Making Journals with Kids

….I’ve always wanted to try this technique of making an art journal from one sheet of watercolour paper

As many of you know I run a book club at my school that runs for about 5 months. The books that we read all come from the Forest of Reading program which feature Canadian authors. There are different books for different levels of readers. Each program is named after a tree. For example, the primary English picture books are called Blue Spruce and the books for the junior grades are named Silver Birch.

I usually start with over 100 readers from grades 3 to 5. Each student is given a passport and each time they finish reading a book they fill in the passport with a summary of the book. They then go to the expert reader (a teacher or grade 5 student) and are questioned about that particular book. Each time they answer the questions successfully they receive a credit or two, depending on the length and difficulty of the book. This year they were given the goal of obtaining a minimum of 12 credits in order to participate in the year end celebration.

It is a very doable goal, but some students became frustrated when the book they wanted to read had been checked out. There were 120 copies of the English books and 60 copies of the French books. In the end 34 students reached the goal and one student managed to read every single book. There were exactly 50 titles to choose from. This was a record for the book club.

For our celebration we organized two activities for the students. The first activity was a drama workshop that featured one of the Silver Birch books. It was run by our dynamic drama teacher.

After that we were fortunate enough to book an author who had written one of this years non-fiction entries. Caroline Fernandez wrote Boredom Busters and talked to the children about the steps one has to go through to publish a book. The fact that amazed all of us was that for an $18.00 book the author received only 87 cents. Her presentation was very interesting and she loved the the fact that some of the students in the room had made some of the crafts from her book. 9781782491057_z

At lunch we invited the expert readers to come and join us for lunch. We ordered pizza and had juice and popsicles.

After lunch I taught the students how to make an art journal using one sheet of watercolour paper. The trickiest part was folding the paper so two of my colleagues who helped me with organizing the day pre-folded the paper. We only made the first two folds because the size of the paper was a little too large for small hands to manage but the students made the remaining folds. Then the paper was cut in three places and the folding began.

Each student was given two pieces of cardboard that they could decorate any way they wanted. I provided them with scrapbook paper, stickers, stamps, collage papers, letters, and markers and pencils. Once the covers were decorated the end papers of the folded journal were glued to the covers. Each student was also given one or two colourful elastics to hold their journals shut.

The students had a wonderful time making their personal journals and some of them started to draw and paint in them as soon as they were finished. Here are a few of the finished projects. If you would like to try making one of these journals watch the video following the picture gallery.

Here is video for making the journals:

Making a simple journal


Happy Birthday, Valentine’s Day and Family Day

….for my friend Maria all the good stuff comes together in less than a week

This week my friend Maria celebrated her birthday and was finally well enough to have company. She recently had her hip replaced (her second one) and didn’t recover as quickly as with the first one; however, this week she was finally receiving visitors. In honour of her birthday I decided to bake her some cookies and bought her a nice new mug, some tea and candy. I also collected some of my favourite novels that I’ve read in the past year or so and put them in a bag for her to pull out and read at her leisure.

Over at Life in Between my blogging friend, Jodi posted a wonderful recipe for Amish Oatmeal Raisin cookies and I was very eager to try it. The instructions were easy to follow and the recipe made  four dozen very large cookies. My husband loves oatmeal raisin cookies and the only fault he found with these was that there weren’t enough raisins. Easy solution; just add more next time. I, however, found the amount to be perfect. This recipe is a little different from most oatmeal cookies because it has molasses in it and that’s why the colour is darker.

I packed a dozen cookies into a small disposable loaf pan and placed it inside a special translucent bag with hearts on the outside. I then placed them into a square basket that I had purchased and placed the other items (tea, mug, candy) next to the bag.

Before making my way to Maria’s house I decided to make her a card. I took some watercolour paper and watercolour markers and created a simple design to acknowledge her birthday, St. Valentine’s Day, Family Day and a speedy recovery.

In the end I had a very nice visit with my good friend. Her husband spoiled us with wine to start, a plate of cheese and then before I left he made us tea and we enjoyed some of the cookies that I had baked.

