All green, nature, and sustainability posts have been moved to Loving Nature's Garden

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dinner So Easy a 2 Year Old Can Do It

Here's a dinner so easy a 2 year old can do it, or should I say, "So easy a caveman can do it!" That little Geico gecko guy and his caveman friend are pretty popular around my house. Anyway, this dinner bears a great resemblance to what I make at the end of a crazy day when my brain is wiped from homeschooling and writing, which happens more often than I'd like.

The 2 year obviously did get a little help - maybe with a can opener and a knife? If you want to be more sustainable, and you've mastered the art of canning, you can make this same meal from your own produce. Then again, if you've mastered canning why would you be coming here for a recipe?

This video is courtesy of YouTube.

Monday, January 26, 2009

* Growing Green

Find this article in it's new home at Loving Nature's Garden.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday, Rest Day

For the moment I plan for Sundays to be a day off writing. No need to come over to read, unless you are behind in your Homeschooler's Guide to the Galaxy homework ;-}

Of course I might change my mind at any time...

I hope you find something restful to do today.

Check back in on Monday :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Restoring Science to its Rightful Place

"We'll restore science to its rightful place... We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil..."
President Obama, January 20th, 2009

I wonder though, do he and I mean the same thing by this?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Photos

Preparations were made

people came

many watched

it was a time to share

no matter from where you saw it

he stands tall

there is much work to be done

Welcome President Barack Obama

Photos reproduced here under a creative commons license. Copyrights belong to the respective owners. Follow the links and leave a comment for the photographers.

Presidential Inauguration Learning Links

Despite the excitement of the day, I just have to share a few interesting learning links related to Presidents, Barack Obama and today's inauguration. Enjoy!
Are you celebrating today? Did you prepare some special food, spend time with family, are you watching from somewhere other than your home? What do your kids think of it all? What is your biggest hope and your greatest fear on this Inauguration Day?

Flag photo reproduced here under a creative commons license. The copyright belongs to the original owner.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Limitations of Blogger

Much as I love what Google offers us with Blogger, it does have it's limitations. You, my regular reader, may be wondering what's up with my previous post welcoming people from Scribbit. I have the honor of having written a guest article for Scribbit which will be published in a couple of days. Rather than have anyone who clicks through land any old place here I thought it would be good to follow Problogger's suggestion on having a landing page for guest visitors. I don't know of any way to have a page on Blogger unless it's as a post, so I had to publish a post, which maybe looked a little strange to everyone else visiting as normal.

Now back to the normal programming...

Welcome to the Homeschoolers Guide to the Galaxy

Welcome and thanks for taking the trip over from Scribbit. I enjoyed writing about Kansas City Activities for Kids (and moms and dads) for Michelle's blog. Michelle is always gracious and helpful to work with.

I'm Alison Kerr and I'd like to be your guide to Growing Green with your curious kids. I have always loved nature and cared about the environment. Although I have studied both Biology and Nutrition to 4 year degree level in college I don't claim to be any kind of expert. I do believe that as moms we can pass on some really important understanding about the Earth, caring about nature and our place in it, and life skills for sustainability to our kids. I hope you will learn something by visiting with me here at Growing Green at The Homeschooler's Guide to the Galaxy and I look forward to some conversations.

Here are some topics which I particularly like to share about:
  • Cooking and cooking with kids.
  • Science - especially Biology and Marine Biology.
  • Gardening, conservation, and caring for the environment, the Earth, and for each other.
  • Books and reading - especially non-fiction books.
If you want to keep up with Growing Green here on The Homeschooler's Guide to the Galaxy please be sure to sign up for my RSS feed over on the right.

As promised, three great places to eat with your kids in the Kansas City metro.

My Kids' Favorite Eat Out Places

If I tell you that at Cinzetti's kids can get as much pizza and as much ice-cream as they want you might know why my kids love to go there! With all the wonderful, real, adult, food choices it's also my favorite place to eat. Kids eat free for dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays and there's a reduced price for seniors all day every day. It's definitely a popular spot for three generation families. On the weekend they have a wonderful brunch with crepes cooked to order. Best of all, I've found it to be a safe place to eat even when you have a family member with nut allergy. Just tell your server and they'll let you know about anything you should avoid.

