Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Moon Phases

I am intrigued by the moon.  Last night I was laying in bed, and I looked over out my east window to see the moon glowing in perfect view.  It dawned on me that the moon and its phases would be great for teaching the kids for a fun science class.

There are 29.5305882 days in the moon cycle, according to the astronomer at The Franklin Institute .   The moon controls the waves...more on that coming up below. 

We just had our Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to Autumn Equinox. On the night of the Equinox, the moon was at a 99% Waxing Gibbous, which is just about full. (many people thought the moon was full, but it was actually not 100 percent full until September 23 at 5:18 A.M.   (AM?  Yes!  read on...)

First I want you to watch a video of the moon's phases.

The moon's phases explained by the astronomer from The Franklin Institute.
Moon Phases

The new moon always rises at sunrise.
The first quarter always rises at noon.
The full moon always rises at sunset.
The last quarter always rises at midnight.

For each day following the above, the moon will rise about fifty minutes later than the previous day.

Waxing - from new to full (growing)
Waning- from full to new (shrinking)

Blue Moon

My favorite moon is The Blue Moon...why, because that is when I clean!  Just kidding, I don't clean that often!
A blue moon can refer to the third full moon in a season with four full moons, or the second full moon of a calendar month.

  • The Farmers' Almanac defined blue moon as an extra full moon that occurred in a season; one season was normally three full moons. If a season had four full moons, then the third full moon was named a blue moon.
  • Recent popular usage defined a blue moon as the second full moon in a calendar month, stemming from an interpretation error made in 1946 that was discovered in 1999For example, December 31, 2009 was a blue moon according to this usage.
A "blue moon" is also used colloquially to mean "a rare event", reflected in the phrase "once in a blue moon

I got this info below at this site

What are the Phases of the Moon?

8 Phases of the Moon

1. New Moon
2. Waxing Crescent
3. Waxing Quater (First Quater)
4. Waxing Gibbous
5. Full Moon
6. Wanning Gobious
7. Wanning Quater (Last Quater)
8. Wanning Crescent

Here is another great site for information on the Moon...   More info

As you know, when reseaching anything, you can easily be redirected toward another learning I did here, from moon to ocean!

The Ocean's Tides Explained

Almost everyone is aware of the role that gravity plays in our lives. Not only does it keep our feet planted firmly on the ground, but it also keeps order in the solar system. The gravitational forces associated with the Sun and the planets interact to describe the orbits that we are familiar with, as well as keep the Moon trapped in orbit around the Earth. These forces aren't only limited to managing the dynamics of the celestial bodies, however. Gravity also has a more directly observable influence on our planet. Specifically, gravitational forces are responsible for the rise and fall of the ocean's tides all over the world.

The two primary agents when it comes to the motion of the ocean are the Sun and the Moon. Since the gravitational influence of an object is directly related to its mass, the Sun has a definite advantage over the moon when it comes to the strength of its forces. However, since the Sun is over 380 times farther away from the Earth than the Moon, the smaller mass in orbit around us is able to exert its effects on us much more strongly than the star.

The key when it comes to understanding how the tides work is to understand the relationship between the motion of our planet and its moon. Both the Moon and the Earth are constantly moving through space. Since the Earth spins on its own axis, water is kept balanced on all sides of the planet through centrifugal force. The Moon's gravitational forces are strong enough to disrupt this balance by accelerating the water towards the Moon. This causes the water to 'bulge.' The Earth's rotation causes a sympathetic bulge on the opposite side of the planet as well. The areas of the Earth where the bulging occurs experience high tide, and the others are subject to a low tide. However, the Moon's movement around the Earth means that the effects of its forces are in motion as well, and as it encircles our planet, this bulge moves with it.

The height of the tides can vary during the course of a month, due to the fact that the Moon is not always the same distance from the Earth. As the Moon's orbit brings it in closer proximity to our planet (closest distance within a moon cycle is called perigee), its gravitational forces can increase by almost 50%, and this stronger force leads to high tides. Likewise, when the Moon is farther away from the Earth (furthest distance is called apogee), the tides are not as spectacular.

The Moon's influence can also be balanced out by the position of the Sun – if the Sun and the Moon find themselves 90 degrees apart in relation to an observer on the Earth, then high tides are not as high as they normally would be. This is because despite its greater distance from the planet, the Sun's mass allows it to exert enough gravitational force on the oceans that it can negate some of the effects of the Moon's pull. This phenomenon of lower high tides is called a neap tide. In the same way, when the Sun lines up with the Moon and the Earth, as during a Full Moon, then the Sun can act to amplify the tidal forces, drawing even higher tides. These are known as spring tides, named not for the season, but for the fact that the water "springs" higher than normal. The variance in the height of the world's tides also depends on the local geography of the coastline and the topography of the ocean floor.

Tides occur regularly in the sense that they can be expected twice a day, but their periods do not coincide with the 24 hour day that we use for our calendar. This is because the Moon takes slightly longer than 24 hours to line up again exactly with the same point on the Earth - about 50 minutes more. Therefore, the timing of high tides is staggered throughout the course of a month, with each tide commencing approximately 24 hours and 50 minutes later than the one before it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Exercise used to be called Play

Remember when we used to call exercise, PLAY.  Many of us change our view of exercise and it seems like work.  If you aren't enjoying your workout, it may be time for a change.

