Tuesday, 14 August 2018



Spelling takes time and repetition - things that can be really boring for some kids. You can add some interest using hockey words.

For kindergarten kiddies you can label equipment and leave out the first letter. They can sound it out and fill it in. Easy, fun, and full of learning.
Primary learners can have more of a challenge (and some fun) unscrambling the words. I've added some hardcore hockey slang in a quiz section at the bottom.

Answers to the quiz above:

Another example of a hockey themed word scramble. This one is tough. 
Answers to the word scramble
1) hockey
2) skate
3) hat trick
4) puck
5) slapshot
6) power play
7) penalty
8) stick
9) boards
10) body check
11) defense
12) forward
13) helmet
14) offside
15) goal
16) assist
17) referee
18) bench
19) water bottle
20) jersey
21) Wayne Gretzky
22) goalie
23) iceing
24) breakaway


Wednesday, 8 August 2018


In the 30's you needed a permit to buy booze!

Way back in the 1930s you could not go out to the corner store and buy a bottle of something [insert poison of choice], no, no, it was very regulated. There was no push by the province's Premier to make beer cheap (FORD and his buck a beer!). No it was a different time when alcohol was the devils juice. Prohibition was on in the States and up here in Canada we were almost as strict. There were many 'dry' places out there.
What I found out was that during this era you had to have a permit to buy liquor. Apparently, it was $2 to buy it and you had to show it everytime you bought booze. You took it with you to the liquor store and they would sign, date, and write what you bought. It sounds like you even had to have it when you bought a beer at a hotel bar. It was a method of tracking drinking habits, and allowed store employees or even police to see how much a person has been drinking and put a stop to it!

I ran across an old liquor permit by chance. I bought a book from a yard sale - A James Bond book, DR. NO (the inspiration for Austin Powers' Dr. Evil) - and this permit was in the book being used as a book mark. 

 The cover feels like a passport - like hard fabric. It was made to last, and it has.
The first page has some interesting personal information. Apparently, the permit was owned by a local resident, Michael McCormick, who was a chauffeur with the City Coach Company.

He did not buy a lot of liquor.
But, very interesting to see how things have changed. The perception of alcohol and the methods used to help alcoholics are vastly different. 

Monday, 6 August 2018



Do you have hockey obsessed kids? We do. So, I took advantage of that interest in all things hockey and made up some 'fun' problems for the kids to do over the summer break. 

Geography - our middle guy was kind of lost when it came to geography. It was 'boring' to him. But, take a map with NHL logos on it and all of the sudden there is some interest. 

One way to learn the provinces of Canada is by hockey team right?

Math - Math can get tedious, with all the repetition and questions that have no relevance to real-life. Sports can change that! Hockey is full of math; be it stats, probability, jersey numbers...here is a chance to make questions 'fun' and give them life. 

I tried to add some connection to the questions by creating a story - you've been called up to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs! How far do you travel to play the Winnipeg Jets...and the story (and math questions) continue from there.

 My true goal here was to work on geography, so I keep making them refer back to the map...and the math practice is just a bonus.
 I made sure to include a few of the children's fav players to keep their interest peaked. And, a small art break (get creative with jersey design!)
 I have a soft spot for local heros - my fav player when I was growing up was Doug Gilmour. He's from our town, so I tried to make that connection with the kids. It was a great way to drill down to a more local level in the Geography dept.
 Hockey as a theme makes is so easy to incorporate everything from probability, percentages, logic...to FRENCH! Oui! Ils jouent de hockey au Queb├ęc! So, when you travel to Montreal to play a game get ready to work on some french words.
 Calculating time is easy to work in too - you've calculated how far you need to travel, now, how long will it take to get there? 
 Expanding the map and introducing a few familiar places in the USA is not hard - there are teams in Florida and California. Places they've heard of or been too - Tampa Bay is not far from Disney :) 
 Then just let the creativity fly, like the puck does when the D-man takes a one-T from the blueline...

Monday, 30 July 2018



Welcome to the back deck
A small wooden platform was built earlier this month in the backyard of the Place Under The Pine. It was constructed of wood (the species is unknown) and screws (the deck variety). With all hands on deck the platform was constructed in only a few hours. Big hands set the foundation, while little hands worked the drills and screwed in hundreds of deck screws. That was stage one of the project.

