Category Archives: Kids

Christmas Open House

When do officially start you start your Christmas season? In my daughter’s Clifford Christmas book, Emily Elizabeth declares that Christmas starts at the Thanksgiving parade, when Santa comes to town.  My American relatives agree.  Growing up, we wouldn’t listen to Christmas music prior to Remembrance day, but decorations didn’t even begin to emerge until December 1st.  According to the church calendar, there are four Sundays of Advent, prior to Christmas Day.

If you’ve been to Lacoste lately, you’ll have noticed that we have officailly started our Christmas season.  Our wreath/swag making workshops have been filled, with the exception of a few remaining spots,  and our “Jingle and Mingle” family and friends night has passed.  However, coming up this Saturday is one of my favourite Lacoste events of the year.  The annual Open House has evolved from a small kids craft and some food samples, to a much fuller event.  We still have a kids craft, but now there is also face painting, and snacks.  There is, of course food samples, along with hot chocolate and hot apple cider.  There is a petting zoo with sheep, and chickens and usually a goat that comes to visit.  However, most importantly, Santa and Mrs Claus come to visit and read stories with the kids. It really is a great day to come with the family, choose a tree, maybe roast a marshmallow or two, and get into the Christmas spirit!

Christmas Open House2015

Times to note:

We are open all weekend:

Saturday 9-8, Sunday 9-6

Santa and Mrs. Claus visit:

Saturday, Dec 5:  10-3; Sunday Dec. 6: 11-3; Sunday, Dec 13: 11-3

Petting Zoo:

Saturday, Dec 5: 11-2

Kids Crafts & Activities:

Saturday, Dec. 5: 10-3

Here are a few pictures from last year:163 171 177


Planting for Butterflies

This spring, a large amount of our kids’ time has been spent trying to catch backyard wildlife to bring inside as “pets”.  Currently in my backyard I have four “traps”.  We hung a bird feeder, which is currently populated by sparrows.  I’m not sure how long it takes for word to travel amongst the sparrow population, but eventually they may figure out that each time they land for a snack, two eager preschoolers come running out the door to try to grab them.  I have an ant trap on the patio.  Not an ant-trap filled with poison, but rather a welcoming home for them made from a sandwich container, and filled with rocks.  A similar ladybug home sits nearby, but filled with dust from last year’s sidewalk chalk remnants (because of course that’s appealing to ladybugs!).  There is a worm farm on the deck (from April’s Young Gardeners’ workshop).  There are old carrots lying around, which I am under strict instructions are for the bunny, who we will (apparently) catch and bring inside.  However, all the efforts to attract wildlife to the yard are not just the kids’.  I also have made a contribution, in the form of a butterfly planter. I’m not about to advocate feeding the neighbourhood bunnies with your leftover veggies, but making an area of your garden attractive to butterflies is much less damaging to the other plants in your yard.

butterfly with caterpillar

Butterfly planters or gardens need to be in full sun, and may contain a variety of trees/shrubs, annuals and perennials.  The plants can reflect the needs of either the caterpillars, or butterflies or both!

Plants that caterpillars love: blueberries, cabbage, cherries, dill, hops, grasses & sedges, milkweed, parsley, pussy-toes, sunflowers, violets, wild mustard, and wild plums

Plants that butterflies love:

Annuals: ageratum, alyssum, butterfly weed, cosmos, dianthus, geranium, heliotrope, impatiens, lobelia, marigold, milkweed, nasturtiums, petunia, salvia, verbena, zinnia

Perennials:  asclepias (butterfly weed) asters, black eyed susan, coneflower, daylily, gaillardia, goldenrod, lavender, monarda, sunflower, wild bergamot

Trees & Shrubs:  chokecherry, crabapple, lilac, honeysuckle


When attracting butterflies to your yard, you can also include some homemade butterfly nectar, and food.  Butterflies love rotting fruit, especially bananas.  If leaving fruit out, remember to replace it once it dries out, or becomes mouldy.

Homemade Butterfly Nectar:

Mix 10 parts water with 1 part sugar, boil for 2 minutes.
Let cool and place in a shallow container (like a plant saucer).
Add a paper towel, saturated in the mixture, or a bright orange/yellow scrub pad.  The bright colour will help attract them, and provide a place for them to rest on.
The saucer can be placed amongst flowers, or on a post, or table nearby.
Extra solution can be stored in the fridge, and used to replenish the saucer as needed.


Once you’ve made your planter, sit back and watch carefully and patiently for the butterflies to arrive. And if you are so inclined, feed the bunnies, trap the ants and ladybugs while you’re at it!

Spring Kick-off


This morning as I walked out my front door, past my sad empty planters, and into the bright morning sunshine, I made a decision.  This is the year I’m going to gamble.  I’m going to plant at least a planter or two this weekend.  The last year we had a warm April, I debated planting early and did not, out of fear of frost.  My neighbour did plant early and his tomatoes were safe.

I’m not going to plant in the ground just yet, but planters can be easily moved inside if necessary, and maybe just maybe they won’t need to be!  There’s no hard-and-fast rule as to when to plant and when its safe; there are so many “rules”:  . . . May Long weekend, or the first moon in June, after the last frost.  However, there is no “garden police” that will come and tell me that I’ve planted incorrectly, so I’m going to try it!

