Monthly Archives: May 2012

Waterfall booklets…


I have used this idea a few times over the years. I have had the kids in my class make their own, I have provided these as reference sheets for students (i made the Peek Sheets booklet in the picture as a reference for students to use with prompts and definitions) I have used them as student workbooks (the poetry booklet in the picture) and I have used them for art projects too.

They are so easy to make! I have found they work best with 3-5 sheets of paper. I like using different colours of paper…especially rainbow colours! The example I will show you is using 5 sheets.

Stack them on top of each other, and stagger them lengthwise like in the picture…

Then, fold all of the sheets over…

Be sure to leave an even gap between the middle two sheets, they will be the same colour. Press the paper to make a sharp fold…

Finally,staple the booklet. If you have one of those long armed staplers, you could staple on the fold, like this…

But, if you don’t have a long armed stapler, you can just staple like this…

That’s it…a waterfall booklet…simple idea with lots of potential!!



Gardening in the crack!


We have been having a few issues with the retaining walls around our property. All of the walls are the wooden railway ties, and are also quite a few years old. There are places in the wood that it is so decayed that you can literally dig your finger in and scoop it out. There are also other parts where the wall is leaning. We know we need to rip everything out soon, but are trying to hold everything together for a year or two. So this spot beside out pool deck is one of the only places in our backyard that is in full sun for most of the day, so why not use it to plant! The side of our pool deck has has a gap that keeps getting a little bigger every year. I put bricks along the gap so the kids wouldn’t accidentally hurt themselves and fall in…

But by this spring, the gap had widened enough that all of the bricks have fallen in…

In this photo, you can see the gap better…

So what I did was buy some siding at home depot for about 6 dollars for a 12 foot section. I put it beside the wood, to stop the soil from directly touching the wood, and I put it beside the pool deck, to stop the soil from eroding, and edged it with a row of bricks.

Then I filled it with soil…

I planted a few seedlings, as well as a few flowers for colour. It has been about a week, here is what it looks like… I will have to post again in about a month to let you see how it worked out…


I planted sunflowers, cherry and regular tomato, snow peas, beans and I am going to plant carrots, once my seeds grow enough to transplant.
Once again, I have to mention that this wouldn’t be the smartest idea if you were looking to preserve or repair your retaining wall. Putting soil beside wood is only going to speed up the decaying…This is just a temporary fix to fill in a dangerous gap, until we get it fixed in the next year or so… I am thinking that we need to add some built in planters here when we rebuild… And some seating too…I can’t wait to tell john!

Snail racing!


We had snail races last summer with our neighbors and the kids had so much fun with it, we decided to do it again!
Where we live, every time I dig around in the garden, I find at least a couple snails. So while I was gardening today, I collected a few for the kids…

Here is a closer shot of what they look like…

We dug out a few different colours of nail polish and put a dab of colour on each one. Then we picked our favourites to win!
The race track is simply a paper plate turned upside down with a starting circle in the center, and a finish line around the edge. The rules are simple, put the snails in the starting circle, and the first snail to cross the finish line wins!


As you can see, it was a close race, but, “Baby Red” won the first race and, “Blue” won the second and “Greeny” won the third…

Purple aka. slowpoke got off to a slow start, but once he got started, there was no stopping him!
It was really funny because a couple weeks ago, the kids actually found a snail with nail polish on its back from last year! I think I will send them around in a few days to see if we can find any of the snails! That should keep them busy for a little bit, right?

When life gives you rotten apples, make strudel!


If you have been reading my blog, you know that it was Dylan’s birthday last week, and we had the family over to celebrate. Tomorrow is his birthday party with his friends from school.
Anyways, in my rush to clean up for company coming over last week, I shoved a bag of apples in the bread drawer, just so it wouldn’t take up counter space… And to make a long story short… I just found the bag this morning. Btw… John thinks I should change the title of this post to, “When WIFE gives you rotten apples, make strudel” lol. Anyways, I had to toss a couple apples, and the rest were very ripe. So, I cut them up, and peeled them. I had a package of phyllo in the freezer, so I pulled it out to thaw.
To make strudel, you need a filling, such as apples, bread crumbs, sugar, and butter.

Making strudel is pretty easy because you can buy the phyllo dough at just about any grocery store. You just have to remember to give it enough time to thaw.
For the apple filling, I like to add some oats to soak up some of the apple juice that comes out while cooking. In a bowl, I mixed the apple pieces (probably from 10 apples), with about a cup of the oats, 1/2 cup of brown sugar (or sucanat if you are avoiding sugar), a tablespoon of flour and a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Then, put that aside to prepare the dough. Melt a few tablespoons of butter in the microwave first, then begin by spreading out a full sheet of the dough on a flat surface.

The trick to making the crust flaky and crumbly is the butter and bread crumbs. Between each layer of the phyllo dough, use a pastry brush to paint it with melted butter, then generously sprinkle the entire sheet with bread crumbs, then sugar. Put the next layer on top and repeat. I find that 5 layers works well for a strudel.