If the cookies interest you be sure to check out Jodi’s recipe over at Life in Between.

Cheers and have a wonder Valentine’s Day!

A Bit of Cleaning, Some Reading, Making Bean Soup and Visiting Friends

….Monday, July 6, 2015

People often wonder what I do at the cottage all day, especially when I’m up here alone. Well there’s lots to do but no pressure as to when I do it. I like that.

Instead of spending two days of solid cleaning when I first open the cottage I like to spread it out and do a little bit every day. I take care of the absolute essentials when I first arrive, like fill up the water barrel, start the fridge, make the bed, uncover the furniture and wipe down all the surfaces that I’ll be using right away.


On subsequent days, I’ve washed all the dishes, even though they were clean when I left in October, wiped out the cupboards and restocked them and organized my clothes and put them back into the dresser. All of this is necessary because at some point in the months when we’re away a few rodents manage to find their way into the cottage, looking for warmth, food and shelter. Unfortunately for some of them they don’t survive and I usually find a few carcasses lying about and of course evidence that they’ve been around. Luckily this year the evidence has been minimal and a few of them had drowned in a bucket of water that was inside the cottage.

One of my goals this summer is to finish reading the books that I started this year and then didn’t finish before I picked up another to read. I’m happy to report that I’ve finished two of them and am concurrently reading two more. I also started a new book and I finished that as well. I think I will report on those books in a future post.

Another goal is to do a little bit of art everyday or at least a couple of times a week. I completed one art assignment this week and I started sketching in my art journal. Another goal well on it’s way!


I didn’t bring up a lot of food on this visit but enough to get me through the week. When I was cleaning out the cupboards I noticed that I had left a container of dried beans here over the winter. I decided to make soup from scratch. I turned on the side burner on the BBQ and cooked onions, celery and carrots in a large soup pot. I added a chopped clove of garlic and then 4 cups of broth, 2 cups of water, a tin of diced tomatoes and 1 cup of dried beans. I added salt and pepper to taste and then I let it cook for 2 hours. After the two hours I looked in the fridge to see what else I could add and I found some chick peas, cooked hamburger and fresh mushrooms. I chopped up the burgers and the mushrooms and added everything to the pot. I let it cook for a few more minutes and dinner was ready. I grated in some fresh parmesan cheese. Delicious!

Of course I had way more soup than I could eat so I put the rest into container and froze it for future meals and I kept some in the fridge for another dinner this week.

While I was cooking I got a phone call from a friend who has a cottage four roads over from mine. She invited me to come to her place for a chat, a glass of wine and to see the finished renovations on her cottage. The soup had pretty much finished cooking, so I turned it off and walked over (1500 steps). The cottage looked fantastic and since we hadn’t seen each other since January we had a nice long gab and got caught up on each other’s lives.

When I finally left it was going on 8:00 and I ended up having a late dinner. The nice part was that it was already cooked, I just had to reheat it. Even though it was getting dark I ventured down to the beach for one last walk and just managed to get in my 10,000 steps for the day. I did decide though that leaving my walk for that late wasn’t the best decision because the mosquitoes also come out at that time. Note to self, walk before the sun sets.


So that’s my day in a nutshell. Everyday I read a little, do art a little, cook, clean and visit friends, either in person or on the phone. I hope all of you enjoy your days as much as I do. Cheers!

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I’m Still in the City

….I woke up with every intention on leaving for the cottage today

I woke up fairly early and started to gather up the things I need for the trip to the cottage. My husband left with the dog to visit our daughter in Hamilton. He has an appointment tomorrow so he wasn’t able to join me on this trip. After he left I started looking for the cooler to pack my food. I couldn’t find it. There was an old one here but it needed a good cleaning. Then I couldn’t find the drill. Without it I won’t be able to get into the cottage.

I texted, emailed and phoned my husband. It took awhile before I heard back from him. The drill was at our daughter’s place and the cooler was in the back of his car. He said he’d hurry back after lunch but I told him to take his time. The drill needed to be charged anyway.