The added benefit of planting early will be that all the beautiful, new, unique plants will still be plentiful. Come by this weekend to check them out, and while you’re here, grab a hotdog and make a donation as a part of our annual charity kick-off BBQ!  In addition to the BBQ, as always there will be great kids activities, and tons of beautiful inspiration to see!

Pumpkin Carving Ideas

In preparation for all the pumpkin-carving fun that’s coming up this weekend at our pumpkin party, and next weekend for Halloween, here’s some fresh ideas!

Last fall, I blogged about all the crazy ways people are carving pumpkins these days, and how I usually end up with a traditional triangle-eyed, toothy-mouthed jack-o-lantern.  Well, this year I’ve done it again.  A spare couple of minutes spent on Pinterest have inspired me to attempt something a little more adventurous this year. To make sure that I follow through, I’ve enlisted my secret weapon: I showed my 4-year old daughter my plan for one of our pumpkins.   I try not to use this technique to often, because it is sometime just TOO effective!

Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that this will be quite achievable, with a little bit of glitter glue, and not too much intricate carving!

Of course, however there are countless other options for carving out there, this is another one that would be a definite winner in our house:


No-carve pumpkins are becoming more and more popular, and it certainly opens up a whole world of possibilities of what to do (with more than just pumpkins!)


If you’re still looking for ideas, check out these150 ideas for pumpkin-decorating, and here are some basic (and achieveable) carving templates:

Highlights from Kids Club: Chlorophyll and Pumpkin Power


This month’s Kids Club explained what Clorophyll is and why it is important for plants to have light to grow.

Chlorophyll is a pigment that makes plants look green.  Plant leaves also have Xanthophyll and Carotene, which makes leaves yellow and red.  When the days get shorter in the fall, plant leaves don’t get as much sunlight, and the Chlorophyll fades.  Xanthophyll and Carotene do not fade the same way, which is why leaves change colour in the fall.

Here’s the experiment we used to show the different colours; you can try it at home again!


3 leaves (from the same tree)

Rubbing Alcohol


Plastic baggie (or plastic wrap)

Paper Coffee Filter

Small bowl or pan


1.  Have your child break the leaves into tiny pieces and put in the jar

2.  Pour rubbing alcohol over the leaves until they are just covered

3.  Mash and stir the leaves into the rubbing alcohol until the alcohol turns slightly green.  Really give it a good mashing – this is key.

4.  Cover the jar with the baggie or plastic wrap and place the jar in a small bowl and pour hot water into the bowl.

5.  Leave the jar in the water for 30 minutes, swishing the jar occasionally to stir the leaves a bit.  The alcohol should be a very dark green (leave longer if needed).  If you can resist, wait even 45 minutes or an hour.

6.  Cut a strip in the coffee filter so the strip can reach the rubbing alcohol.  Place it in the jar. (You can also just cut a strip off the coffee filter and tape it to the edge of the jar)

7.  The liquid will travel up the coffee filter and the colours will separate as the alcohol evaporates off the coffee filter.  Let this happen for about an hour for the full effect.  The leaves we used turn to a beautiful yellow in autumn.



Plants need sunlight to make chlorophyll, and will grow towards the sun, even if they have to grow around obstacles.  Here’s another experiment to try at home:

The Runner Bean will grow through the maze to the top of the box, in order to get the most sun they can!


When we were small, my mom had a magnet on her fridge that said “cleaning the house when kids are still growing, is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing”.  I imagine that most parents of young kids are as relieved as I am when its summertime, and that much of playtime can move outside.  We have a son and a daughter, and both of them love playing outside in the yard, and “helping” with yardwork. Being outside definitely helps keep the house less chaotic, but outdoor time has its challenges as well.

One of our favourite features of our yard has always been our pond.  We’ve had all sorts of pond plants and flowers.  We had 8 koi donated by a neighbour, that resulted at least 20 babies the next summer.  We’ve had lots of different kinds of frogs stop by, a few geese, and once even a turtle! For a little tiny pond, it has definitely been a hub of activity.  However, our daughter loves to play “queen of the castle” on the rocks, and our son now crawls everywhere, so we had to reevaluate our priorities.  Last week, the pond was filled in, and the rocks carted away.  We were left with an 8 foot by 8 foot area of empty space.  We discussed all our options of what to do with this space.  A tree?  A vegetable garden?  A rose garden? The idea that carried the day is very reflective of our current needs, and we are the proud new owners of a gigantic sandbox! We’re fortunate, in that there are two playgrounds within easy walking distance of us, so we haven’t installed a play structure of any kind.  We have added lots of fun “décor” which just enhances the “fun-factor” of our yard.

Aside from all the toys that are generally scattered throughout, both kids seem to like helping out in their own way.  Our son likes to help ….. thin the grass (he’s not even a year old, he just likes to pull out handfuls), and our daughter is very diligent at watering her special planters. I know that it is not just these two who love to help out, learn, and play outside.  At Lacoste we have an enthusiastic young gardeners club, which is always growing! We’ve taken a break for July and August, but come September 14th, they’ll be meeting monthly until Christmas!