After collecting beautifully coloured leaves outside with both my granddaughter and grandson, on two separate occasions, Grandma suggested some fall craftiness.
My three year old granddaughter was impressed with our crafty creation, my four year old grandson not so much.
This simple craft involves colourful leaves, waxed paper, and a hot iron. The leaves get sandwiched between two pieces of waxed paper, wax side inside the sandwich. The hot iron makes the wax paper pieces melt together. Kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich, an analogy my granddaughter came up with.
My grandson however, was adamant that I dismantle the fall craftiness, so the leaves were loose again.
My granddaughter took her craft home intact, my grandson took his leaves home loose. To each his/her own!
There is nothing like a delicious, comforting bowl of hot soup on a cold day. One of my favourite activities in fall is making homemade soup. I call it leftover soup because I use up all the broth and bones taking up space in my freezer as well as any leftover vegetables in my fridge. Homemade is also much more nutritious and tasty than store-bought soups.
How to Create Your Own Broth
I love to make my own broth, mainly because store-bought broth is laden with salt and other ingredients I cannot or don’t care to pronounce or put in my body. I use this homemade broth by the spoonful in sauces or larger amounts in soups and stews.
Save the pan drippings from roasted turkey, chicken, pork or beef in a bucket. Store the bucket in the freezer with additions of drippings in the same bucket. When the bucket is full, start a new one. Each addition freezes in a separate layer with the fat rising to the top of each layer. When you remove the broth for use, the fat is easy to scrape off and discard.
I also add the nutrient-packed liquid left at the bottom of the dish after steaming vegetables to my broth buckets. Another trick is to freeze the tough broccoli stalks you trim off the heads to prepare for meals. Freeze them in another bag.
Bones from roasted meat also store well in the freezer for later use in soups. Simply put them in a sealable plastic bag, squish the air out, and freeze. Turkey legs go right into a freezer bag as soon as they are cut from the turkey. That’s because no one in my household likes to eat them. These legs have lots of meat on them too, which falls off the bones as you simmer them on soup making day.
Freeze only large bones; it is more difficult to separate meat from the small ones. The larger leg bones are easily retrieved after simmering them.
Leftovers in Soup
Leftovers taking up space in your fridge are also great in soups. The remainder of last night’s broccoli, mushrooms, corn, rice, pasta or quinoa all add bulk to your hot soups. If you are not making soup within a few days of preparing these leftovers, add them to the collection in your freezer.
If you grow your own vegetables, as many decided to do during the pandemic, you can freeze any you harvest for later use. I don’t grow that many that I cannot eat as I harvest, but I know those that do! On a recent trip to my favourite farm, my aunt sent me home with lots of tomatoes and instructions on how to roast them with garlic. After following her instructions, I gave several buckets away, but ended up with some in my freezer too.
By now you can probably see why I enjoy making hot soup in the fall. Not only do I end up with a delicious and nutritious meal but my freezer gets cleaned out too!
What child doesn’t love collecting pinecone after pinecone? My grandchildren are no exception. They all love to collect them. The problem becomes what to do with the pinecones once they arrive at my home.
Pinecones and Summer Flowers
I got this idea somewhere, but cannot remember where. The last batch of pinecones my three-year-old granddaughter collected has become a summer flower arrangement, thanks to some spray paint in pretty colours and a plastic bowl.
The first step was to protect my garage floor. We painted the pinecones in the garage as it was raining out the day we decided to tackle this craft.
An old plastic-coated table cloth did the trick. I have several of these around, they come in handy in my gardening business to protect the floors of my van when transporting plants, soil and mulch.
Next, I protected my granddaughter’s clothing and hands as the spray paint I have on hand is not exactly kid-proof or easily removed from clothes or skin.
Although I have several aprons, including a few child-sized ones, they would not cover her arms or legs. So I used one of my favourite long-sleeved shirts designated as gardening wear; it fit her like a dress.
She also wore her garden gloves that stay at my place for our garden adventures/chores…
I had spray paint in green, purple, orange and two shades of pink, a nice assortment of summery colours. We saturated the pinecones with colour, then let them dry in the heat before arranging them in a plastic bowl…
Fall or Winter Pinecone Decorations
In fall or winter, pinecones can be painted white or silver or even left in their natural colour and used in Christmas or winter decorations.