We have been told, you start to get old when you stop playing.  Get outside and play...with your spouse, your kids, grandkids, or just with a friend.

Go for a run (chase each other around), play kick the can or spud. Duck, duck goose... Climb on the monkey bars, play some wiffleball, kickball, or dodgeball. Even walking is a great start.  Walking at a slow stroll does not count as exercise though, you have to move, fast! 

Why do we stop playing?  Sure, we have full time jobs and responsibility...but as a kid, we had school, homework and chores.  What changed?  Chances are, if you stopped playing, you are struggling with your weight, and if you never played these games as a kid, you probably were struggling with your weight long ago.

Get outside, ride your bike (on hilly trails), play some tennis, run through the rain....get moving!   You create your own destiny.  You can't blame it on anyone else if you are unhappy in your skin.  Why not make it fun and play some 'playground games'.

  If you come home and think that you are too tired, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Change your thoughts to positive thoughts.  Turn on some uplifting music...whether that be country music or rock, or hip hop..whatever gets your mood up and your blood pumping!

Kick the Can

More games kids play 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

Just some pictures I took at the Pa Ren Faire. Unfortunately, my blogger won't allow me to post them large for some reason, but if you click on the pics, they will enlarge for you to view.

This Herb Garden is probably my favorite thing at the Faire. This past year, when we visited, this fairie was not in the garden :(
I always get great neat ideas for my Herb Garden here.  I took all of these pics.
This gal was so neat!  Enlarge this pic to get a look at her costume! 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Free Lessons and Lesson Plans

A&E Classroom features informative commercial-free programming that can be used as a teaching resource in the classroom. A&E Classroom programming airs on the first Wednesday of each month at 4am/3c.

You can set your DVR and record them for use in your homeschooling or just for extra learning for kids.

You can watch some of them online too.

The lesson today on there is called Ur Life Online...its about teens and internet security.   It talks about cyberbullying and what to do about it. Great program for teens to watch.

They have classroom materials to download, for asking questions after your kids have watched. 

I use A&E, History, Biography, and National Geographic Channels in our homeschool often, because it not only teaches the kids, but it makes learning fun.  The kids don't always know they are learning when watching it, and I often catch them watching it outside of our school lessons, for their own entertainment.

There are lessons on Huffing, Some other upcoming lessons are The History of Halloween,  Selma Hakel, How the States Got Their Shapes, Clash of the Gods: Odysseus, Curse of the Sea,  and Constitution Week.

A&E has a place to sign up for a book I get called, The Idea Book For Educators.  Its free and they send you upcoming lessons that are coming on, with some classroom questions to drill the kids after watching the programs. You can sign up for it on this page below.
It offers, curriculum links, vocabulary, discussion questions, extended activities, websites and books. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Horseradish is a cancer fighter!

I just read a great article on Real Age about Horseradish and wanted to share it.  I love everything from the cruciferous family! 

Here's their article.  Visit their site for more great health info.  They have a wonderful newsletter that they send out for free with some great health info! 

If the only reason you eat horseradish is to add some kick to your sandwich, you may want to find a few more uses.
Turns out that horseradish -- like its cruciferous kin broccoli -- is a potent source of a group of cancer-fighting compounds known as glucosinolates.
All in the Family
Even though they look and taste nothing alike, broccoli and horseradish are both members of the cruciferous -- or Brassica -- vegetable family that also includes brussels sprouts, cauliflower, arugula, watercress, and wasabi, to name a few. When we chew or chop up veggies like these, a beneficial chain reaction occurs. First, glucosinolates come pouring out. Then, the glucosinolates are broken down by another plant enzyme called myrosinase. That process turns the glucosinolates into potent cancer-fighting phytochemicals known as isothiocyanates and indoles. Ahhh, healthier living through plant chemistry. (Here's more on the health benefits of the Brassica vegetable family.)

A Phytochemical Festival
Phytochemicals such as indoles and isothiocyanates combat cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of your body before they do damage to your DNA. These compounds also help cut the between-cell lines of communication that can sometimes lead to cancer, and they help block the action of cancer-causing hormones. No wonder studies show that people who eat more cruciferous vegetables have less cancer! (Try this cancer-fighting cousin of horseradish.)

Take horseradish to a whole new level in your diet by adding these tangy recipes to the menu:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Local PA Residents, Day Trip Idea

I saw this in the Fish Wrapper. (We love this publication)
They are having an open house at little mountain printing, where they publish the fish wrapper.
July 28, 29, 30 3-8 pm
self guided tour, learn how the Fish Wrapper is produced, enjoy printing demonstrations, visit the showroom and 15 thousand square foot facility.
234 Rosebud Rd Myerstown, PA
They ask that your register by July 23rd 717-268-4038
Just wanted to pass it on in case anyone is interested.  Might be a nice day trip for something to do in the summer.  Maybe stop off someplace else in Myerstown too. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010


 I got this from a friend and wanted to share, keep it going.  Copy and paste or link to here to your loved ones!  Have a safe summer!
The new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. 
“We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”
How did this captain know, from fifty feet away, what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.
The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D.,  is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water.  And it does not look like most people expect.  There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind.  To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this:  It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult.  In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).  Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:
  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue.  They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.
Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are n the water:
  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.
So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. – don’t be too sure.  Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning.  They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck.  One  way to be sure?  Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are.  If they return  a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.  And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nutritionist vs Registered Dietitian

This is a great blog article I found on the difference between a nutritionist and a registered dietitian.  The picture that is posted on the blog shows a dog with a certificate, classifying him as a nutritionist.  Anyone can claim to be a nutritionist...No education or experience was needed to apply for this certificate.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a nutritionist and a dietitian? To put it simply, a nutritionist has no concrete definition, while a dietitian has credentials to go with the term. Any person working in a health food store or otherwise can call themselves a nutritionist.

