The Mighty Charles

….Charles is a wild born western lowland gorilla who resides at the Toronto Zoo

Charles turned 45 this fall and has sired 15 offspring while living at the Toronto Zoo. He came to Toronto in 1974 when he was only 2 years old. In the 90s he created quite an uproar because he wouldn’t interact with offspring that weren’t his own and wouldn’t allow the prodigy from other gorilla groups to socialize.

In order to allow the others to interact Charles was sent away for a brief period of time each day in solitude. In an effort to keep Charles contented during these intervals away from his harem, he was given access to large sheets of paper and non-toxic coloured paints. His painting were sold for $400 to $1000 a piece and the money raised ($37 000.00) was used for a new gorilla exhibit. Check the link below to see some of his work.

Charles the Painter

On our visit Charles rested comfortably at the base of the enclosure looking over his harem and the other families. He is clearly the dominant male there. The other large silver back males have to be kept away from him. When his own male offspring reach maturity they have to be sent away so that father and son don’t fight each other for control of the harem.

As Charles watches the females guard their offspring and the young ones climb and play with each other.P1050110P1050109P1050106P1050105

WPC – Surprise

going through the different folders in iPhone I discovered some slide shows that I created 5 and 4 years ago, pre iPhone and my newest camera

The surprise for me was how well the photos came out with my simple point and shoot digital camera. The only feature that it had that I loved was the macro setting.




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


Going Back to the Basics

….I haven’t posted any art in awhile

My life has been in a bit of a turmoil lately and I find it difficult to find time to work on my bigger art projects. Not having my space to work in doesn’t help either but I have managed to do some small daily drawing assignments in the last six days.

Lisa Congden is the artist who is challenging her followers to draw simple objects every day for 31 days. Lisa Congden from Creative Bug is a graphic and textile designer who hosts numerous on-line classes at this site. For a very small monthly fee you can access numerous how to videos for lots of DIY projects.

Here are some of the drawings from the first six days. I need to work on my sneaker skills.


Real “Baby” Carrots

….and all their lovely imperfections

Last weekend we pulled the remaining carrots from out garden. It was difficult to see the fruits of our labour amidst all the greenery that grows above ground.


After a thorough washing, I removed the leafy stems and put every tiny misshaped carrot to the side. There were red, yellow, white and orange carrots in the mix and some were smaller than my baby toe. No matter. They were sweet and tender and when I put them into the measuring cup I had almost 8 cups of a very edible and nourishing vegetable.



Tonight some of those carrots made their way into our stir fry. Tomorrow I’ll probably take some to school and eat them raw with some humus dip. Yum!

Over at Colline’s Blog, Colline wrote a similar article about food waste and included a video called Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables. I thought it was excellent and decided to share it with you. This is how France tackled the problem of food waste. Ingenious!


ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Railpath Run

….started running again yesterday

I decide that I needed a goal to keep running more regularly. I was surprised that after not running for so long that I was able to run 2K without stopping. My daughter, A, has recently started running and told me about a fun run coming up in September. It’s not about a set distance in this run but it’s based on time and how far you can run in 45 minutes. Sounds perfect for me.

The money raised for this event goes to STOP which is a community organization that feeds the homeless and families in need of food in the community. I think that all the money comes from the registration fee so I won’t be asking for any donations. The date for the run is Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. This should give me plenty of time to work up to 45 minutes of running but because it’s a fun run/walk there will be a lot of walkers so if I need to stop and walk for a bit it’s no big deal. I’m really looking forward to this day. If you’re in the Toronto area and want to participate check out the Railpath Run website here.

The other thing that I did today, after getting home from the dentist, was complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Again my oldest daughter, A, nominated me and because it’s for a good cause I decided to follow through. Here’s my video. 

If you haven’t participated in this challenge and would like to I will be happy to nominate any of my followers. Just say that Carol Cormier nominated you. The important thing, however, is to donate to ALS. I just googled ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and I was able to donate right on line. The one thing I didn’t know was that every country has an ALS chapter and I ended up donating to the American site. No matter, it all goes to a good cause.

If you do participate I’d love to see your video.




Pliio Clothing Organizer

….if there’s one thing I need it’s help organizing my clothes

I don’t normally advertise products on my blog but I recently purchased a Pliio organizer at our school’s silent auction. Clare Kumar is a parent at our school and the inventor of Pliio (I hope I got that right). When she first showed me this product I was intrigued and so when I saw it at the auction I had to have it. Here’s a video on how this product works.

I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to use the organizers but it will either be for my 30 some scarves or for my summer tops. If you’re interested in purchasing this product you can buy the Pliio at the following:

Bed, Bath and Beyond (Canada)

Bed, Bath and Beyond (U.S.A.)

The Shopping Channel

For more information about Pliio you can contact Clare Kumar at: 

NB – I don’t receive any kickbacks, commission or payment for endorsing this product.