A mandate for the deck was to include seating, so naturally the next thing to do was to procure some furniture. The Place Under The Pine did have numerous metal patio chairs that only required a fresh coat of paint and cushions. A fresh and lively turquoise colour was chosen for the chairs and the loveseat. While a contrasting grapefruit / coral paint was chosen for accessories such as side tables and plant stands. Cushions were recovered by Grammy in a great fabric that added some bright colour and interest to the chairs. An inexpensive outdoor carpet, with a fantastic grey and white chevron pattern, was laid down to help define the space. Lastly, the barbeque was placed in the corner on an angle for ease of use and to soften the far corner. A couple of matching plant stands (with dragon lilys) flank the BBQ to finish the space.

With comfortable seating and a cheery colour the citizens of the PUTP will want to spend hours of quality time in the backyard. 

With the deck installed, stepping out of the patio door is now a pleasant experience. The wood is a few inches higher than the ground and makes that first step out almost level. Pre deck there was quite a drop down to an unlevel cement step. Psychologically these couple of inches made the mind feel like one was dropping out of the house into a hard, almost harsh, world. With the first step raised up, the transition from indoors to outdoors is smoother and softer. The notion that the back deck is like 'another room' rings true. Extra living space, check!

Repurposing 'junk' to enhance a side table
This project also gave the citizens of the PUTP a chance to practice some eco-friendly renovation tactics. The small side table in the picture above was found on the side of the road. It was headed for the landfill. The stand was in perfect working conditions, the only problem with it was the outer coating (a thick plastic) was flaking off. With a quart of elbow grease Jen managed to scrap, chip, and sand the coating off. The white circle is a piece of metal the children found 'treasure hunting' one day. It too was headed for the recycling plant until it was discovered that it fit in the stand and provided a base for holding drinks and such. All that was required to finish off this beauty was a coat of spray paint. Being creative and using 'junk' gives the citizens of the PUTP a feeling of satisfaction on so many levels.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018



The number of indoor plants found in the Place Under The Pine has always been pitifully low. From the years 2009 to 2017 there was only one solitary christmas cactus (a gift from the minister who performed Jen and Matt's wedding ceremony). Recently, that number has increased to almost double digits.
One citizen has taken an interest in plants. Cactus, spider plants, aloe vera...the classic indoor house plants are beginning to take root in Olivia's room. They are taking root in unconventional ways; teapots, teacups, and jars are replacing traditional flowerpots. But, what would one expect from such a creative mind?

Teacup spider plant

Flower pot spider plant

cup and pot planters

Saturday, 12 May 2018



Our oldest turned 12 (already!) and requested a cactus themed birthday party. Jen came up with some great ideas, found some awesome cactus decor, and hand made a few items.

Cactus hugs leave a mark
Apparently, cactus and holographic go together like peas and carrots. Therefore, cactus shaped holographic cupcake toppers are a go:

Holographic paper in cactus shapes - a hit!
And old pot, some pebbles, and a sink-scrubbing-sponge cut into the shape of a cactus make an ideal centrepiece for the party's table.

Cactus - scrubbing sponge style

Michael's is on trend with cactus shaped cups. Fill with 'catus juice' (aka lemonade) and thrill the tastebuds of your party goers.

Cactus shaped cups
If you have some skills in the baking department then sugar cookies - cactus shaped of course - are the way to go. Green icing and some spikes to top them off. Watch your tongue!

Cactus cookies with spikes!
Loot bags are easy with this theme, and can potentially last a lifetime. Real cacti are inexpensive and they really wow guests. It's like giving a pet - a totally unexpected surprise!

Give plants. The gift that keeps growing.

The party took place at the darkly named Boiler Room. No, there was no boiling going on, but, there was some hardcore rock climbing.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018



Last weekend was the first really warm and sunny weekend of the spring. We were drawn outside by the weather (at least on the Sunday...Saturday we were in an arena watching Elli play hockey). We did our traditional cleaning up of the yard and the garden. It is amazing how much garbage and random bits & bobs get buried in the snow over the winter!
The exciting part of all this clean up was the green. Yes, the green! Green leaves shooting from the ground, from the raspberry canes, from the trees...

Here come the raspberry leaves again!

The parsnips we left in the ground over the winter are still alive and growing!

This day had me thinking about last year's garden. I had a few pictures uploaded onto the blog, but, never really got around to posting them. Last year we tried a few new plants, had success with some old favourites, and completely forgot about digging up the parsnips!

The maple tree - transplanted from garden two years ago


First time we did corn, and it grew taller than Elliott!

Can never get enough raspberries around here

A few zucchini grew

The corn was fun to watch grow

Peas, the plant that never made it into the house - eaten by roving children

Too many cherry tomatoes!

A new member of the garden community - the Blueberry bush

Raspberries with a side of green bean