OK, we're on a theme here because my kids' second choice for eating out is Pizza Street, with, wait for it, never-ending pizza and ice-cream! While Cinzetti's is a great place for a family get-together, Pizza Street is wonderful when you are on a budget. Their pizza buffet costs just $4.49 for adults (as of the date of publication here). When you go in the door they ask you if you have a favorite pizza and they make one up fresh if you want that. My favorite pizza is the Baked Potato, though the Alfredo is pretty good too. They serve pasta and a very basic salad too, included in the price. Drinks are not included though, unless you just want water. Kids like the dessert pizzas and the serve yourself soft ice-cream. I don't think they have the ice-cream at all locations so you might want to check that before promising! Being a budget place to eat it's not as fancy or spiffy clean as Cinzetti's and they do have a room with some kind of coin driven games. However, my kids are so excited and occupied with the food that they've never been in the room with the games.

Now, the third place my kids asked me to recommend does not serve pizza. Neither is it a place to buy a meal! I have to say though that they excel at delectable frozen custard monstrosities. Kansas is one of only 8 states where you can find a Sheridan's Frozen Custard stand. With such delights as Dirt and Worms and Grant's Grasshopper concretes you're going to have to allow some time for choosing. The choice of toppings is so overwhelming that I usually opt for either a regular menu combination, or one of the seasonal specials. I thought my kids were kinda nuts to ask to go there last week when it was zero Fahrenheit outside, but they actually serve warm desserts at this time of year. We came away a few $ poorer, but pretty happy :-)

I'm glad you could stop by! Thanks for doing so. By the way, I always welcome comments and questions and I'm available to guest write on a wide variety of topics, just drop me an e-mail (see the image of my e-mail address over on the right).
Sodapnya Pizza and Sundae photos do not represent the products served at the restaurants in this article. They are reproduced here under a creative commons license. Copyrights belong to the original owners.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Purpose in Learning

"I believe that learning should have discernible purpose for the child (or adult) and not just be about fulfilling the needs of parents or society. Who wants to do something just because someone else says we ought to?"
Alison Kerr

Friday, January 16, 2009

Easy Lunch At Home

Here's a quick and easy lunch for eating at home which serves 3 adults, or 1 adult and two homeschooled teens who haven't had massive exercise! Serve with bread to feed more.

Includes kitchen skills for kids: safe knife skills to chop the onion and tomatoes; learn how to crack eggs; younger kids can be in charge of washing the vegetables, adding the salt and pepper, mixing the eggs, and chopping the red pepper with a table knife (once you remove the seeds and stalk).

Veggie Omelet with Salsa

1 large onion (or 2 small, or 1 leek)
oil (I use golden olive oil)
4 eggs
water - 1/2 egg shell for each egg
salt and ground black pepper
1 red pepper (green if you prefer)
shredded cheese (I like to use Irish cheddar)

3-4 plum tomatoes or 1 can of chopped tomatoes
Mama Socorro's Salsa Mix or other salsa spices
  1. Peel and chop the onion. Compost the ends and skins. Wash onion after removing the skin.
  2. Wash the pepper. Remove the stalk and seed core - compost. Chop pepper into strips.
  3. Wash the tomatoes, remove the stalk area for compost. Cut into slices then chunks. Follow the directions on the Socorro's Salsa Mix packet (basically you warm the spices with the tomato in a pan on the stove).
  4. Shred the cheese if it didn't come that way - depending on taste you will want somewhere around 1/2 cup worth. If you are short of time, small slices of cheese work fine.
  5. Warm the oil (1-2 tbsp) in a cast iron or non-stick skillet. Note - your skillet needs to be OK with being put under the broiler.
  6. Gently cook the onion on medium heat.
  7. Meantime - crack the eggs one at a time checking that each is fresh before adding to the others.
  8. Add one 1/2 egg shell of water for each egg.
  9. Mix eggs with a fork and add a sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  10. When the onion is turning transparent, add the eggs to the pan.
  11. Do not stir the eggs. Add the strips of pepper on top.
  12. Warm up the broiler.
  13. When the eggs are beginning to cook on top sprinkle on the shredded cheese then take off the stove and put under the broiler.
  14. Watch the pan closely under the broiler because it will cook quickly. Remove from the broiler (use oven mitts) when it is golden on top.
  15. Serve with the salsa.
Please let me know what you think. Is this the right amount of detail on the recipe, too much detail? Do you like to have a list of tools and utensils with a recipe?

My kids enjoyed this quick lunch and I hope you do too.

Choose from 14 different children's cookbooks from Usborne. Starting Cooking is a Parent's Choice approved book which teaches the skills of cooking with eggs, using the stovetop, and using a broiler.

Mama Socorro's Salsa Mix is manufactured in Raytown, MO. You can contact Socorro's Mexican Products at (816) 358-9332.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

* A Gentle Way of Gardening

Please visit this article at Loving Nature's Garden.

Take That For Taking My Writing, Scraper!

