Monday, October 27, 2014



Good old convict Martha Stewart is at it again. 
Showing off with her easy and innovative crafts. The woman knows colours, organization and has an uncanny ability to create!
Her Skeleton Tee instructions are available at this link 

Vegan Bites: Pumpkin Cinnabon's


These were just plain delish.
I don't plan on making them again.

They were full of sugar and therefore flew off the plate.
Though extra yummy, I had to make two recipes (the one bowler promised by The Minimalist Baker) as well as the Pumpkin Butter, as featured on Oh She Glows (also delish, full of sugar and easily eaten straight from the mason jar, as requested by O!)

Nice seasonal recipe, using loads of pumpkin.
We subbed in our Ginger Cough Syrup instead of Maple Syrup (which is also eaten straight from the jar around here!)

Mummy Loves You

 Kinda Creepy!

The amazing Camilla at Family Chic features a Moveable Mummy project that is simple and (not so) scary!

 How to Gauze

We have long owned the wooden art mannequins, including the baby one I purchased in Shanghai. 
O insisted the Mummy carry the baby, which was just plain creepy!
Daddy scoured his camping safety kits for some gauze strips.

Using only two long strips, you can follow a pattern from the head to one leg (pictured above)...

..and the second strip from one arm, across to the next and down to the remaining leg.

Simple. Cheap. Chic.
Love it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Parenting Picks: Waste Reduction Week Landfill Tour

Wild Turkey's

A visit to the Waterloo landfill reminded me of illustrations from a Bill Peet book.
In honour of Waste Reduction Week, the region held free-to-the-public tours, where we learned what happens to our garbage post pick-up and ways we can contribute to improving the environment.
They hold Spring and Fall tours, as well as educational groups throughout the year.

Before our tour, we had the opportunity to visit the display room featuring a mini replica of the landfill and the layers involved to encourage decomposition. Not to mention, how they use underground piping to reduce the methane released from decomposition of waste!

We met 'London', the Harris Hawk whose job it is to scare away the seagulls.

Big Yellow Bus

O's transportation dream fulfilled again, as our driver Jose pulled up in the yellow school bus!

Nye Ludolph
"Father of the Blue Box"

Kitchener Ontario is home of the Blue Box.
The Father of the Blue Box and former resident of Kitchener, Mr. Nye Ludolph, introduced a pilot program involving 250 families and now the curbside recycling is a worldwide initiative to reduce landfill waste.

Baling Recyclables

Staff stayed on for our tour, so we could witness recycling in action. Giant bales of plastic and cartons are compacted and tied by machine in preparation for sales back into the market.

Future Toilet Paper


Landfill Site

Three hundred acres is owned by the region with 175 belonging to landfill, while the remaining was sanctioned in the 60's as an environmentally protected region; home to birds, coyotes, deer, fox and other local wildlife. They are preparing the new excavation site as the current one pictured above, will be capped off within the next year or two. It is then converted into recreational land for public use.

Our guide reminded us that the term, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is listed in order of importance;
1) reduce the amount of waste we use by being conscientious consumers and not purchasing wasteful items in the first place. Our guide used the example of plastic water bottles; though they are recyclable, they still require energy and materials in the breakdown process.
2) reuse the containers that you do purchase. She insisted that if you do purchase water bottles, they can be reused up the 19 times with tap water, which is both environmentally-friendly and cost effective.
3) recycle the containers for sale back into the market. Take the time to sort your garbage in order to use the programs in place.

Region of Waterloo encourage use of the following programs:
1) Rechargeable Battery Recycling. Drop off rechargeable batteries so they can get turned into new batteries and stainless steel products.

2) Paint Program. Pick up reuseable paint for free.

3) Goodwill Industry. Drop off used clothing at Waste Transfer Stations.

4) Wood Chips Pick Up. Quality garden mulch available for free pick-up.
5) Blended Bicycles Program. All bicycle parts are accepted. Repair and refurbishment taught to high school students and redistribution to families in need.

Vermacomposting. Did you know we toss out 1/3 of our food each year? Check out the benefits of Vermacomposting at The Kids Should See This

Sleeping Naked is Green. Canadian, Vanessa Farquharson wrote this book based on her one year journey of change. Her 365 changes are listed here .
Her site also hosts links to various other green bloggers. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gem & Mineral Show: University of Waterloo

University Museum

The University of Waterloo holds an annual Gem & Mineral Show, free to the public in the Natural Science Museum on campus.
If you know nothing about rocks, but are interested in 'Rock Nerd Culture', this is the place to be!