A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a credential just like a Registered Nurse (RN) or Medical Doctor (MD). To become a Registered Dietitian you must:

  1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree in dietetics, a 4 year degree from an accredited college or university
  2. Complete an internship with at least 900 hours
  3. Take and pass the RD exam
  4. Complete 50 Continuing Education Credits every 5 years to maintain license.

To earn a Bachelor's Degree, Registered Dietitians study food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociology, communications, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, anatomy and chemistry.

A Registered Dietitian is knowledgeable in the science of nutrition. They learn how to interpret research studies and apply that knowledge to counseling individuals on how to improve their lifestyle and health. He or she is able to look at your medical history, current symptoms, medications, supplements, exercise routine, weight, and eating habits and give advice that is safe and effective for you to reach your goals.

A nutritionist may or may not have the credentials of a Registered Dietitian. An RD is the authority on nutrition in the US. If you are looking for someone to help you with your diet and aren't sure if the person you find is credentialed, ask them if they are an RD and to see their credentials. Some nutritionist claim they have credentials, but if he or she is not an RD then their credentials are not backed by science, education, and experience like they would be if they were an RD.

The picture on this blog is of Connie Diekman, the current President of the American Dietetic Association with her dog, Eddie, who has a certificate calling him a nutritionist from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. No education or experience was needed to apply for this certificate.

To find a Registered Dietitian, in your area, visit

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Write Yourself Sane


I find an article that might not only help kids grow academically and emotionally, but also adults!

How to Write Yourself Sane

By Michelle Vermillion Lawrence, eHow Contributing Writer
(61 Ratings)

Write Yourself Sane
Write Yourself Sane
How to Write Yourself Sane
The power of the pen has been known for years. In the 1800s Lord Byron wrote, "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad." Diaries and journals have been kept for centuries, but it wasn't until the 1960s that the therapeutic value of journal writing was recognized. After studying at the C.G. Jung from the New School for Social Research in New York City, psychologist Ira Progoff began holding workshops called the Intensive Journal method, which helped clients to heal psychologically by writing about their life experiences.

Writing as a therapeutic outlet continues today to offer healing and solace for those willing to delve into their own psyche. In the Academy Award nominated movie "Precious," an abused 16-year-old sorts through her life's trauma at the urging of a teacher to write down her pain, feelings and abuse. Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire, "Precious" wields a heart-wrenching truthful conclusion: writing nourishes the soul and powers from within.

Writing is not only for mental clarity; it also offers physical health. Researcher James Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, found benefits to the immune system for individuals who wrote for just 20 minutes per day over three or four days on a topic that is emotionally difficult. Pennebaker's studies indicate that the release offered by writing has a direct impact on the body's capacity to withstand stress and fight off infection and disease. After the publication of Pennebaker's studies, the medical and counseling fields began looking at journal writing as a non-medicinal approach to wellness.

Writing also appears to help students grow academically. In the 1980s, public schools began using journals to encourage students to ponder academic questions as a way to improve independent thinking skills. While the students benefit from committing their thoughts to paper, teachers use the journals as a means to help students academically or emotionally on an individual basis.

Writing is a powerful tool--tap into its benefits.

Difficulty: Moderate

  1. Step 1
    Write to release pain or express joy.

    Use writing as a way to release your feelings, both current or in the past. If suffering from a past traumatic event, it may be useful to consult with a therapist who can help guide your writing for focused, effective results. If journaling on your own, you can start to write what ails you by completing sentences such as: "It hurts when..." or "It makes me angry when..." or "I feel... when..."

    Writing is also a way to share with yourself the joys of living. Expressing gratitude, happiness, love or elation about your daily happenings or special events is just as important as writing to heal.

    Whether it is to release pain or express happiness, writing validates your feelings regarding the events of your life.

  2. Step 2
    Set aside time to write.

    Setting aside a small amount of time each day helps establish the routine of writing. Use writing to start your day, setting down goals or ideas, or in the evening to offer closure to your day. Research shows that continued writing about a particular issue offers improved health, release of stress and resistance to certain diseases.

    However, remember this is an exercise in forgiveness and acceptance of self, so don't get down on yourself if you don't write every day. Keeping a journal can help you get through a difficult time such as the death of a loved one; to document an important part of your life, such as a pregnancy; or simply to record the daily happenings of your existence. You can start writing today, stop writing tomorrow and the pick up writing again when it suits you. Writing is not meant to be another item on your "to do" list, but rather an investment in yourself--an investment in which you reap the rewards.