Ooh, I'm fired up this morning. I just discovered that someone had copied, launched and Google indexed one of my posts word for word. The one about porridge. I'm guessing they took it from my RSS feed. Now, copyright violations just happen to be one of my hot buttons. If anyone wants to take a little extract of any post of mine and link back, I'm open to the suggestion. But just taking my stuff and putting it on their site to attract people to their Google ads, no contact with me, no linkback, not even any way to contact them on their site, that fairly had me hopping!

At first I was floundering around trying to figure out what to do, but Problogger turned out to be my knight in shining armor. If this ever happens to you just go take a look at Fighting Scrapers With Your Left Jab. That violator has now been reported to Google Adwords for violating copyright and to Google search for using duplicate content. Hopefully that's it taken care of.

Got an RSS feed? Know if anyone is taking your stuff? If you don't know you might want to care because duplicate content can "flag" Google and you might be the one who gets thrown off the search indexing. Bad, bad.

OK, time to calm down. What was it I was going to write about today? Sorry, this hi-jacked my brain cells. I'll try to post something nice, and calm, and gentle later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Technorati, Top Blogs, Do You Care?

Add to Technorati Favorites
My regular readers will notice that every now and again I like to write about bloggers and blogging. The fact that there is something out there called Technorati hasn't entirely escaped my notice. However, up until now I've managed to avoid knowing anything about it except that it's a place to find a list of the top ranked bloggers. Today I got curious though and I began to wonder what we can learn about human nature from the top ranked blogs at Technorati.

Somehow it seemed that the experience of exploring would not be complete without registering my blog over there. I'm left in two minds though about whether I really want a Technorati button on my blog. I mean, being ranked 497,353 isn't exactly a boost for the ego. Maybe I'd rather just forget I ever went there! OK, I said I was going to talk about human nature and top ranked blogs at Technorati. Either I'm lost for words, or there's just not that much to say about it.

If you've never ventured over to Technorati I could just save you the trip with my quick guide here to learning about those top blogs.

Technology and Gadgets
I'll admit it, I'm always behind the curve on this. I don't pay attention until things are well tried and have trickled through the layers of the people who surround me to get to me.

Quite honestly, my ego does not require me to have the latest stuff and my pocketbook doesn't support it. Neither am I interested in going into debt to get new stuff. I don't much care for gadgets either - too many sequences to learn to understand how to use these. I prefer that my technology be simple and that I can learn how to use it from a family member rather than an instruction book.

Yes, and though Life Hacker is about getting things done it's also about doing things with technology. Hey, I leave as much as possible of the doing things to others, unless it's laundry or cooking, and which gadgets are going to do those jobs for me?

Sorry guys, if you wanted one more reader, it won't be me.

Not Sure What to Call It?
as covered by PITT and Post Secret

I'm not really sure what to call these. PITT I'd never come across until today. I clicked on the top video and saw exploding buildings. I'm not sure if that was The Twin Towers or what. I just got the feeling this blog is not the place for me to spend my time. Anyway, I prefer to read at blogs rather than watch videos. What's it about? Actually, never mind, I don't really care, but if you have some words of wisdom on the psychology of PITT do please share.

I've been to Post Secret a couple of times, yet I'm not sure I could really say what it's about. Obviously people's secrets, but what makes that so fascinating? My own life is enough of an adventure. I don't need to be party to the secrets of strangers.

Sorry guys, I know you won't care, but I'm not voting for you, whatever you're about and whoever visits you.

Blogging and Such
as covered by Dosh Dosh and Problogger

Notice here that I listed Dosh Dosh first. That's because I was reading Dosh Dosh before other bloggers started to recommend to me that I read Problogger. It goes without saying that these guys get my vote. Blogging is something that I do and something I'd like to do better. At the same time, I think any dreams of making lots of dosh at this would be pie in the sky. Hey, I like pie and I love sky gazing, but really I just want to do a good job. Of course, if you happen to want an Usborne book or two, or something from and choose to order through me, that would just make my day. I need a little cash to feed my blogging habit! End of ad, just keep visiting, "pretty please", I like having readers :-)

What do you think? Do any of the top 10 Technorati ranked bloggers get your vote? Had you heard of Technorati? Do you even care?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Learning Stuff Links