Pinecones collected on our walks are usually small, perfect for holiday centrepieces and more craftiness.
Craft and even grocery stores carry larger ones in fall and winter. These jumbo pinecones look great in outdoor winter arrangements, some even have sticks attached to them for easy insertion into your decor.
Use your imagination to inspire your own pinecone craftiness!
Santa brought me five ceramic stepping stones for Christmas, a DIY craft project for me to paint with my grandchildren. Well, at least the oldest three of five grandchildren, the youngest two are not yet into DIY projects.
We have added their names and the year they were born to the stepping stones too. They are now decorating a fence in Gardens4me as they are much too beautiful to step on. That way I can bring them in for the winter months to protect them from the elements too. These colourful masterpieces will brighten up the area I refer to as my ICU where plants or cuttings I remove from clients’ gardens get rejuvenated.
My oldest granddaughter painted hers and I painted her baby brother’s right after Christmas when she was still coming here for her online school lessons.
My youngest granddaughter painted hers this past week as I painted her baby brother’s while the latter was napping.
I also painted my eldest grandson’s as he had no interest in painting indoors, was keener to go on an outdoor adventure. Appropriately, I had reserved the turtle for him. He’s the grandson that loves to search for turtles at Mud Lake, our frequent adventure spot.
Recently I told you about a project my seven-year-old granddaughter and I started in between her online classes. We gathered seedsfrom my gardens as well as the kitchen, then tried to sprout them in a mini greenhouse. A month later and we have success. Well, some success.
Our melons were the quickest out of the gate, and are looking the best so far…
Others, like hibiscus, red peppers and lemons are a bit slower, just starting to show signs of growth…
Roots from cuttings
For another project we tried placing leaf cuttings in water so they would form roots. I had read that coleus are particularly fond of this treatment, so I took several cuttings of the numerous coleus I planted in gardens this past summer. They were so gorgeous I just had to give propagating them a try. We are also trying to root some begonias that looked spectacular next to the coleus in containers I planted at our local hospice…
Bingo, the coleus rooted up well, in less than one week! The thicker, fleshier begonia stems are still a work in progress. Eight rooted coleus stems have now been promoted to pots with soil:
When many of our seeds showed no growth at all, I investigated further. Rural Sprout for told me some seeds just don’t germinate well straight from the garden or kitchen. We will keep trying though.
We learned to water the seeds from below (inside the tray the pots sit on) instead of from above. This prevents the formation of mold on the soil surface. It also prevents the stems from rotting once they start emerging from the soil.
With the cuttings, we learned to remove all but one leaf from the stem and keep that leaf out of the water. You learn this from the foul smell that the water quickly emits if any leaves touch (rot in) the water. I knew this from fresh cut flowers in vases, just forgot to apply the knowledge to this project. To prevent the leaves from touching the water you can use plastic wrap over the jar of water with holes poked in for the stems.
I have a perfect solution in a glass vase spacer, basically a glass disc with holes in it that fits on the top of a vase. In this case, it sits on a cup full of water…
I have a kitchenette in my basement with lots of counter space, a sink, and a nearby window to provide natural light, providing a perfect setup for these botany projects.
Come spring we should have lots of plants for our gardens and containers. Any ideas of other seeds we can try? We’ve got lots of time!
Anyone trying to complete a DIY project involving wood this summer knows what I mean about a lumber shortage. I’m not sure just how wide spread the shortage was, but we sure felt it here in the Ottawa area. Of course the shortage is COVID related, isn’t everything bad related to the dreaded virus these days?
Enter the pandemic, throwing everything and everyone into chaos, even the best laid plans.
Luckily hubby had some pressure treated lumber stashed away, remnants from our deck project several summers ago. I won’t be living down this (only) advantage of his “discard nothing” personality anytime soon!
We were able to get started using this leftover lumber, but had to wait (what seemed like) forever for the floor boards. I was finally able to locate some 12 footers we needed to finish the project this past week. Thankfully, our son has a large truck and could transport the boards from Ottawa to the cottage for us.