  3. Step 3
    Resist the urge to be afraid of your feelings.

    Starting to write about your feelings may be the most difficult first step to take. Having feelings of embarrassment, shame, anger or lust can be uncomfortable, but watching these words being jotted down on paper or being typed across the computer screen can suddenly feel as if your giving them life. Breathe! Clarity comes from making sense of these feelings. The mind is at rest when there is understanding to your thoughts. These words or entries are for your eyes and heart only. You control who sees them. Take measures to safeguard your writing if you feel your privacy is threatened. Writing allows you to make connections between your experience, your past and your future. Writing is your perception of your world.

  4. Step 4
    Find focus in your writing.

    Once you have been writing for awhile, reread your entries. Do you notice any patterns? Does a certain person seem to aggravate you or give you joy? Do certain situations bring stress or happiness? Your writing is a peek in to the inner you. Writing allows the unedited version of your life to appear; the feelings you have put on paper are not right or wrong. They are an acknowledgment of your humanity in any given situation. Once you have acknowledged who you are by rereading your writing, you can take steps to have more of those happy days and brainstorm ways to better handle the not-so-good times. Remember, writing offers acceptance for all of you. You're a work in progress; be kind and gentle to your growing soul.

  5. Step 5
    Decide what you will do with your writing.

    You can keep your entries for continued review or purge them. Rereading your entries offers clarity and the opportunity to grow. You may be amazed to see how your opinion or feelings about a particular issue or crisis changes over time. Rereading is for self-acceptance. It offers the opportunity to see where you have come and where you would still like to go.

    Burning, shredding or tearing your writing is another cathartic option. It offers the physical release of any pain, feelings and emotions that have been scrawled across the page. It offers finality and resolution to pain or trauma that you have worked through and no longer wish to carry. That is the beautiful thing about writing--you own it! Let your story flow.

For students too....Free Small Business Billing Software from Kim Komando

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The History Channel : America, The Story of Us

The History Channel is running a Series right now called :  America: The Story of US.

I have to say, I have learned more about history from this, than I learned in school!

This is a must see.  It's on demand on comcast...the first two episodes are falling off the listing on 5-31 but you can view them on the website.  It is much more comfortable to watch in the living room.
If you have a dvr check your listings and record them to watch! They do keep re-airing them but not sure how long it will last on the tv.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Croque Monsieur and Madame, so not "complicated"

The other night, my teenage boys had some friends over, platonic female friends...they wanted to watch an on demand pay movie..."It's Complicated"  Sure, go ahead..wondering what that is about, sounded familiar.  10 mins later, they get a text and all leave...paid movie just going to go to waste, as usual. lol.  So I looked it up to see what it was about...and my husband and I sat eating our salmon with roasted veggies dinner in front of the tv...we laughed, what a great movie (the kids never would have liked it, but had it not been for them, I never would have watched it.)
She made a cute french meal in the movie that looks delish and she said that she made it when she was low on funds.  It was a sort of grilled ham and cheese with cheese on top too, served with a salad.  Croque Monsieur.  I had to have one..its going to be my new thing to make myself when I want a quick meal. (let me tell ya, her pronunciation and the spelling of it were hard to put together to look up lol.
For the record, a Croque Madam is with egg on it.
Recipe follows movie trailer.

Pan down for another few versions...some are more "Complicated"  than others. But all seem pretty easy and fast to make.

Croque Monsieur Sandwich Recipe

Grilled cheese sandwiches can be temperamental. Get them too hot and you can scorch the bread. Not hot enough and the cheese doesn't fully melt.

Using clarified butter helps, because you can get the pan hotter. But even heating is as important as the temperature itself. So unless you have a griddle on your rangetop, it's best to cook one sandwich at a time, in a single pan.

Therefore, this recipe makes one sandwich. If you want to double the recipe and make two sandwiches at once, use two separate pans.

For this recipe you'll also need a small amount of béchamel, a basic white sauce.

Prep Time: 4 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 9 minutes


  • 2 slices white bread
  • 1 Tbsp clarified butter (or unsalted butter), soft
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese (Jarlsberg or Monterey Jack may be substituted. See variations below.)
  • 2 Tbsp béchamel sauce
  • 2 oz. sliced ham (1 slice)


  1. Trim the crusts off of the bread, making the slices as square as possible.
  2. Spread both slices of bread with butter, then flip them over and spread them lightly with Dijon mustard.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cheese and béchamel sauce and mix until the cheese is fully coated.
  4. Spoon the cheese mixture onto the bread, half on each slice, and spread it evenly. Lay the sliced ham atop one of the sandwich halves, then press both halves together. You should now have a sandwich that is buttered on the outside, with a slice of ham between two layers of the cheese mixture.
  5. Spray a bit of cooking spray onto the surface of a nonstick pan. Heat the pan over a medium heat until the oil is hot and glistening but not quite smoking.
  6. Place the sandwich into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the bread is a nice shade of golden-brown.
  7. Use a nonstick spatula to flip the sandwich over. Lower the heat a bit and cover the pan. Cook for another minute or two, or until the second slice of bread is also golden brown and the cheese inside the sandwich is fully melted.
  8. Slice diagonally and serve right away.
  • Muenster, Gouda, Fontina and Comté are good to use instead or in combination with the Gruyère.
  • Substitute sliced cooked chicken breast for ham.
  • Instead of white bread, use sourdough. Leave crusts on.
  • Top finished sandwich with a fried egg to make a Croque Madame, possibly named because the egg resembles a ladies' hat.

