Monday, May 30, 2016

Rouge River Paddle

Last weekend was a long weekend here in Ontario, and my husband and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and took our canoe up the Rouge River in Pickering. We were quite surprised at how nice it was!

The trees are still sorting themselves out and some were still not in full leaf, but they created a springtime gentleness to the landscape.

Along the way was saw this old chimney made from field stones. I imagine at one time someone had a small cabin or cottage on the shore here. There are massive modern homes overlooking parts of the river, but for the most part the area is just left wild.

I was concerned that there would be a lot of garbage along the water and shores, but it was surprisingly clean! The water itself was very murky, and there was no way I was going to step into it to get into the canoe. I distrust that murk ... leeches creep me out. We paddled along for about an hour up the river and when we encountered very shallow water and small rapids (and no visible portage around them), we turned around and had an easy paddle down river (downhill all the way back).

There were lots of birds flitting through the trees, and we saw an abundance of Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and small shore birds.

Male Oriole

Female Oriole


Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Spotted Sandpiper

The tiny sandpipers were my favourites. I'm not familiar with a lot of water birds, and I looked these up when I got home. These tiny birds are classified as the "Peeps" of sandpipers. They were so sweet, about the size of a sparrow with long beaks and legs. So delicate and dainty as they stepped quickly and lightly through the shallow water on the shore to pick out treats from the water. They weren't shy at all and we were able to get very close to them.

Least Sandpiper

The Rouge River empties into Lake Ontario, so we paddled right out to the lake and then stopped to stretch our legs on the beach. As you can see, there are nuclear silos in the distance. I live sandwiched between two nuclear power plants ... a comforting thought :[

Lake Ontario with Pickering Nuclear Power Station in distance.

Have a great day!


Monday, May 09, 2016

Crafting with the Kids

Thank you for all your comments on my post for Mother's Day! I should have mentioned in that post that my mother passed away five years ago, but I still like to wish her a Happy Mother's Day as well. She will forever be in my heart, and it was so kind of some of you to say she looked nice. She was about 82 in the photo, and it was one of the last spring times that she was able to spend at their country property before she and my dad moved into town a couple of years later.

I myself had a wonderful day yesterday, although it is never celebrated as "Mother's Day" here. I guess I've had a few words to say about this to my family in the past, and my very sweet 18 year old son gave me this lovely ink print of a loon for Mother's Day. He knows loons are very special to me.

He had picked it up at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) in Toronto during a school field trip last week. He often is the only one who recognizes the day for me with a card or a gift, which I very much appreciate. My husband and I went for another short walk through Thickson Wood in the morning, and then we took a sandwich down to the lake and sat watching the waterbirds as we ate our lunch. This is often how we spend a nice weekend, but even so, it was a nice day.

Last week I assisted my daycare kids in making a gift for their own mothers. This idea is all over Pinterest, and I was happy for the inspiration!

We used some pre-framed canvas from the dollar store (such a great price compared to the big craft store chain here). These frames are I believe 11 x 15 (can't quite remember now). I used really wide masking tape to tape the letters "L" and "E" directly onto the canvas. To make them a little more rough and juvenile looking, I carefully ripped a thin strip off all the edges of the tape. I got it started by snipping in a little bit on the edges. I think it looked much better than perfectly straight lines. 

We took these outdoors and with small paint sponges I let the kids paint the canvas with just a few colours. We set them aside to dry in the sun for a bit (I used acrylic paints, so they dry in about 10 minutes in the sun). Then the "fun part" came (ugh!!) with painting their very ticklish little feet and hands and getting the imprint on top of the painted canvas. I used white paint to get it to match the letters. I found after the first attempt that it is best to load the paint quite heavily on the child's hand or foot to get a thick coverage stamped on the painting. I also had a bucket of warm water, a soft cloth and a towel ready to get those painted hands and feet cleaned right away before they got paint everywhere! It went fairly well, but there were a lot of orders being issued by me to prevent painting disaster. These kids are both two years old and extremely energetic! Once it had all dried again, I carefully peeled up the masking tape to reveal the white letters. I haven't heard yet if they were a success with the mom's, but I personally would have loved to have a set of these with my kids' little hands and feet! My son now has a size 11 shoe, so I'm not sure how cute that would look anymore ;)

Enjoy your day folks
and thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, May 05, 2016

Wandering Camera at Thickson Wood

This morning I took a walk through a tiny little nature reserve very close to my house. Half of it is wooded and the other half is a field. The woods are right along the shores of Lake Ontario, and are a protected bit of private land. It's a haven for birdwatchers and for anyone looking for wildflowers (such as me!). I was first greeted with the beautiful Baltimore Oriole as he sang his sharp clear song as we stepped into the woods. They sound quite similar to the American Robin, but with a louder and clearer note. These woods are beautiful because they are just left to evolve on their own. The only work that is done is to maintain the pathways by clearing them of fallen trees etc. There are quite a few tall white pines in the forest, along with the stumps from logging days. Lots of  heavy vines cover some of the trees making it very attractive for nesting birds.

I'm not so good at identifying wildflowers, so there are a few here for which I don't know the name. Also, even though there seem to be wildflowers blooming everywhere at the moment ... very little is blooming here. I've taken photos of the plants I saw today, but many of them weren't in flower just yet. I did find this great website for Ontario Wildflowers if you're interested. Lots of photos and descriptions to help identify plants. I should point out also that you were forbidden from leaving the path in this sensitive area, so I couldn't get right up to some of the plants. I actually used a zoom lens to get in close enough to show you (not the best for close ups!).

I'm just going to let the pictures do the talking now. I hope you enjoy them! I'm linking up today with Soma of Whims and Fancies and her Wandering Camera.

Baltimore Oriole

May Apples

the tiny May Apple


Rufous-sided Towhee

Dogtooth Violet


and more ferns!


an old puffball?

May Apples

Red Trilliums!

Red-winged Blackbird

Marsh Marigolds


White Trilliums ... Ontario's Provincial Flower

White Trillium still in bud


Sign as you enter the field
Sign as you enter the woods

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