I've sought out the best links for learning stuff. There is some great stuff out there, but also a lot you just would waste your time on. Here are my favorite links for learning stuff:
  • At How Stuff Works you can learn about everything from bread to pressure cookers, the ocean and gardening. What a wonderful learning resource for all kinds of stuff!
  • The stuff at will get you learning about fun things like beaches, the galaxy (NASA), energy and the environment, farming and food and nutrition. There's tons of learning to explore and hopefully we can trust the government as a reliable source!
  • The Kids Learning Stuff blog focuses on book reviews with some learning related articles about things such as IQ testing and giftedness. Sarah at the Kinda Learning Stuff blog writes about technology and it's impact on everyday life.
  • has a bunch of free science activity sheets. I've used their Lentil Science and Electricity programs in homeschooling. They promote a fun and affordable way to do hands-on exploration and learn science and math using household stuff.
  • Two more bloggers who write about learning stuff: Will at Work posts research based commentary on learning and Meredith Farkas is a librarian, writer and teacher who calls herself a tech geek and posts about the library profession and the tools used to serve patrons.
I thought I was in for writing a really long article here on all the wonderful things that come up when you search Google for learning stuff but this is all I found out of 3 pages of search results! Great, I can go off and get my breakfast and start homeschooling. It's like work got our early for today :-)

In association with, home of the Kindle. Sign up for Kindle alerts at the WiiAlerts site. This site has been used by people I know and I recommend it because it works!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why Homebaked Bread is a Necessity

Sometimes it's funny how you learn things. For instance, I recently discovered that while 2 members of my family love mushy food, the other two won't be satisfied with a meal unless it contains something chewy. Now, people may have a vision of homeschooling as an idyllic lifestyle, you know, mom, dad and the kids all living in perfect harmony, learning together around the kitchen table. Let me tell you though, when all 4 members of your family effectively work from home as well as living and sleeping there you have to be good at compromise. It's a daily necessity for getting through both lunch and dinner together without some kind of meltdown.

In our home freshly baked bread, or more often, so far, biscuits, is a kind of glue that keeps us together, or maybe it's grease to keep us running smoothly. Either way, I serve it with soup or stew and we have both mush and something to chew on. It leads to happy homeschoolers and a happy family :-) You know, there's a reason why baking bread is the number 1 item on Julie's 10 Point Bluffers Guide to Being a Homeschool Supermom. And I'm pretty sure it applies equally to being a non-homeschooling supermom. The only problem is making something baked in time for lunch while juggling things like blog writing and homeschool support tasks. Should you be game for the challenge though, I do have a few suggestions.

I tend to subscribe to the theory that variety is the spice of life. There are tons of fine recipes available on the web, but I still think it's better to have a tried and true book you can pull off the shelf when you're ready to dig into the flour pot. It wouldn't be enough for me to master making one kind of bread, therefore "Flour Cooking Naturally" has been my bread bible. I only use two other books for bread-like baking. One of them is a Betty Crocker booklet which I got for 10 cents at a garage sale and the other explains how to make tortillas.

Early on in my years of independent living I somehow acquired a small set of essential cookery books which have followed me everywhere. It's a plan I'd recommend. Using this book you can learn the secrets of everything from hot cross buns and crumpets to Danish pastries, bannocks, rye crispbread and challah. It covers every kind of basic cake and biscuit, puddings, all sorts of pastries and even homemade pasta. More impressively, every recipe I've tried has worked! Just be aware that since this book was published in London all recipes are given in weights rather than volume measures so you'll either need a set of scales or a conversion chart.

Just in case purchasing a British book for the economical sum of $0.40 cents doesn't appeal, or you just can't wait to get started, here are some learning links related to baking bread and biscuits:
  • My favorite biscuit recipe uses oil rather than shortening. What could be better? When the main part of your meal is a bean soup, you need something with some fat to fill you up. An oil-based biscuit is ideal and much healthier. I make mine with olive oil, salt, pepper and some Italian herb mix. Here's the secret to healthy, fluffy biscuits. There are many ideas for using biscuits at I'd just substitute the oil-based recipe for the Bisquick mix she suggests.
  • How does an engineer write recipes? Find out how to cook the engineers' way and make cornbread. Now, I'm not talking about high-tech or using a lot of grease! This recipe format makes SO much sense to me. I've never quite mastered the art of understanding recipes, which means I usually read my book over and over and over to make sure I get it right. I'm not an engineer, but I still like it!
  • Like many people I've tried wholewheat bread recipes and ended up with a brick-like result. At Smitten Kitchen I found a recipe for a light, wheat bread. I'm willing to give it a try once more. Deb over there even claims to bewitch breads!
  • Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies has been writing about soup and bread and she just wrote about the book pictured at the top of this page "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". It worked for her and now I just have to check it out! I had found it at when I was looking around for a bread picture today. I read the first few pages online and was really intrigued. It goes on my wishlist. In fact I'm off to check my library for it in just a moment.
  • Not everyone has the luxury of being home with the chance to make their own bread. I know that many enjoy bread from in-store bakeries. For my family this is not a choice - we have a member with peanut allergy and in-store bakeries are just a risk we can't take. I highly recommend the Farm to Market bread company. It's not much use to you unless you're in the Kansas City area, but their bread is really great. Don't expect it to last more than one meal though because it's much too delicious! They have some recipes at their website which you could use with your own home-made bread, or in-store baked if that works better for you.
  • There are plenty places to read the story of bread online. Here is a pretty detailed history of bread making for those who like to read. For the more visual you can watch a bread story slide show.
  • Here's a Flowerpot Bread recipe for cooking with your kids. I'd never heard of bread clay, but I found a recipe and it sounds like a fun craft project. Personally I think it's about all store-bought, sliced white bread is good for, but maybe your kids would disagree!
May all your loaves be edible :-)