Petrified Wood

Amber Test

Along with various companies that sell gems, stones and fossils of all kinds, the museum hosts their regular exhibit featuring bones, teeth, petrified wood and more!
O & C were interested in the glimmering rocks for a while, but both of them stayed glued to the dinosaur exhibits!

Highgate Mastadon

"The 10,500 year old mastodon was discovered in  1886 close to the town of Highgate, Windsor Ontario." "There have been 111 finds of skeletal remains of mastodons and mammoths between Windsor and Belleville."

Duck-billed Dinosaur

Ice Age Cave Bear

Duck-billed footprint

Dino Teeth

Captorhinus Aguti

One of the earliest reptiles from the Permian age 229-251 million years ago!

Icthyosaurs: Fish Lizard

Hunters of the sea from the Triassic era 230 million years ago. This replica from a speciman in Germany and indicates remains of six embryo inside the mother. They bore live young and had no gills, so like the modern whale, had to surface for air.


The Gneiss Guy

I planned to purchase a few pieces for activities at home, namely Light Box activities and learning to use the microscope and magnifying glass. Most simple bits were under $10 and there were loads of tables that had samplings for $1 a piece. We were not out to buy diamonds, just learn more about various types of formations and where they originate.
My favourite and most expensive purchase ($5) was at The Gneiss Guy from Fergus Ontario. His collection is extensive and he features bits from all corners of the globe. 
I picked a piece of Calcite from Hunan, China.
O bought a 'Fossil Grab Bag' for $1 with three specimans and explanations of their origins.
She would have rather received some dino teeth!

T-Rex: Tyrant Lizard King

A replica of the King of the Lizards was in full view!
His massive head sans teeny brain! T-Rex remains are found in North America dating 65 million years ago. They were among the last of the dinosaurs to become extinct.

The Great Lakes

This ingenious fountain is a replica of the Great Lakes, to scale!!

Make your own!

Ambulance Tour

He's Here!

The much-anticipated emergency vehicle arrived at the park on Friday morning.
O is all about ambulances!
A friend and home schooling dad who happens to be a paramedic, was kind enough to treat us to a tour and the response was fantastic!
The Stair Chair

We were introduced to the Stair Chair, conveniently located in a small compartment at the side of the vehicle. It's a clever device used to bring into homes where transporting up/down stairs is necessary.


The gurney, go bag, heart monitor and defibulator were wheeled out of the back.
Our host even took a reading of an attendee's blood oxygen level and heart rate.

O made sure to be front and center when we were invited to tour inside the ambulance!

Nurse Catcher

Children were invited to take a front seat and use the siren!
They couldn't get in there fast enough!

An enormous thanks to Mr. R for a fantastic opportunity!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Parenting Pick: Loose Parts Play

 Loose Parts

A few months back, I came across a link for Spielgaben: The Worlds Best Educational Toy. 
Looking closely, it's a marvelous mix of wooden toys and for lack of a better phrase, 'odds & sods'.
When I showed my husband, he commented, "Oh basically a mixture of what we played with as kids."

Essentially, you can create your own collection of 'loose parts', which is a reoccurring activity mentioned in many of the blogs I read. (or spend the $449US on the real deal, which includes activity cards and the lovely wooden storage unit.)

In fact, children collect these 'loose parts' on a regular basis, in their Nature Collections. O's 'Nature Sill' turned 'Nature Box' sits by the back door and hosts a variety of objects that can be used for craft, nature lessons, art or imaginary play.
'An Every Day Story' (Reggio Emilio-inspired education) delves into the theory of loose parts as explained by architect, Sam Nicholson; tinkering tools that can be creatively arranged over and over again.

‘Creativity is for the gifted few: the rest of us are compelled to live in environments constructed by the gifted few, listen to the gifted few’s music, use gifted few’s inventions and art, and read the poems, fantasies and plays by the gifted few.’
‘This is what our education and culture conditions us to believe, and this is a culturally induced and perpetuated lie.’ (The Theory of Loose Parts: An important principle for design methodology, 1972)

Thankfully, Nicholson's theory suggests that we can all take part in creative activity, rather than be bystanders of others talent.