The first time I made strudel, I didn’t put the breadcrumbs between the layers and the dough never cooked because it was so thick. The breadcrumbs help keep the layers apart, so they all cook and get crunchy.
Anyways, once I had done 5 layers, I spooned out my apple mixture onto the dough…
the layers

Then, rolled it up so the ends were tucked under…

To make it brown, and shiny when cooked, i always brush an egg whit onto the top, and sprinkle with sugar. Because the strudel is so flaky, I have found that cutting the top before cooking also makes it much easier to slice when it is cooked.

It takes about 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees to turn a golden brown… Yummy!

Note, these will freeze well, but when thawed, the crust will be soft, you need to stick them back in the oven for abut 10 minutes to crunch them up.

Cold oatmeal to go


I feel like I start every post by saying,”I saw this online…” but, that is where I get my inspiration…and why lie, right?
So, I saw this recipe online, on pinterest actually, it was a recipe for refrigerator oatmeal using Greek yogurt, steel cut oats, and chia seeds. I don’t have any greek yogurt, couldn’t find any steel cut oats, and have no idea what chia seeds are, so I dug around in my fridge and found some instant oats, yogurt, dried cranberries, and a peach…

So I mixed them all together in a mason jar… I didn’t really measure, but about 1/4 milk, 1/4 yogurt, 1/4 fruit, and 1/4 oats. It was a little watery or runny because of the milk.

Then, I screwed the lids on and stuck them in the fridge overnight…By the morning, the oats had soaked up all of the milk, and it became nice and thick.

They actually tasted really good! I had never even thought of eating cold oatmeal before, but with the weather getting hotter, and hotter, eating hot oatmeal just isn’t appealing.
I also love using the mason jars… They are a perfect size, safe, and easy to clean. I have brought them to work the past few days, and have used them as a mid morning snack. The oatmeal makes them really filling. Also, the kids picked a topping and kind of yogurt they like and made their own flavours.



Spooning in the garden!


I couldn’t believe my luck last when we went to a garage sale and found a pile of old, tarnished silver cutleryI picked out all of the spoons and a few forks. The best part is paid two dollars for all of it!
I have seen spoons and forks in the garden and have been dying to make them ever since I ordered a set of metal stamps on line, but the problem is that i have tried, and the stamps don’t really work on the hard stainless steel of regular cutlery, or even on cheap cutlery, so you have to use silver, or silver plated, but I didn’t have any…until now! I know, I know, what kind of person gets excited about finding old tarnished spoons at a garage sale? The guy selling them to me thought I was crazy (and so did John when I got home…lol)
When it comes to my garden, I will be the first to admit that I do not have a green thumb, so I figure that whatever features I add like painted rocks, figurines, and plant markers, will take the focus off of the actual plants! Right? The more colorful and interesting stuff I add, the less people look at the actual plants…
Anyways, here are my treasures…

I started by trying to hammer the spoons flat. I found that using a wooden board underneath created the least amount of scratches.

I hammered a few flat…

My plan was to hammer the names of plants into the spoons, but when I got my stamps next to my spoons,I realized that my stamps were way too big to fit more than a four or five letter word on each spoon. So my plan of stamping zucchini, and cucumber, or even tomato were not going to work. So, I decided to put short simple words like, love, hope, be happy etc.

When I started to try to hammer the stamps, I realized that this hammering needed to be done on a harder surface, so I put the spoons on top of brick to hammer.
I hammered in the letters…

Then used a black sharpie to trace over each letter…

And then used a damp Kleenex to wipe off the sharpie, leaving the black ink in the cracks…

Then tried to find a place in the garden to put them…they look cut in the middle of some ground cover…

But, they are also cute to fill in space where there aren’t plants growing!

I still have a pile of knives… They might even be long enough to stamp labels for my vegetables… Hopefully I will get some time to try this week!

Dylan’s sporty cake


I can’t believe my son is NINE years old today! Wow, how much my life has changed since then! But, if I could go back I wouldn’t change a thing.. How could I?
Ok, before I get all mushy, I’d like to share with you the cake we made for Dylan’s birthday…here’s how we did it…
I started with making a box of cake mix, as per the directions, and divided in half to make a square cake and a circular cake. Once they cooled a little, I popped them out of their pans.

Then, I trimmed off the tops to make them level.

I will give you a condensed version of how I decorated the cake, but if you want more detailed instructions about any step, just let me know!
I used coloured fondant to decorate the cake. I had a pack of Wilton’s that had a variety of skin tones, and I also added some gel food colouring to make them the shades I wanted.

Using the fondant, I hand made baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls and footballs. I did this by rolling small balls, flattening them, then adding details with coloured fondant that I had rolled into really thin snakes. Here are a couple of the footballs I made:

Btw, a great trick for working with fondant is to keep all of the pieces you are not using under a damp towel. They dry quickly, and if you don’t cover them up, the fondant will become hard and crack.
Once I had made about four or five of each ball, I laid them out on a piece of parchment paper, and added the tiniest bit of water to act as glue, to attach all of the balls together.