We finally completed the project, a few months later than planned. This base will look awesome next summer when the cedars are trimmed and a few of my specialties, planters full of colorful flowers, are added.
A quilted wall hanging is an easy DIY project for any room in your home. This one was created for my granddaughter’s bedroom. I was looking for fabric with butterflies or flowers in soft colours, but fell in love with the vibrant pink, blue, purple and green hues of this seahorse and mermaid panel.
I love what I call these “cheater quilt” panels for the ease in which the wall hanging (or blanket if you prefer) can be assembled and sewn. The panels are purchased in whatever length and width their motif (theme) is repeated in. Some are sold in individual panels, this one came in a roll of fabric, so I purchased just enough of the fabric for one complete repeat of the pattern. Then choose coordinating fabric for as many borders as you want to add to finish the project. You also require fabric for the backing and batting for the middle layer.
My dining room makes for a great sewing room, with the table a perfect size to lay out, measure, pin and cut the fabric panel and borders I chose. My granddaughter’s big girl room (her parents are expecting another baby soon) was recently painted in a soft grey colour with one wall in bright bubble gum pink. For that reason, I chose a bright pink thread and outer border to enhance the pink in the mermaid’s hair and multicolored border, as well as her accent wall. I also chose to use pink thread and a zig-zag stitch on the borders to increase the pink content.
Once the layers are assembled, begin stitching around the features in the pattern. Be sure to pin the layers together every few inches before sewing to prevent the layers from shifting or bunching as you sew. Start sewing from the middle and work your way out to the edges. Also be sure to add stitching to bare areas, leaving no more than two inches between stitching. These tricks also prevent bunching of the fabrics. In this pattern I simply stitched along the colourful weeds, fish, and other sea life depicted on the panel.
Since there were so many colours in this quilt top, I used different colours of thread. Check out the colours on the black backing I used; I think this adds a unique feature to the project, especially if it is to be used as a blanket.
My eldest son just turned 30, although sometimes it seems like he was just born yesterday. His safe arrival was the best Christmas present ever, especially after the struggle we had the few years prior to his birth. A few months ago I started thinking of something I could do to commemorate this special birthday. I much prefer unique DIY projects rather than store-bought gifts. Over the years I have collected childhood memories in the form of ribbons, pictures, schoolwork, even teeth and hair from all three sons. I planned to use this huge bucket of memorabilia to make a scrapbook for each son, eventually. As I was wracking my brain for something to do or make, I remembered the bucket, stored with all of our other “stuff” in the basement, and the birthday scrapbook project took off.
I started with a catchy cover, but I guess you had to be there to understand just how significant it is. When our boys were young, we always sang “happy birthday, birthday boy” to them on their special days. I think they found it more annoying than funny, but I think it makes a perfect title for the scrapbook…
First I had to wade through all the items in the stored bucket. I swear I have saved every report card, birthday card, award, and more. Years ago, when scrapbooking was the rage, I was ambitious enough to divide the memorabilia into three separate buckets, one for each son, but that was as far as I got. I even purchased one large 18×18 inch scrapbook around the same time with good intentions. It was still in its packaging, just waiting for me to put it to use. A friend supplied lots of stamps, stickers, fancy scissors and other scrapbooking paraphernalia she had collected over the years.
My first page was dedicated to my son’s first few days of life. I had a copy of his family tree (from his baby book) hospital bracelets, pictures of him with his grandparents, newspaper birth announcements and even a newspaper clipping of what was going on in the world in 1989…
Pictures and mementos from his early years were next, including a few baby teeth and a sample of his first haircut…
…followed by pictures of him with most of his family members. Mom & Dad, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
Next came Christmas memories, mostly pictures, with two personalized letters from Santa, courtesy of a friend’s father who spent hours writing back to children every year. I had also saved a few decorations used at a New Year’s Eve street party celebrating the turn of the century…
Another page was dedicated to birthdays. Lots of party pictures, with a special “pocket” created to hold birthday cards, especially the handmade ones from friends and his younger brothers…
Hanging With My Friends was the next page, displaying pictures of accumulated friends from pre-kindergarten to university. The picture in the top left corner appears fuzzy due to the steam off the hot tub my sons and the neighbourhood kids used to love to hang out in…
My son played many sports growing up and is a huge sports fan as well. The next page contains many ticket stubs, Brier autographs, pictures of sporting events and stadiums visited, as well as two curling idols, Brad Gushue and Wayne Middaugh…
The next two pages are full of vacation memories: Texas, San Francisco, Florida, New Orleans, Dominican Republic, Cuba, NYC, and our family cottage here in Ontario, with the second page reserved for our trip to Hawaii. Mementos include ticket stubs from various attractions, a boarding pass to Hawaii, and lots of pictures.