Here is Nigella's version of it, in a one dish meal.
Croque Monsieur Bake
  And another version I found..

Croque Monsieur
{recipe via Epicurious}

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
4 slices firm white sandwich bread
4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add nutmeg and bay leaf. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat broiler. Place 2 bread slices on work surface. Top each with half of ham and sliced Gruyère. Top with remaining bread. Heat heavy large skillet over low heat. Brush sandwiches with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Add to skillet and cook until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to small baking sheet. Spoon sauce, then grated cheese over sandwiches. Broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
 Croque Madame
Okay, not this is the same, with a fried egg on top.  Serving this with baby greens is awesome, if you never had the runny egg yolk on baby greens, you must try it!!!
You can so carefully add an egg to the top of the Croque Monsieur and broil it until cooked to your liking..depending on the size of the bread, or even cut a small hole in it for putting the egg.  Serve it over the baby greens. YUM
You can also serve this at breakfast with home-fries or french fries at lunch, but with all of the cheese and egg, butter etc, the lettuce is a wiser and healthier choice. 

Now I need to get an ice cream maker and try to create that Lavender Honey Ice Cream she makes...sounds great..had lavender ice cream once with lavender chocolate cake...first bite was odd, but had to have a second and third really was good.

Some of you who have a baking stone, can make these in the oven, all at once. I like my Pampered Chef stone, avail on my website, but you can find them pretty reasonably priced on Amazon.

My need to gripe....And since Pampered Chef will not allow me to advertise the site that I pay them to have on my blog or anywhere, guess they lose out on the sales.  (as much as I love their products, I am very bitter to them)
If you wish to find my site, go to pamperedchef dot biz backslash margaritastewart  lol.  hehe. If they'd like to take my site away for putting my site on here that way, then so be it...and tootloo PC. Tying our hands on selling the products really ticks me off.

Glowing Duct Tape (A chemistry experiment)

Duck Tape Triboluminescence

Glow in the Dark Duck Tape Experiment

By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., Guide
You can use duck tape to see an example of triboluminescence, the glow given off when some materials are subjected to mechanical stress or friction. The duck tape (or duct tape) triboluminescence project is extremely easy and only take a few seconds to try. It doesn't matter whether you call the tape duck tape or duct tape, but your results seem to depend partially on the brand you use: Henkel™ works well. What You Do
Tear off two strips of tape. Stick the pieces together with the sticky sides facing each other, leaving enough tape so that you can pull the strips apart. Turn out the lights. Give your eyes a minute or two to adjust to the dark. Pull the strips of tape apart.
What Happened
Did you see the blue line where the tape separated? This is triboluminescence, which is a type of luminescence triggered by mechanical energy or electrical energy from an action such as friction. You can get the same effect from other types of tape as well. A good one to try is transparent Scotch™ tape. If you have a hard time separating strips of tape with their sticky sides together, you can see the triboluminescent glow simply by pulling the tape (quickly) off of the roll, thought the light will not be quite as bright.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Identify Snakes, Turtles, Salamanders etc in PA

Here is a great site I found while trying to identify a huge red salamander we saw at my moms house.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Cons and Pros of Food Processing

 I saw this on food monki today and had to laugh.  I eat a diet that is meatless on weekdays...does this count at meatless? lol.  

As a joke, my husband brought it home once and I made it for my kids....go figure, they loved was the last time I made it though lol.


The Cons and Pros of Food Processing


Here is an interesting finding from a recent market study. 1500 consumers across all demographics in the US were surveyed by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and Artemis Strategy Group. The news:
43% of consumers have a negative attitude towards processed foods.
But what exactly is processed food?
And is a processed food bad for you by default?