So I packed my clothes, wrote a letter to a friend in the U.S., cleaned the kitchen, did more laundry, put away some clothes, and cooked dinner. I then walked up the street to mail the letter and pick up some fresh berries and vegetables to take with me tomorrow.  I also ordered tickets for the Pan Am Games. We’re going to see three women’s soccer games with our daughters. The last one will be the finals. There has been so much pessimism about these games that we felt we really had to support them. Maybe we’ll pick up a couple more events when the Para Pam Am games start in August.


I also found the time to upload three new books to my e-reader. In the past I’ve had issues getting the books from my computer onto the Kobo but today I added wifi to the devise and the transition was seamless. Ahhhh, technology. I love it when it works. Now I also have my summer reading at my fingertips.

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So I thought I had used up all my excuses for not getting up to the cottage. Hopefully there won’t be anything else keeping me here in the city.

Architects Do Design Cities and Curvy Buildings

…..the book, Young Frank, Architect, inspired our art lesson in Kindergarten

Two weeks ago I reminded my kindergarten class of the book we read in the library. The book was Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva and published by MOMA.IMG_4605

The story is about a young boy named Frank and his grandfather, also named Frank. Both Franks are architects. Young Frank builds chairs, curvy buildings and models of entire cities. His grandfather tells him that architects don’t design chairs, buildings should be straight and architects design one building at a time and cities take a hundred years to develop. Young Frank is discouraged and he doesn’t want to be an architect any longer. Old Frank decides to take Young Frank to the museum, the MOMA, so that he can show his grandson the buildings that architects design. In the end it is Old Frank who learns that he was mistaken and he apologizes to Young Frank. The book ends with briefs bios about Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry.

The art lesson introduced the kindergarteners to collage and city landscapes. They were reminded  about foreground and background and were taught how to create a night sky with stars and a moon. Students were encouraged to cut out at least three high rise buildings and make windows and doors in different shapes. It was up to them whether they wanted to create straight or curvy ‘Frank’ buildings. The shapes of some of the buildings are delightful. It’s amazing how much their scissor skills have improved since last September. Enjoy!

Meet the Leaf Man

….in kindergarten we collected leaves and created these wonderful leaf ‘people’ and creatures

Lois Ehlert has written and illustrated a wonderful children’s book called the Leaf Man. She is a collage artist and writer and has illustrated the entire book with the use of leaves. Using her book as our inspiration the kindergarten children created their own leaf people during art class. They really enjoyed the process.

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Lois Ehlert has illustrated and written many children’s books. This cute video is narrated by a little boy name Jonah. He’s actually reading The Leaf Man. Enjoy!

Share Your World – Week 36

…..another great set of questions from Cee’s Share Your World

Do you prefer reading coffee table books (picture), biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational?

I really enjoy looking through coffee table books but I love reading fiction.


What is your biggest fear or phobia? (no photos please)

I don’t know why but I have an unexplainable fear of bears. I’ve never encountered a bear and I don’t want to. Two years ago a family of bears swam across the bay to our island and have lived there ever since. I will not walk by myself through the woods anymore. Luckily the island is very large and very few people have even seen the bears but there is evidence that they’re around. I think my fear may have come from reading a book my aunt gave me over 30 years ago about bear attacks.


What is your favorite cheese?

I love all types of cheese. I don’t think I can just pick one. My favourites include old cheddar, brie and 1-65

What is your favorite month of the year?

Right now I’ll say August. Usually it’s the best month to be at the cottage because the water has warmed up and the mosquitoes are almost non-existent. It’s also the month when I celebrate my anniversary and my birthday.

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Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for all the help that I got from the parents and students who helped me organize the library. It’s not quite finished but it looks 100% better.

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Next week I’m looking forward to getting together with friends from high school. Some of these women I haven’t seen in over 40 years.

A Day of Reading and Quiet Reflection

… road to recovery has been painless

After icing my jaw all day long yesterday I was happy not to have to do that today. There was little to no swelling this morning so I guess the ice paid off. I started the morning with a delicious peach mango smoothie that my husband made for me and for lunch I had some creamed soup and leftover mashed cauliflower with an egg mixed in for some protein. Both meals were somewhat satisfying and I wasn’t as hungry today as I was yesterday.

