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.

Share Your World – 2014 Week 20

…..the end of a long weekend brings us to a new Share Your World

If you could go back and visit any time period, what time would you travel to and why?

I saved this question for last because I’m not sure which time period I’d want to travel to. Having studied and taught early civilizations, the medieval era, and everything else up to the present day I know too much about the downside of each era, i.e. the plague, wars, disease, poverty, discrimination, persecution, unsanitary living conditions, etc.. If I had to choose I think it might be the early 1900s when the first wave of technology really started to impact people’s daily lives. Imagine experiencing the telephone, cameras, sewing machines, typewriters, electric lights, refrigerators and washing machines powered with electricity for the first time. It must have been a very exciting yet controversial period in history. Abstract art became popular then because with the invention of the camera, artists didn’t need to recreate realistic images onto canvas. They were now free to try new art forms and express their creativity using new techniques and materials. It was also a time when women started to fight for equal rights and fashions changed dramatically. Reminds me a little bit of growing up in the 60s and 70s. The Winkler Sisters

If you could have three wishes granted for you alone, what would they be? This is a time for you to dream and have fun.

My first wish would be to be able to pack my bag at a moment’s notice and fly to anywhere in the world that my heart desires. An opening to a Broadway show in New York, a week on an island in the South Pacific, time spent with my son in Venice for his biennale, or attending an art retreat in the mountains in British Columbia would all be possible in the blink of an eye.

My second wish would be to completely renovate my house from top to bottom. Never mind moving. I love where I live. My only stipulation would be that the work is started and finished by professionals. No more DIY for me.

My third and final wish would be to live a long and healthy life so that I can enjoy the first two.

Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink?

For quenching my thirst, nothing is better than plain old water. I love the water at my cottage because it comes from deep in the ground through a sand point. It is cold and free of chemicals. It’s also tested every year and is about as pure as it gets. No e-coli, bacteria, excess minerals, pollutants, etc..

At home the tap water isn’t bad but I also enjoy a good cup of tea, especially on a chilly night. I’m not usually a beer drinker but on a hot day an ice cold glass of beer with ginger ale, also known as a shanty, also quenches my thirst.

If you watch TV what are your favorite three television shows?

I had to answer this question first because the answer didn’t require a lot of thought. The first show to come to mind is Survivor. I’m a fan through and through and have watched every season since the beginning when Richard Hatch won.

The next show that I love is Dancing With the Stars. I wasn’t always a fan. I don’t think I even bothered watching the first season but it was during season two that I became a fan. One of the reasons why I love this show is because my husband and I took ballroom dancing for about 13 months. We spent three days a week at the dance studio taking private lessons, group lessons and participating in dance parties and competitions. The only reason we stopped was because it became financially burdensome. Dancing with the Stars

Now before you think that I am a reality show freak, which I confess I probably am, my third choice is a drama. Actually I like about three or four dramas. My first choice is The Good Wife. 

In second and third place are Elementary and The Mentalist. All three shows have great actors and great writers.

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 another positive visit to the oral surgeon. Everything is healing on target and I’m able to eat more normally. I’m also grateful for getting out for two long walks this weekend and spending a great day with my daughters and husband on Sunday.

This week I’m looking forward to walking more and for the soccer team’s tournament on Tuesday (that’s tomorrow). I’m also hoping to get out into the garden and plant some flowers, now that the temperatures are starting to warm up. It was pretty cool this weekend.

For more Share Your World posts check out Cee’s Photography.

Correction – Gnat Invasion is Actually a Midge Invasion

…..apparently I’ve misinformed you and what I thought was a gnat is a midge

Today CBC news reported that Toronto is in the middle of a midge invasion. They live near water and seeing that I live next to Lake Ontario it is not unusual to see swarms of them on the street. Apparently those clouds are mating swarms. They look like tiny mosquitoes but they don’t bite. They are attracted to light and that’s why they’re landing on the condominiums by the lake.

I was right about there being more swarms than in past years. Last summer’s unusually wet season is the reason for this years larger population. The good news is that they should disappear in a few days but if we have another wet summer they will return on mass.News video about Midges in Toronto.


Daily Prompts – The Wanderer

……name 5 places you’d like to visit

1. The west and east coasts of Canada. I’ve lived in Canada pretty much all of my life but I’ve never been to any of our coastal areas. I’m very much drawn to water and that’s one of the reasons I’ve lived in Toronto in the same house for over 35 years. I live right next to Lake Ontario and in the summers I spend a great deal of my time at the cottage on Georgian Bay. P1020618 P1010866

2. Italy, the entire boot. I’ve wanted to go to Italy for awhile now. The rolling hills of Tuscany, the history of Rome, the romance of Venice, the mountains in the north and the rugged coastlines tug at my wanderlust. I love the food, the wine and the art and of course the beautiful scenery. What more could a person want?

3. New Zealand and since I’ve travelled so far I might as well hop on over to Australia. I love reading about both countries and I follow several bloggers from ‘down under’. 

4. New York City. The last time I was in NYC I was a mere child of 5 years. We drove down to pick up my Oma from the ship that she travelled on from Germany. Everyone should experience this iconic city at least once in their life and take in the shows, the great restaurants, Central Park, Coney Island and of course the Statue of Liberty.

5. Iceland. My daughter and her partner just came back from Iceland and the rugged scenery intrigues me. The entire country has no more than 300 000 people so the roads are never busy and they are easy to manoeuvre.