Then I flipped the piece over and added green fondant to all the spaces, or holes. Then I used a rolling pin to roll out and flatten the entire piece.

As you can see in the finished cake, I used the rolled out piece to cover the square cake, and I ended up cutting down the rounded cake to make more of a cake topper.
Dylan said he also wanted a jersey on the cake, so I cut pieces out of fondant to make the jersey, and the number 9.

And…. Drum roll please…. Here is the finished cake! Ready for the party tomorrow… Looking forward to it, it’s supposed to be a beautiful day!


Flowers ‘n’ Boots


I have seen this idea around, and wanted to try it. I thought it would be cut to have a pair of boots for each kid at our front door. I actually went to Goodwill and found these ones for $1.99 each!
Anyways, the process is pretty simple… Get a couple old pairs of boots

Dandelion crowns!


Where we live right now, the dandelions are in full bloom, I am not a huge fan of dandelions on our property, but I absolutely love fields full of them! Every year for mother’s day, I have Dylan and Sam sit in a dandelion field so I can take a few pictures…Sam usually poses with a dandelion crown.
So, the park close to our house is in full bloom right now, so we took a walk and sat down and tried to make a dandelion crown…
There are two different ways.. Here is the easiest..
Start by crossing two stems, the one on top should be up and down, and the one on the bottom is horizontal…

Then, you wrap the bottom stem around the top stem, making sure that the stem ends up on top of the flower…

Now you simply make sure the stem has looped over the flower and bring it back down with the other stem..

Keep repeating the same steps, put a new flower under the stems, wrap the new stem around and over the new flower, then Holbrook it with the rest of the stems…

Put the new flower, wrap stem around and over, then bring down with the rest of the stems…
If you keep putting the flowers on the same way, it will start to make a spiral pattern…

That’s it!
Now, the second way is my favourite, but it is a little trickier, Sam had difficulty with this one. Basically you start out with three long stemmed dandelions, cross them as if you were going to braid them…

Then basically what you do is braid the stems, but every time you cross over a stem to braid, you add another flower, almost the same as when you are French braiding. I like this one, because the result is a nice thick band of flowers, but the back is plain. The back looks like this…

But, look what you end up with!



By the way, these techniques will also work with other flowers like daisies, or other wild flowers with longer stems! I’ll have to wait a month or so until some other flowers are blooming!

Family portrait!


My grandfather just celebrated his 96th birthday, so we had a great excuse to get together with all of my cousins! My grandfather and grandmother had two children, my mom and aunt, and they each had three children, and now their children are all having children. So, with spouses and babies, the family totals 25, and growing!
So, needless to say, to get a family portrait of all of us together is next to impossible! Plus, the fact that we all live 2 1/2 hours away, makes it more difficult! This is why I was digging out the old collages I made of Dylan and Sam in one of my posts last week. We wanted to give my grandfather a family portrait for his birthday, so why not make a collage?
I asked Everyone to email me a picture of themselves. I told everyone to try to make it a whole body shot, or from the waist up. This is a shot of some of the pictures that I had to work with…

So as you can see, there was a variety.. Some couples, some close up, some a little farther away.
I cut around each picture as close to the lines as I could, careful to cut out any of the background.

This is my brothers family. So, there is a bit of a trick to placing the photos. I tried to overlap them in a way that looked natural and covered up and details or parts I didn’t want to show.
This picture of my brother is a really nice one, but his baby is several months older now, and he sent me a better picture of her, where she is smiling and looking at the camera…

So, the angles worked, that I could overlap the two pictures like this…

Then, I overlapped the next two photos in a similar way…

If someone had their arm out or is reaching out, I tried to put that in front of another picture.

Basically, I put together each family in the same way, then I followed the same process to assemble the families together.
For my grandfather, I assembled the family in a long line, which you will see at the end. I also typed out the words, “happy birthday! We love you!” Because we don’t have a colour printer, I typed and printed the letters, then coloured each letter before gluing it.


Here is what it looks like finished…

I liked the one for my grandfather so much that I thought it would make a great mothers day present for my mom and my aunt too. So, I developed another set of the pictures, cut them out and glued them down using the same method of grouping each family, except I arranged the photos into more of a family tree. I also added my father, uncle, and grandmother, who have all passed away.


As you might be able to see, I made one family tree starting from the bottom growing up, and the other one from the top going down. Both were organized by sides of the family, and birth order, the same way you would organize a family tree.
The thing I like the most about this idea is that it included everyone, including my dad! I can only hope that in 60 years, I will have accomplished as much as my Grampy has! Happy birthday!
Now, I have to make another one for myself, and then maybe I’ll do another one for my dads side of the family, or johns family!