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day at - you can read the first few pages online. Flour Cooking Naturally is available used - it contains a wealth of wheat based recipes from many countries. Bread machines are wonderful if you have the space and funds.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

True Learning

"True learning only starts when you reach outside your mind."
Alison Kerr

Friday, January 9, 2009

Around the Blogosphere

A few tidbits for you to enjoy:
  • Darren at Problogger wants to know what you recommend for getting a blog started in terms of writing a reserve of posts. You want to create a good impression and grow your readership right away! Great tips. Now, if I'd only ever read a blog before I started I might have been ready on Day 1. Oops, I'm letting out my secrets :-)
  • Lori has started a club for kids at Campcreek blog. If you are not familiar with what Lori does she has a great open thread today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday). The discussions are always interesting and I love to read Lori's insights and ideas. She also launched a new blog this year which I already love at Heywood's Meadow. This blog is brand new but it already has a ton of wonderfully illustrated nature themed posts up. I guess Lori had the same idea as Darren at Problogger, either that or she's not slept for a week!
  • Scribbit would like to invite you to be a tour guide to your local area and guest write on her blog. I've signed up to write about the Kansas City area, which is now my backyard (or frontyard maybe).
  • Holly has posted her favorite math and science resources and math encouragement for unschoolers. Apparently Chemistry is Holly's friend too.
  • I was over at Kayla's Webitect blog today and I found an intereresting link about The Principles of Design.
  • I just came across Zazzle today. I knew there were other services similar to Cafe Press out there, but I didn't know how to find them. Artist Girl has her own store at Cafe Press. Right now she has a laughing dog, hippocampus and a seahorse picture on products. Maybe I should ask her to add her Waterdragon. It would absolutely make her day if someone bought one of her products!
Have you found a great new blog, or an article you really like this week?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Porridge Tales from Grandma's Kitchen

Many was the happy hour of my childhood which I spent in my grandmother's kitchen. I was fascinated by the tales of her own childhood which she would share with me as I stirred a pot for her, or watched her making scones. The most fascinating tale of all for me was the one of The Porridge Drawer.

Apparently when my Gran was a little girl her kitchen had a special wooden drawer into which was poured homemade porridge. This idea really caught my imagination. I would visualize gloopy oatmeal being poured into a drawer, which was presumably then closed up, hiding the contents from view. In my experience drawers were for keeping underwear in, which made the tale all the more fascinating! I would ask about this over and over. Each time I was told that the porridge was left to cool. Later it was cut into blocks which were given to family members to pack with them for lunch. Frugality was the order of the day; I've no idea whether there was anything other than porridge available at those meals, but I suspect not.

Nowadays I'm not a true Scot. I eat my porridge with dried fruit or with honey, and not just with salt. I'm totally spoiled and always have milk available to make it creamy. I even, more often than not, resort to the microwave to make my oatmeal. I've not forgotten my Scottish roots though and I own a real wooden porridge spurtle, which was passed down to me from an older generation. When the mood is right, I enjoy stirring my oats while they bubble and gloop. With a touch of patience my porridge turns creamy and smooth ready to "stick to my ribs" and keep my appetite satisfied until lunchtime.

Here are some porridge and oat related learning links for you to explore:
Grain mills and oats at Usborne books which contain oat recipes: Starting Cooking contains muesli and oatmeal bar recipes; Children's Book of Baking contains apple squares and cherry crumble cake; Healthy Cookbook contains granola and peachy crumble.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Waterdragon for Wordless Wednesday

Learning link for teen artists - Artist Girl recommends Fan Art Central. However, a word of warning, the site won't work if you have adverts blocked.

Wordlesss Wednesday.

Find dragon drawing books at
Education and Training Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory