Monday, March 16, 2015

To Catch a Mouse...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I opened the car door, glanced at the back deck, tossed my purse onto the seat, and pulled the seat-belt loose from the booster.

“WAIT!!!” I shouted as the six-year-old began to make her way into the vehicle.

“Oh, crap,” I continued, “not again.” 

The turds were everywhere. On the floor. On the back seat. In my daughter’s booster chair. On the front dash. In the cup holders. In the door pockets.

Everywhere I looked there were tiny little shits.

Every. Where.


It wasn’t my first time discovering rodent poo in the car and so I went into full-on Fixer mode. I began removing the reusable grocery bags from the back of the automobile. And by removing, I mean I threw those suckers clear across the driveway in case one or more poop machines might be hiding out inside one of our President’s Choice sacks.

Meanwhile, Jan – who had been watching from the house – joined me until it looked like the car had thrown up on the gravel.

Twice.

Unfortunately, we were in hurry and so – after a quick shake of the booster chair – Jan, the kiddo and I left the pile of canvas sacks on the ground and drove to town with our pants securely bunched up in our socks, our hair tightly tucked into our hats and our eyes open emoji-wide.

 
The first time I found evidence of mice in the car, I had accused Geoff of being careless with his bike bag. The second time, I blamed the farm where we pick up our produce in the summertime. Where this latest little fellow (or fellows) came from was anyone’s best guess but the fact remained… we needed to extricate him (them).

I won’t lie. Although I’ve never physically dumped dead vermin into the ditch next to the driveway, I have been “involved" in the murder of a fair number of mice. (In our family I’m known as the squeamish accomplice.) But - and this is a big but - I’ve NEVER shared the details with my daughter who believes that whenever we catch a mouse, we set it free.

What? The kid LOVES animals. All animals. Even especially rodents.

We once nursed an adorable, abandoned baby field mouse back to health.


Unfortunately, he died five days later. From his appearance on day 4, we could have known the end was near, but to be fair, none of us are veterinarians.


And, we own a hamster. He is healthier than he looks and yes, those are mighty big balls. It's a curse of all black bear hamsters.

 
In any case, a hamster is a rodent which makes him a cousin to the victims who infest our car. You wanna tell the six-year-old the truth? I didn't think so.

Under normal circumstances, we would bait a snap trap, place it in the car, let the mouse do it’s thing and dispose of the remains without the kiddo having any knowledge of the barbarity. But on this day, my child had a request. She wanted to see the mouse before we set it free.

She wanted to SEE IT.

Since we weren’t quite ready to confess to previous homicides, and seeing as how we were in town, Jan popped into the hardware store to procure a couple of wildly expensive catch and hold/release mousetraps designed to trap multiple mice at once. MULTIPLE MICE.


Then she and the kid went into the grocery store – pants still tucked into socks - leaving me to figure out the complicated plastic contraption while desperately trying not to hear the rustles, scuttles and scratches coming from the back of the car.

The concept was simple. Slide the trap open. Set the bait. Slide the trap shut. Presumably the mouse would be so tempted that he would crawl through the one-way gravity-activated door, thus trapping him - temporarily - in a temple of protein, until we happily released him into the wilderness.

Like so.


Unlike the video demo, we had to force the hell out of the sliding panels, just to pry them open enough to toss in pieces of Mini Babybel cheese. We had no idea how we would ever get a mouse – or the cheese - out of that trap.

We placed a loaded snare on the back deck of the car and one on the floor. Then we drove home.


Once there, we checked the traps religiously – as in, every several hours. Because the instructions said we should. But then it got cold outside. Siberia cold. And that’s when we stopped leaving the house.

One half a day and one full night later, Jan walked out to check the car.
 
The mouse was much smaller than we expected him to be. In fact, he was so pint-sized we almost didn’t see him. Also, who makes a mouse trap out of opaque, smoky grey plastic? Who can hell see through that stuff? Seriously.

The level of moisture inside of the trap led us to believe that the mouse had probably been in there since we had first baited it, the previous morning. It was then that we remembered the words of the manufacturer.




The poor little guy wasn’t moving because, of course he wasn’t. After all, it was minus 36 degrees outside and the well-meaning, yet negligent women who provided the cheese had misunderstood the concept of the word humane. This was not how this was supposed to go down. This was not at all like the online reviews said it would be.



Clearly "Bill" and "JAB" were better at checking their traps than we were.

Nevertheless, we brought the contraption inside and placed it in front of the fireplace - in the event of a miracle - much to the delight of the six-year-old.

I dare you to see a mouse.


Is he alive? 

Um… of course!

Can I see him?

Uh… in a minute.

What’s that slimy stuff all over the inside of the trap?

Cheese. Probably.

What’s that smell?

Cheese.

Can I take him out now?

Not right now. He’s sleeping.

We all piled into the car to drive our mouse somewhere away from the house - as per the manufacturer's instructions. But Jan and I both knew there was no way that little fella was making his way back to anywhere - what with him happily scurrying around in the afterlife - so instead of driving two miles away, we drove around the corner.

At our destination, Jan carried the critter to his final resting place, taking care not to vomit from the stench.


Then, she pried the plastic lid open and laid the little bugger on the ground while the kiddo said, "see you later mousie" and walked away, completely satisfied that we had just transported a sleeping mouse from our car to our neighbour's yard.


Meanwhile, Jan and I resolved to never make an attempt at being humane again. Ever.


Poor wee dead mouse. And yes, we let him go at the base of our neighbor’s summer cottage. He was stiff. What damage could he do?

 No, really.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The luck of the Irish

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Rainbows make me happy. Nature as a whole is pretty magical but rainbows are at (or near) the top of my "holy crap, look what Mother Nature just did" list. They are also a kind and colorful reminder that winter does not last forever.