What you need to know:
Food processing is a set of methods and techniques used to transform raw food ingredients into consumable food. Food processing can be as simple as cutting up some vegetables to prepare a salad, or as complex as manufacturing a Twinkie in multiple processing facility.
From the early days of food processing, the primary goal was to extend the life of a foodstuff, by acting as a preservative. This helped balance humans’ need to eat daily with nature’s trend to provide crops only during certain times of the year. To this day, extending shelf life is one of the most important reasons food manufacturers add so many weird sounding ingredients to products.
One of the first forms of food processing, dating back to BC, was the salting of meats as a means of preservation. Sugar was introduced much later as a preservative for fruit, and thus the jam was born. Keeping food cold, either underground, or by using ice, was an effective, if primitive method of preservation until the ascent of ice boxes and recently electrical refrigeration.
In the early 19th century a new technology was introduced to vacuum bottles of food for French troops. It would lead to the use of tin cans a decade later and thus the canning industry was born.
Pasteurization, another French invention from the mid 19th century, greatly improved the safety of milk and milk products, as well as increasing their shelf life. (Let’s not get into the raw milk debate in this post).
It was only in the industrialized 20th century, and more prominently after World War II, that a third and crucial factor became the driving force behind food processing – convenience. With legions of moms joining the work force, there was less time to toil in the kitchen, and a demand for quick, easy to prepare foods skyrocketed.
Additional benefits of food processing include lower prices to consumers due to the economies of scale of mass manufacturing, increased availability of a wide variety of foods, and a consistency in taste, texture, and mouth feel.
With so many advantages to food processing, one may ask why is almost every other American so bearish on processed foods?
Here are a few reasons:
The further a food product is from its natural form, the less it retains its healthful nutritional properties. Vitamins evaporate, minerals are leached, and fiber is long forgotten.
True, the decrease in nutrients has led to enrichment and fortification, but these add only a small number of nutrients back to a product, where hundreds of others are lost in translation from the original orange to the orange drink in a plastic bottle.
Increasing shelf life requires the use of preservatives, whether natural ones such as salt, or artificial chemicals that have more specific functions (mold inhibitors, bacteria killers, antioxidants, antimicrobial chemicals, etc…).  Some of these preservatives have adverse side affects on some or all human populations.
In order to make food more palatable and attractive, additives are used. Food colorings are a huge category of additives. The color of a food is an important psychological consideration. But in many cases, the color of the processed product is not as bold as expected by the consumer. Take strawberry yogurts. Almost all manufacturers add some sort of coloring, whether a natural red color such as beet juice, a natural but quirky bug juice, or artificial Red #40. Despite studies that have shown correlation between food colorings and cognitive problems in children, the food industry uses them because they are cheaper than natural sources.
And since cost has become a driving factor in consumer consideration, food companies are constantly on the lookout for cheaper manufacturing techniques and cheaper source ingredients. Anything that can be made in a lab is cheaper than a naturally sourced ingredient. Substituting quality ingredients with cheaper or inferior standbys is the only way to keep prices down. Don’t even ask what parts of animal carcasses go into your baloney.
Farm subsidies in the US have made corn and soy products very cheap. Guess what – soy oil and high fructose corn syrup are found in many processed items. They add the fat and sweet components that make so many junk foods tasty to us. Salt is natural and cheap, but excessive consumption causes hypertension and other health problems.
We haven’t talked about processing that takes place before the “ingredients” are harvested (GMO crops, hormones and antibiotics to for livestock, etc..), but these too are affecting the food we eat, in ways that science has yet to get a full grasp of.
What to do at the supermarket:
You know our position – the more you can do to prepare your food from scratch, the better service you’re providing to your family. Buying fresh or frozen produce and whipping up a soup, a salad, or a pasta sauce is not rocket science and does not require hours of kitchen work.
But hey, we’re pragmatists too. Try to find the balance that best works for you. But the nest time you complain about not having enough time to cook, consider how much time you spend watching TV and on Facebook.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Balance an Egg on the Equinox

Balance an Egg on the Equinox

Link to site I found this on above

Balancing an egg on its end is a matter of  skill, not astronomy. (Steve Lewis, Getty Images)Saturday, March 20, 2010 is the vernal equinox, which marks the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Are you familiar with the urban legend that it's easier to balance an egg on end on the equinox than on other days of the year?

Test it and see!

This vernal equinox one of the two times during the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and the spin axis of the Earth points 90 degrees away from the sun. Why should this affect your ability to balance an egg on end? The premise is that aligning the gravitational pull of the Sun with that from the center of the Earth should somehow make it easier to balance any object.

Test the Hypothesis Yourself

Take a carton of eggs and try balancing the eggs on end today. Can you stand any of them up (without resorting to tricks like putting salt under the eggs)? Can you stand eggs on their small ends as well as their large ends? Keep track of your results and repeat the process on the equinox. Do you note any differences? A simple hypothesis to test is: Eggs can only be balanced on-end on the equinox. If you can balance an egg today, you've disproven the hypothesis. It's that easy!

One thing I find neat about egg-balancing is that a balanced egg will hold its position until a vibration knocks it down. How long can you keep an egg standing?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Under cover School Lunch

I can't wait for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. A sneak showing of "Food Revolution" will air Sunday, March 21 at 10 p.m., right after a new "Desperate Housewives."

A teacher in Illinois is eating school lunches for a is her blog.|htmlws-main-n|dl3|link3|

She's fed up. An Illinois teacher is eating school lunches for a year in solidarity with students she believes aren't offered healthy options in the cafeteria.

Blogging anonymously at, the instructor has already suffered a few bellyaches in the name of her endeavor. She began eating -- and documenting with her cell phone camera -- the less-than-appetizing school lunches this January and quickly started gaining thousands of readers per day.

The teacher, who refers to herself as Mrs. Q, told AOL Health that even airplane meals taste better than the ones in the school cafeteria and that she is eating them to prove a point. The children at her school come from low socioeconomic brackets, and she estimates that 98 percent of them eat hot lunches, mostly for free or at low cost. The meals, she said in an e-mail, "are overly processed and contain very little 'real' food," such as fresh fruit.

"I am not a nutritionist. That being said, I became concerned about what the kids were eating because on the surface, the food doesn't appear to be very healthy.

"These are the kids who need the good nutrition," she added. "My students don't have good food models at home. These kids depend on the school for so much, including good nutrition. And if they don't get it, they will develop bad habits and increase our health-care costs in the future."

