping equipment too.
The Parents were also seen going through the big bins of other doll outfits, pulling up things like a bowling set and any others that came with unisex clothing.

"Shannon" - pre-transformation

A few nights later Jen was seen with the hair cutting kit. This is not an uncommon sight as she cuts the hair of every other citizen in the PUTP. The peculiar thing was her 'client' - a long haired 18'' doll!

After much cutting, recutting, then cutting again, "Shannon" had a new hairdo. Paired with a sporty jacket and some blue runners she passed for a little boy - luckily these dolls are not anatomically correct :)

The surfer boy look
The doll was then placed back in the package, wrapped, and put under the Christmas tree. Another overachieving present by the PUTP's best parents!

He looks like a camper to me!

"Shannon" has been well played with since the unwrapping on Christmas day. The doll has been renamed "Ben" and has been towed along on many adventures - to the arena, to the grandparent's. A visitor to the PUTP may hear the name Ben so often they may believe there is another child living there.
Ben has also been well supplied with homemade clothes, store bought clothes, skates, furniture...almost anything a doll could need.

Elli feeds Ben a snack

A pantless Ben walks up the stairs

One parent from the PUTP found it odd that finding a boy version of the extremely popular 18 inch dolls was so hard. He was inspired to write an open letter to the manufacturers of these dolls.

Dear Doll Makers,

This year for Christmas my little guy asked for a doll, such as the ones you make. However, he requested a doll that was a boy. I was disappointed to find out that no such doll exists. I find this unacceptable on many levels and am left wondering why on earth would you not make a boy version?
I am going to be presumptuous and guess that you will answer - we do not make boy dolls because the market for such a doll is not there.
I know we are not the only family in search of a boy doll. This segment of the market may not be near as big as the girl, but, it is there. And, as a niche type market you may be able to produce a smaller number of boy dolls and offset the loss in producing this limited amount by charging more and not selling them in the same manner, but instead, for eg making them available online only. I am certain you could find an alternative.
I do not usually get worked up about age old debates but this has gotten me all riled up. This whole situation only emphasizes the continuing gentrification of toys, ie Dolls are pink and only for girls, Superheros are blue and only for boys. It may be social pressure, but, it is also a toy manufacturing phenomenon. In the end it is you, the toy makers, who end up picking what gets made.
Where does the idea of being a good corporate citizen fit in here?
Play is a chance for kids to explore their world. Children can use toys to play out and practice scenarios they may encounter in life. Is it a good idea to exclude boys from the world of dolls? How are boys supposed to practice being a parent? Carting their doll around, thinking about how they would take care of another person, is a skill everyone should know. It not only makes society a better place, but, fulfills the idea of manhood too (the ability to provide and take care of one's family). Dolls are for boys too! In my mind, not making a boy doll is somehow unethical, it is not being a good corporate citizen, it is bad for society as a whole. We need to change the attitude towards 'boy' toys and 'girl' toys and I think some of the responsibility lies with you.


The PUTP's best Dad

Tuesday, 6 January 2015



A heartfelt thanks to all the readers out there who make my stats spike and share this special place in our lives...our little online place.

I made a video showing highlights of the year.

If you are having trouble, here is link right to the youtube site - click here - it is seven minutes long, so settle in.

In case you are interested in those stat that tingle my hear - last year there were about 4,000 pageviews (I heard that! Most of them were not me!).

The most popular posts:

1) The Fairy House
2) Apple Picking
3) Hockey Card Craft

Thanks again for visiting. Looking forward to sharing more of our life in 2015!


Saturday, 3 January 2015



Pine Tree Post | Food Page

The following scene repeats itself weekly - the kitchen floor is strewn with those reusable grocery bags, all filled with cans, fruit, bread, and sometimes pastries. The kitchen counter beside the fridge is overcrowded with dairy products, sometimes toppling over onto the stovetop. Oskie is toddling around playing with the three food long receipt from the No-Frills, while Lolli steps around him, diligently bringing in the 'Costco run' from the Van. Jen is sitting in front of the fridge sorting and organizing the contents, solving the never ending puzzle of how-do-you-fit-so-many-groceries-in-there.
Yet, in little more than a week this overstocked refrigerator will be bare except for condiments and a few tupperware containers half filled with leftovers (most of which head to the greenbin soon after). Where does all this food go? I can account for some of it in the pictures below. The rest, mysteriously disappears bit by bit each time the kids say, "I'm hungry".

Food is prepared, eaten, prepared, endless cycle.

The weeks heading up to Christmas were an especially busy time in the PUTP. With many events, shopping, and even carolling, the time available for cooking was very limited. You may notice a few questionable food choices...but, doesn't everyone have those days right before Christmas?

Breakfast - The most important meal of the day.
No content. Not the best start to the day, or this blog post.

Lunch - A mix of school lunches and home lunches.

Pizza quesadilla - Thanks for the idea Natasha
Typical Matt lunch
A fried egg sandwich on an english muffin (with ketchup). This 'sandwich' was found in the kid's lunch on a few occasions too. More in Lolli's lunchbox than E's.
The above picture shows Matt having a very sophisticated looking lunch at his desk at work. Notice the french press coffee (a blend called Folger's) and the chocolate (an Xmas present from his boss).

What kid wouldn't love soybeans in their snack? Paired with some colourful berries and a homemade muffin. Tradesies anyone?

Deli meat sandwich and dark blue fruits
This lunch seemed to have a blue theme, with the berries and plum. Combine that with avocado (small container on right) and a deli meat sandwich (Salami on right, Turkey on left) and voila! you have a hit with the foodie kids of kindergarten.

Two identical lunches
The sight of two identical lunches is becoming a rare sight. However, pasta, apple sauce, muffins, grapes are loved by one and all.

The addition of couscous
Mmm couscous
Couscous 'salad', mixed with lentils, olives, and peppers is something different you can add to the lunch menu chart. This dish is not loved by all, but, is a welcome change from day after day of sandwiches or wraps.

The "Friday" lunch
Ahh, the Friday lunch. The lunch you are not particularly proud of. When groceries are low, and you scramble to fill the small container with cheese and cracker and only find saltines. When you make a 10:55 pm trip to the grocery store Thursday night and buy prepackaged deli meat and the last of the day old buns. You may even pair similar looking fruit together such as pears and apples. Luckily, most of this will be eaten.

Friday can be cheap eat day!
Sometimes even Matt has a Friday lunch - a nice mug full of 'Mr. Noodles' embarrassing. On the plus side this dish only costs approx 33 cents!

Leftover lunch
Luckily, Matt usually has the leftover lunch to deal with. In some cases it is Boston Pizza, homemade bran muffins (his fav), and some fruit...sometimes it is not.

Tuna melts, fruit, and cookies
Yummers, look at that Tuna melt.
Home lunches were more on the hot side this month as the weather cooled down. Warm sandwiches and soups were seen regularly on the table.

Habitant soup, apples, and tea...that'll warm you on a frigid day
Salad pic, with a salami sandwich creepin' in the background
There was, of course, a salad or two. Blue cheese dressing was given out in generous portions.

Dinner - The 'big' Meal!

*drool* White pasta...White bread *drool*
Pasta is a quick thing to prepare on those busy days. And, even though the citizens of the PUTP know that whole wheat pasta is so much healthier than white, sometimes they pick taste over health. Good for them!

VH sauce is the secret
Pork roast with Medium garlic VH sauce is a regular meal in the PUTP. Paired with easy to heat vegetables like frozen corn it is a tasty meal.

Looks much healthier with that salad eh?
Caught on camera was not one, but, TWO, Delissio pizzas being pulled from the oven. This is a sight not seen in over two years! When will we see it again?

Meatballs, pineapple, tomato sauce = Swedish meatballs
Not only available at IKEA, swedish meatballs are a crock pot speciality of the PUTP. Sweet, hot, and filling they are a great end to a cold day of christmas shopping.

Classic Turkey Dinner
Even before Christmas a turkey was cooked up. This meal, and all the leftovers, feed the PUTP for days. A very cost conscious meal as well when the turkey is bought on super sale.

Baked pasta and garlic bread
A great looking meal was not loved by all the citizens of the PUTP. The baguette covered in butter and garlic powder was eaten without complaint. However, the ravioli in alfredo sauce caused one little guy to leave the table and storm upstairs in a fit of rage. It's strange how food can sometimes bring out such emotion in people.

Lolli goes Vegetarian.
During the month of December, Lolli decided she did not want to eat meat anymore. The head cook decided to embrace this idea and made many dishes with no meat, or with meat substitutes. Good vegetarian meals are always in high demand, so what better time to find some?

Doesn't that look like meat?!
A nice hearty, even meaty looking, chili was cooked up to rave reviews.

One meat substitute
TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein was the meat substitute added to the chili to give it that meaty look and feel. 

Yum, pad thai stir fry
Tofu is a meat substitute with a bad rep.
Stir fry with tofu is a well known vegetarian dish. Switch out the chicken for the tofu. 

Or, you can just add the chicken back into another dish...for the non vegetarians.

Smokin' Stampede Chicken Wings!
President's Choice Smokin' Stampede chicken wings are the wing of choice in the PUTP. Blue cheese dressing and veggies on the side make a great late night snack for the adults.

As a side update: Lolli has returned to the dark side and is eating meat again.

Baking - The part you have all been waiting for.

Brownies with TEA...a surprisingly good combo.
Cookie or muffin?
So hearty it eats like a meal.
Dog kibble - made of chocolate and chex cereal
Haystack that lacked the stack
These blueberry muffins are not dead, it was just the lighting

Plain Bran - not Raisin Bran
Carrot cake in muffin form - is that even possible?

Hope you all had a merry Christmas

Friday, 2 January 2015



Pine Tree Post | Sport Page

On a cold Saturday morning the Dark Blue Team took on the Dark Green Team in an actual game - with referees, line changes, and everything.

The following video shows some of the highlights of the game

With freshly sharpened skates, new tape, and a bottle of coffee, this little hockey player was ready to play! Right from the drop of the puck the action was intense. Lots of ooh and aahs from the crowd. Lots of falling players. Lots of hard skating. At around the three minute mark of the first, E skated hard down the ice and managed to put one past the goalie. The first goal of the game brought a thundering cheer from the packed stands. Humbly he high fived his teammates and headed back to face off circle.
The rest of the game was a barn burner, with the puck making its way from one end of the rink to the other with surprising speed. There were countless breakaways and two on nones as both teams were apparently going with the full offence strategy - the defence was a second thought.
Luckily, for the Dark Blue team they had an outstanding goalie with years of experience (in the form of two older brothers) to fall back on. He managed to shut the door on every shot.
In the end the score was 6 - 0 for the Dark Blue Team, but, the chances and the effort put in by both teams was awe inspiring.
I cannot wait to report on the next game.

Kingston | 12:00