One of the benefits of staying home and having restrictions as to what I’m allowed to do is that I was able to get a lot of reading done. I’m all caught up with my emails and I’ve finally started a new book, Road Ends, by Mary Lawson which I’m about a third of the way into. I’ve also been able to research some great art sites for ideas for upcoming art classes at school.

We also got some good news today. My husband went for his quarterly check-up at the hospital this morning and his blood count is still in the normal range. It’s always a little stressful for my husband on those days coming up to his appointments.

Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Pleasure

Knowing that we don’t have to worry about the return of my husband’s cancer for at least another three to six months brings us both a great deal of pleasure.

Pleasure is Nature’s test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and with his environment…..Oscar Wilde

As we get older we appreciate the simpler things in life. Here are a few things that give us pleasure:

For more quotes and photographs about pleasure check out Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge.

Share Your World 2014 – Week 17

….I don’t know about that monkey question

What are some words that just make you smile?

Words that make me smile? From my students….”I love art class”, from my kids “thanks, Mom”, from my husband “Wine?” and from my friends “Let’s get together”.

When you lose electricity in a storm, do you light the candles or turn on the flashlight? How many of each do you own?

We own dozens of candles and a couple of flashlights. We only use the flashlight to find the candles and lighter. We love candle light and light candles often, especially when we’re enjoying  a special romantic dinner.P1030913 P1030906

What is the longest book you ever read?

I think the longest book I’ve ever read was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It contains 870 pages.

So you win a pet monkey at a fair, but this isn’t just any old monkey. It can do one trick for you whenever you want from getting a pop out of the fridge to washing your hair. What would be the trick?

I don’t know about winning a monkey. I don’t think there’s anything that a monkey could do that would make me want to own one, never mind washing my hair. Yikes! The thought gives me the creeps.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for the sunny weekend and getting out for a long walk with the dogs on Sunday. I’m looking forward to a quick recovery after my oral surgery on Thursday.

For more Share Your World entries check out

Share Your World – Week 7

….four more interesting questions

What is your favorite couch potato activity: readings, watching movies, watching sports, napping, anything on TV, computer games, play cards, or other?

My favourite couch potato activity is watching a good movie or documentary. I always feel that I can never get those two hours back again so whatever I watch has to be worth my time. If I’m learning something interesting I always feel that is time well spent and if I get enjoyment out of it all the better.

What is your favorite toppings on pizza?

Pizza is an indulgence and special treat so again it has to be worth the calories. Some of my favourite toppings are: mushrooms, roasted red peppers, ricotta cheese, meatballs

Pizza done in a special pizza oven where it cooks in minutes and the thin crust comes out slightly charred is my all time favourite. Top it with fresh arugula and I’m in pizza heaven.

I have to admit that our favourite pizzas lately have been the ones we make ourselves at home. We don’t have a special pizza oven but we’ve been toying with building one in the backyard. Garden Fork has made a video on how to make a dry fit pizza oven with clay brick. I’ve wanted to make one of these for the cottage. I need to find 96 clay bricks and an old bed frame and I’ll be good to go.

What is is favorite genre of movie or book?

I don’t like horror or action movies. Give me a good drama, love story or intelligent comedy and I’m good to go. Add a little suspense and something with a surprise ending and I’ll talk about it forever. I’m pretty much the same with books. Some of my favourite books are:

The Help, The Rosie Project, The Birth House, Best Laid Plans, The Book of Negroes, Cutting for Stone

Favourite Movies:

The Wizard of Oz, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Toy Story 1, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sixth Sense, Titanic, Django Unchained (I was surprised how much I enjoyed this), Captain Phillips, 

Movies I Want to See:

Philomena, Gravity, Saving Mr. Banks

Do you prefer eating the frosting of the cake first?

I love frosting but I like it with the cake so I try to make sure that every bite has some frosting on it.