It’s Not All Mary Poppins

My favourite season

Fall. I love the quality of the light. I love the colours on the trees. I love the crunchy drifts of leaves on the ground.

I love sweaters. I love weather cool enough to require sweaters… but nothing heavier. Perfect! I love the honking of the geese as the rise off the river. I love the rich, earthy smell of damp soil.

And I love my puppy. (Totally gratuitous, I know, but ISN’T SHE CUTE??)

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Canada, outings | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fall Craft: Seed Coasters

It’s fall! All sorts of fun things happen in the fall: the leaves change colour and fall off the trees so we can jump in them; the squirrels run around like mad, and yet somehow get fat; we start wearing jackets and sweaters, and stop wearing shorts; and there are seeds, seeds and berries everywhere.

Why not USE some of those seeds?

Well, mostly because gathering seeds in a city is a little difficult. We’ve found lots of dandelion seeds and maple keys, and we’ve seen lots of berries in gardens, but as for gathering buckets full of seeds — or even fistfuls — that’s a little harder. So: off to Bulk Barn we go!!!

And come back with a decent assortment. We have beans, lentils, barley, rice and peppercorns. (Peppercorns are second from the right. Are peppercorns seeds?) I got them because I wanted the colour.

Not that boring white, though. I wanted red! I was inspired by the red peppercorns at Bulk Barn, but I was not inspired by the $7.40/100g price. Yeesh. But really, if you want red peppercorns, that’s not so very hard to achieve. You buy the cheap white ones, drop in a few drops of food colouring, stir…

and ta-dah! Red peppercorns! Easy-peasy. And cheap. My favourite.

Skipped a couple of steps here. Make yourself a batch of salt dough. (There are recipes on the internet EVERYWHERE.) Roll it out a cm thick on a piece of waxed paper. Cut it with a large cookie cutter.

It’s thick, but not even. I knew I’d have to be rolling them flat after the children were done, so I wasn’t too fussy. After I was done, I realized that it wouldn’t have hurt to be a little more fussy at this stage… Live and learn.


Place the seeds of your choice in the arrangement of your choice, pressing them gently — gently! gently! — into the dough, being very careful NOT to grind them into the table and TOTALLY BURY THEM. Not. NOT! Oops.

(This part was trickier than you might think…)

Nearly done! After they’d put in the seeds, I rolled them lightly to smooth out the surface. These are supposed to be coasters, after all.

After making a couple, I discovered that you got better shapes if you left the cookie cutter in place, and removed it after they were done placing the seeds.

Bake them at 200F for… a loooooong time. They’re pretty thick! I think ours were in there for a good ten hours all told. You might consider leaving them in overnight. Don’t raise the temperature: it makes the dough go brown.

When they’ve cooled, give them several coats of an acrylic spray on all sides.

I wouldn’t trust my fine stemware on them, but they work just fine with sippy cups and bottles!!

September 19, 2011 Posted by | crafts | , , , , | 3 Comments

On your marks…


September! For those of us in Canada, THIS is the New Year. For some odd reason, we delay celebrating it until January 1, smack dab in the worst throes of the bleak mid-winter, weirdest damned thing I can think of, but everyone knows that the Tuesday after Labour Day is the beginning of the real new year.

The seasons are changing. It’s definitely early fall around here. A few rogue leaves lay about on the ground. The rest will follow in a while. It’s dark when I wake in the mornings, and dark again when I go to bed. The air is fresh, and though we’ve had a rainy couple of days recently, when the sun shines, it has that gorgeous autumn glow. Lovely.

And the kids? They are Back to School. My eldest has been out of school from some years now, of course, but my younger two are starting today! And, for the first time in their educational history, they will be attending the same school! Yup. Both of them start classes at the University of Ottawa today, Emma in nursing, and Adam in bio-pharmacology. (Aren’t you impressed? I sure as heck am. At the end of the day, I will have produced an anthropologist, a nurse, and a … um… something impressively medical…)

That’s exciting!

And me? Back to work today. Before my time off, I was starting to drag a bit. I was tired too often, physically, mentally, mostly trudging through my days. This morning? I am psyched and ready! The theme for the month is fall (but of course!), and I have my plans. Oh, do I have plans! Plans for outings, plans for crafts fancy and simple, plans for indoor activities and out. We’ll be doing a tree for our wall as we do most years (only this time I have ideas involving fingerpaint paper and printing for that trunk), making leaf belts, leaf prints, seed coasters, and applesauce. I have compiled my first sensory bin. (Even if the kids don’t enjoy it, I had fun assembling it! In fact, given how tactile I am, if they’re rotten, maybe I just won’t share… neener, neener…) I have the menu for the week posted. We’ll be heading to the library for fun fall-theme books.

It will be one lovely, creative, happy, heady round of fun, fun, fun!!!!

I am READY! TO! GO!

(Here’s hoping it lasts more than a week…)

September 6, 2011 Posted by | crafts, my kids | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mary’s Little Helper

Ottawa has an organic collection program — aka the compost collection, or The Green Bin. Here is our Green Bin, being filled with fall leaves.

One

Leaf

At

A

Time.

She kept this up for a solid 25 minutes. She’s not fast, but she’s got FOCUS.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Lily, Ottawa, socializing | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Why I love my job, reason #563,143,654

Anna makes her leaf belt. Don’t you just want to squeeze her all to goodness?

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Anna, crafts, outings | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Autumn Craft

Two weeks ago there was the occasional leaf fluttering to the grass. A week ago, there were small scuffs of leaves edged up against the curb. Now there are increasing drifts of the things, and no walk is complete without a lovely crackling shuffle through the piles, and a great wadge of scarlet, orange, yellow, and brown crammed into every nook and niche in the stroller.

It seems a shame to leave such beauty lying about in the stroller, crumbling to leaf dust. (Or ingested by Baby Noah. Can’t convince them that the seat behind Noah’s butt is not a good leaf niche.

“Hey! Baby Noah is eating my leabes!”
“We’ve talked about this, lovie. Don’t put them where he can reach them. He’s a baby. He eats things.”
“But he’s eating my LEABES!!”
“Mm-hmm. So he is.”)

Today Mary decided we should put our leafy largesse to good use. The blue sheets are the last two of a package I bought from Grand and Toy a year or two ago (ON SALE!!): puffy white clouds on a pale blue sky. A couple sheets of brown construction paper become the tree skeleton. Green grass completes my part of the project.

Dot liberally with glue, and let the tots at it!

It helps to have friends who share.

And… ta-dah! Trees!

Only 3,574,083,094 leaves left to go.

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Canada, crafts | , , , , , , | 9 Comments