My son attended both Beavers and Cubs within Kanata Scouts, so I had lots of memorabilia in those categories…
Soccer (outdoor and indoor) is a sport he played and still plays, 25 years and counting…
The other sport he started young and still plays is curling. In fact, he met his wife at the curling rink way back in the Little Rocks program. He has so many accolades in the curling world that I had to dedicate two pages to the sport…
Other sports played included volleyball, swimming, T-ball, and cross-country running…
When he wasn’t playing or watching a sport, he was at piano lessons or practicing at home. At the time, he was the youngest to take lessons at Music For Young Children, starting at the age of 2.5 years old! His first recital was just before he turned 3 where he nailed Row, Row, Row Your Boat. We discovered his love for the piano when he would often go across our street to play the neighbour’s piano. She just happened to make puppets for MYC, so knew the founder, convincing her to let my son try the lessons at such a young age…
I had lots of memorabilia saved from the three schools my son attended from kindergarten through high school. There are four pages for Castlefrank Elementary School with two of them exhibiting his early artwork and writing journals. The pink piece in the top right corner of the first picture is a cupid, on a valentine’s card he gave to us. One page is dedicated to Katimavik Elementary School where he attended grades 7 and 8. A fourth page is for Earl of March Secondary School, grades 9 through 12. The awards in the packets are for his honor roll and math contest achievements…
After high school my son attended Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, graduating in 2011 with a degree in Civil Engineering. I didn’t have as much paraphernalia from those four years, most likely because he did not live at home. The next page combines items from his jobs over the years as well as the Queen’s stuff I did mange to accumulate, including a false ID.
The last page is entitled “the Next Chapter” with mementos from his new house, engagement, wedding, the birth of his daughter and his new, expanding family…
This scrapbook was lots of work, but definitely a labour of love and a sentimental walk down memory lane for me. I knew I saved all that stuff for a reason! I hope I have inspired some of you to put your collection of memorabilia to good use too.
As I was removing window boxes filled with perennials and frost-damaged annuals at the hospice I volunteer at, it dawned on me that these window boxes would look awesome with winter evergreen arrangements in them. Evergreen boughs with pops of red for a splash of color against the white walls of the building and snow on the ground.
Thanks to the early arrival of winter weather in our area, the plants, and soil in the window boxes were frozen solid. I brought them home and put them in my basement to warm up to enable the change of décor.
Once thawed, the first thing I did was remove the dead annuals. Next, I trimmed the dormant perennials hard, back to a few inches from the soil level. This step was to allow space for the evergreen boughs and decorative trimmings.
Most grocery stores sell evergreen boughs in bundles this time of year for such DIY projects, as do home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot. I just take a walk through the woodland trails in my neighbourhood with a pair of clippers and a bag. Cedar, pine, and spruce boughs as well as pine cones are plentiful. Sometimes I can even find some vibrant red dogwood and/or contrasting white birch branches and twigs. If not, the stores sell those as well.
Your local dollar store will provide the finishing touches like artificial poinsettia, bows, red berries etc. Battery-powered twinkling lights were also added for nighttime pizzazz.
Looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift? Check out this Facebook page for Classy Glass Upcycles! Select a beautiful creation to enhance your Mom’s garden, yard, or indoor location. Indulge in one for yourself too!
These awesome creations are lovingly handcrafted in Cornwall, Ontario by a family friend. Each item is unique, (re)using the beautiful glass found in so many vintage vases and bowls. What an fantastic idea; I love the idea of upcycling these exquisite treasures from yesteryear.
Visit the page to check out the posted creations currently available. Or commission one (or two) in the color, shape and size of your choice.