This week on The Art of Childhood, I show you how to bring a little rainbow into your home, in preparation for St. Patrick's Day. Or as I like to call it, Thank-God-It's-Almost-Spring-Again Day.


Read it here: DIY Rainbow Shamrock Garlands

http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/andrea-mulder-slater-the-art-of-childhood/20150311/diy-st-patricks-day-party-decor


Friday, March 6, 2015

Get married with Minted

by Andrea Mulder-Slater


A criminal court judge married my husband and I. It was his first – and likely his only – wedding. His chambers were large and dark with lots of wood paneling, big leather chairs and an endless array of sports paraphernalia including a number of bobble head baseball dolls.

Geoff and I hadn’t planned on being wed this way. Although we did know we wanted a “civil ceremony” rather than a fancy event sprinkled with bells and whistles. We often joked that the two of us shared a fear of microphones, flower girls, and tiny pieces of fruitcake wrapped up in tin foil. However, when we decided to get married, it just so happened that half of the city’s populace was keen to get hitched in city hall. We were faced with a decision; wait 10 months as names were crossed off a list, or, find another way. That’s where the criminal court judge (a family acquaintance) came in.

A few weeks after we arrived home from a brief honeymoon in Algonquin Park, Geoff and I hosted a small garden party at our house, for close friends and relatives. The invitations I sent out were sad – at best – with the words “Guess What? They Did It!” emblazoned on the front. I designed them myself using an old version of Print Shop on a PC running an out-of-date version of Windows.

Boy do I ever wish Minted existed back when I got married. It would have made my post-wedding invitations look a lot less last minute and much (much) more refined. And pretty. I mean, just because I didn't want a big wedding didn't mean I didn't want to celebrate the date.

For those who don't know, Minted is an online company offering a gorgeous and select assortment of fully customizable wedding invitations, art for your walls and greeting cards, all sourced through a global community of indie designers. Indie designers!

Here's a sample of some of my favorite wedding invitations...

I love the soft colors and natural feel of this Rustic Charm invitation by Hooray Creative. It would have worked well for my post-wedding garden party. 


This Floral Chalkboard wedding invitation by Kristie Kern is appealing on many fronts. I love the contrast between the bright bold flowers against the chalkboard background.


Speaking of chalkboards, is this Slated Forever wedding invitation by GeekInk Design on trend or what?


If Geoff and I hadn't both been starving artists, we *may* have entertained the thought of being married in some exotic locale. And if we did, I would have chosen these Retro Hawaii wedding invitations by Gakemi Art+Design. I can just hear the waves crashing against the shore.


But ultimately, we're a pretty casual couple and so this Gettin' Hitched wedding invitation (another Hooray Creative design) would have fit right in with our personalities.


Did I mention that all of these invitations come with different backer options, cool liners and labels, FREE recipient addressing and your choice of envelopes? Because they all do.



And then there's the Minibook wedding invitations, like this one (hello Hooray Creative) which allows you to customize seven pages of text and photos. Customizable because the chances of you being a Laura and him being a Brad and the two of you looking like the two of them is pretty remote. But, how cool is that?


And, if you're not ready to "commit" just yet, Minted will give you the opportunity to test the waters with a Wedding Invitation Sample Pack where you can see and feel the luxurious papers and bold printing, for FREE. But only for a limited time - so get moving!

I love Minted – for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they work with independent creators. As an artist, I ADORE this. They believe that great design lives and thrives in the hands of independent artists who the general public wouldn’t normally have access to through traditional retailers. Minted is a place where artists can learn, gain exposure, and build their businesses. And, not only do the artists benefit, but consumers win too!

You can search for what you want by color, theme, season and shape. You can even pick a custom color! And, if you need additional help, Minted's designers are there to assist you. Honestly. Getting hitched couldn't be easier. Also, if you - like me - want to have a small ceremony and let people know about it after the fact, you can do that too, with the help of Minted's Wedding Announcements, like this one by Cadence Paige Design.

 
And then there's the Art Marketplace where you can find beautiful works of art on paper (which you can purchase framed or unframed) for every room in your home - including the kids' room and the nursery. Here are a few of my current favorites.

 
Grazing by Lindsay Megahed reminds me of the farms on the rural route where I grew up.


 Rinse and Repeat by Susie Allen makes me think of shorelines peppered with pebbles.


Tempestuous Seas by Gill Eggleston Design is lovely because... the OCEAN.

Really, you could spend hours - days even - browsing through the amazing stationary, art and home decor (and more) on Minted and the best part is, if you spot something you like, chances are you can afford it! Also, by purchasing an invitation or work of art from Minted, you will be supporting independent artists from around the world. And that (unlike my rushed nuptials) is a classy thing.




I was asked by Minted to check out their products and write an honest review. In exchange, I was given a gift certificate towards Minted's products. All opinions are completely my own.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Growing Creative Kids

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Did you know that by letting your kids get dirty, you're actually helping them work on their creativity skills?

This week on The Art of Childhood, I share twenty ways to nurture your child's creativity.  Guess what? It's easier than you think! And yes, there's more involved than just mud.


Read it here: 20 Ways to Nurture Your Kid's Creativity

http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/andrea-mulder-slater-the-art-of-childhood/20150219/nurture-kids-creativity




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Easy Retro Valentines

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Remember making doily Valentines when you were a kid? They were fun, easy and looked so sweet with all that paste - which never, ever dried - hanging off of the edges because you used waaaaay too much. Every. Single. Time.

This week on The Art of Childhood, I take you back in time as I show you how to make some groovy Valentines with very little effort. And even less glue.



Read it here: Groovy Vintage Valentines Your Kids Can Craft Themselves

http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/andrea-mulder-slater-the-art-of-childhood/20150211/the-easiest-valentines-youll-never-make


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