Nearly one fifth of U.S. children are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and research has cautioned that those kids could have shorter life spans because they are too heavy. Moreover, the obesity epidemic is blamed for the increasing numbers of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a disease historically seen mostly in adults.

rib-b-queFirst Lady Michelle Obama recently took on the issue of school meals as part of her new Let's Move campaign to curb childhood obesity. Some 31 million kids get federally funded lunches at school, and 11 million eat breakfast there, according to the Obama administration. With many kids getting about half their daily calories at school, a goal of the campaign is to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and fat in school meals, and to increase whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Under the proposed Child Nutrition Act, the federal government would allot an additional $1 billion a year for 10 years to help schools improve the nutrition of meals. The program currently costs about $15 billion annually, according to the PTA.

Mrs. Q said she is not affiliated with the Let's Move campaign and was keeping her identity a secret out of concern for her job.

"I'm worried about any possible backlash exposing the school lunches might have for me personally and professionally," she told AOL Health, after agreeing to answer questions anonymously. "I want to continue working and I also don't want to get anyone in trouble."

Mrs. Q has laments the short window kids at her school have to eat. She estimates they have 13 minutes at best, five at worst (after taking into account waiting in line, finding a seat and using the bathroom).

She also worried about the safety of the food -- especially after one inedible peanut butter and jelly graham cracker sandwich kept her in the bathroom all night.

"I'm having more stomachaches these days," she said. "It's not every day, but at least once a week I just don't feel very good."

She added that she has a history of irritable bowel syndrome and couldn't be sure the bellyaches were from the school meals.

"I can't place it," she said. "Keep in mind that I eat organic and healthy outside of work so it's not like I'm suffering. What is hard for me to think about are the kids who rely on the school for the best (or only) meal of the day and they get hot dogs, processed meat products, fruit cups with high-fructose corn syrup, etc."

chicken nuggetsOn her wish list: A salad bar, soups, casseroles, and stir fries, which she told AOL Health could be cost efficient if they're made in bulk. She said yogurt and cottage cheese could make for healthy side dishes, and she would nix tater tots in favor of roasted potatoes. She would also eliminate hot dogs, packaged foods and Styrofoam. On the plus side, she said most bread products at the school already appear to be whole wheat.

Mrs. Q appears to teach at an elementary school. While she described the students there as "pretty young" to AOL Health, she told the blog Small Bites that students eating the meals range from 4 to 11 years old. And though she is eating -- and blogging -- in their interest, the project is causing her some anxiety.

"I feel a lot of guilt and turmoil about what I'm doing here," she wrote on February 18. "I'm waiting for the moment I'm called to the principal's office and let go. I do believe it's a matter of 'when' not 'if' they find out and it's curtains for me and then of course the project.

"I want them to know that the project is not about individuals in one school but about a country full of children who need better food models."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Homeschool Socialization

I read this article a few years ago and saved it in a word document. I just sent it to my sister who is going for her masters degree and is doing a presentation on homeschooling for a project.

Socialization: Homeschooling vs. Schools

By Michael F. Haverluck
May 2, 2007 - It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."

Many homeschoolers share this sentiment when it comes to public schools, believing that the moral relativism, violence, peer pressure, drugs and promiscuity found inside their gates provide an inadequate setting to properly socialize their children.

Yet 92 percent of superintendents believe that home learners are emotionally unstable, deprived of proper social development and too judgmental of the world around them, according to a California study by researcher Dr. Brian Ray .

What makes homeschool socialization such a hot topic?

With approximately 4 million children currently being homeschooled in the U.S., along with a 15- to 20-percent yearly growth rate, many professional educators and school boards are concerned that this exodus will keep funds from entering the public education system.

Many teachers also believe that successful home instruction by uncredentialed parents undermines their expertise and jeopardizes their jobs.

Questions about inadequate socialization are often brought up as a means to disqualify homeschooling as a viable alternative form of education, but are the arguments valid?

A look at the research on this socialization debate shines further light on the issue.

There's no place like home

Why is there such a dichotomy in the socialization experienced between homeschoolers and conventional students? It all has to do with the learning environment.

The National Home Education Research Institute disclosed that the 36 to 54 hours that students spend in school-related weekly activities make peers and adults outside of the home the primary influences in children's lives - not the parents.

Realizing the harm that this constant exposure can produce, especially if it's not countered by involved parenting, most homeschoolers are well aware of their children's need for close one-to-one contact throughout the education process.

Jesus understood the importance of continual intimate contact with His students, as He ate, slept and fellowshipped with His disciples 24 hours a day. It is unlikely that Jesus would have entrusted their training to strangers.

So how do these different settings affect children? Dr. Thomas Smedley believes that homeschoolers have superior socialization skills, and his research supports this claim. He conducted a study in which he administered the Vineyard Adaptive Behavior Scales test to identify mature and well-adapted behaviors in children. Home learners ranked in the 84th percentile, compared to publicly schooled students, who were drastically lower in the 23rd.

Welcome to the real world

Many school socialization advocates argue that homeschooling precludes children from experiencing real life.

Instead of being locked behind school gates in what some would consider an artificial setting characterized by bells, forced silence and age-segregation, homeschoolers frequently extend their everyday classroom to fire departments, hospitals, museums, repair shops, city halls, national parks, churches and colleges, where real community interaction and contacts are made.

Dismantling the stereotype that home learners spend their days isolated from society at kitchen tables with workbooks in hand, NHERI reports that they actually participate in approximately five different social activities outside the home on a regular basis.

Furthermore, researcher Dr. Linda Montgomery found that 78 percent of high school home learners were employed with paying jobs, while a majority engaged in volunteering and community service.

Research presented at the National Christian Home Educators Leadership Conference divulged that homeschool graduates far exceeded their public and private school counterparts in college by ranking the highest in 42 of 63 indicators of collegiate success. They were also ranked as being superior in four out of five achievement categories, including socialization, as they were assessed as being the most charismatic and influential.

Biblical or worldly socialization?

When most home educators and school administrators speak of successful socialization, are they referring to the same thing?

Education researcher Dr. Michael Mitchell found that being popular, aggressively competitive, materialistically driven and self-confident are traits promoted in conventional schools.

His study shows that these campus ideals are discouraged by Christian home educators in favor of building their children's character and dismantling selfish ambitions. Integrity, responsibility, respect for others, trust in God, biblical soundness and an amiable disposition topped the ideal social qualities they desired their youth to embody.

Many Christians who homeschool believe that the greatest socialization their children can have is to be trained to emulate Jesus, who is a servant of man. Home educators examined by Mitchell strive to dismantle any selfish ambitions and self-aggrandizement seen in their children, as opposed to cultivating them.

Getting ahead of one's peers is not consistent with Jesus' urging in Matthew 20:25b-28, which calls for Christians to seek a lowly and servile role to those around them. However, this does not mean that Christians are called to underachieve, as Colossians 3:23 exhorts readers to push for peak performance in every endeavor, but for the glory of God rather than for selfish ambition.

Pride is also promoted in the public schools. It is often repackaged as self-esteem in programs such as "Here's Looking at You, 2000," in which education researcher Dr. Amy Binder reports that students are instructed to believe that they are "the most important person in the world."

Many Christian home educators assert that the kind of pride being taught in the schools is discouraged throughout Scripture by Jesus and Paul, who preach against lifting oneself up or putting oneself first in favor of assuming a lowly position among others, as seen in Luke 14:10-11 and Romans 12:3.

They often contend that traditional students are driven to achieve high marks in order to attain lucrative and prestigious jobs that can lead to lives of self-indulgence, while the Bible calls man not to be overcome by material concerns.

Even though God enjoys prospering His children, He also warns us in 1 Timothy 6:10 that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Negative socialization

The mass socialization conducted within schools has brought about a proliferation of delinquent behavior within this nation's youth, reports education researcher, Dr. Michael Slavinski. He notes that student bodies are increasingly riddled with violence, drugs, promiscuity, emotional disorders, crime, contempt for authority, desperate behavior, illiteracy and peer dependency - just to name a few.

Today, parents are not as surprised to see reports of fifth-graders having sex in class; hear about school shootings; find drugs or condoms in backpacks; receive phone calls from the police and principals; or witness defiant, apathetic and unrecognizable tones in their children's voices.

"Live and let learn," say many parents. Most home educators are fine with this, as long as their children's learning comes from mature, seasoned and embracing adults who have the children's best interests at heart - above political or economic agendas. They believe that such training shouldn't come from peers either, which amounts to the blind leading the blind.

When the Direct Observation Form of the Child Behavior Checklist was administered by education researcher Dr. Larry Shyers to identify 97 problematic behaviors in two groups of children, traditionally schooled students exuded eight times as many antisocial traits than their homeschooled counterparts. This lies in direct contrast to claims by public school advocates that exposure to campus life leads to proper socialization.

Light of the world

Many Christian parents are concerned that homeschooling would not allow their children to fulfill the great commission of sharing the gospel with non-believers. They often site Matthew 5:14-16 about being the light of the world.

Some Christian homeschool parents argue that even though young believers are to reach out to the lost, they are not called to immerse themselves daily in a hostile setting that constantly works to influence them in the ways of the world. They recognize that those with strong Christian upbringings are still vulnerable to the ungodly climate of the schools.

In Proverbs 4:11-15, King Solomon realized the vulnerability of his son, proclaiming his responsibility to train him in godly teachings and keep him from stumbling over the vices of this world.

Just as parents know that children are not prepared for war, many Christians believe that youth are not equipped to fend for themselves in the spiritual warfare taking place within schools.

A nationwide survey conducted by The Barna Group shows that 80 percent of Christian families send their children to public schools where their faith is attacked. Based on the study's findings, it appears that their kids are the ones being "evangelized" by the religion of secular humanism. More than half of their Christian teens believe Jesus actually sinned and only nine percent hold to moral absolutes, while 83 percent of children from committed Christian families attending public schools adopt a Marxist-Socialist worldview, reports the group.

For more statistics on Christians in education, click on The Barna Group.

Consistent with these figures, Christian producer and occult expert Caryl Matrisciana reports that 75 percent of public-schooled American youth brought up in Christian households disown their Christian faith by the first year of college. NHERI finds that this is only true for less than four percent of homeschooled youth.

Most home educators would not trade the blessings that homeschooling brings their families and society for the world.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, The Barna Group, NHERI, Dr. Michael Slavinski, Dr. Brian Ray, Dr. Thomas C. Smedley, Dr. Larry E. Shyers, Dr. Michael Mitchell, Dr. Linda Montgomery, Dr. Rhonda A. Galloway, Dr. Amy Binder