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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

* Garden Corner 04/30/09

Find this article in its new location at Loving Nature's Garden.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kids Book Give Away

I have a double kids book give away for you this week, sponsored by my Usborne Books and More book business UsborneKC.com. Pictured here are two books which will start conversations with your kids about where your electricity and food come from. These are also great books to keep in the car for trips.

Pictured on the left is Where Does Electricity Come From. It's ideal for a 6-9 year old, or for a younger child who is already asking questions about this kind of thing. It covers information such as how electricity is made, what we use it for, and how it is transported. There are a couple of basic experiments included. There is also brief information on how batteries, turbines, and televisions work.

Pictured on the right is The Runaway Tractor. This is a cute mini book, which comes with a Rusty the Dog soft animal keychain. The Runaway Tractor is a story in the Usborne Farmyard Tales series. It's a simple story with a little duck to find on every page. It's ideal for reading to 2-5 year olds and is perfect for a beginning reader to manage by themself. The keychain is not suitable for kids under 3 years old.

Great Inspiration for a Summer Camp or Field Trip
If you are thinking of summer camps, what to do with your kids when school or preschool gets out, or for something new to inspire your homeschooling, you could plan a field trip around these books. Take the time to visit a local farm, or to just look for a tractor working in a field. Stop and watch for a while. Research where your electricity comes from and look up the location on a map. Explore your neighborhood and find your local transformer. Look for above ground electricity pylons or cables and draw a map of where they are, or just have fun spotting them when you are out and about. Find more tractor and farming books at your library and read together about how things work. Older kids can watch a video about the Hoover Dam. Look for food labels in the grocery store and talk about where your food comes from. Find out what kind of food is grown in your local area. Talk with a farmer.

Entering the Give Away
Just leave a comment by midnight on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009. Sorry, this give away is only open to those in the continental United States. If you live elsewhere and really want to enter, please leave a comment with your location - if your name is drawn I will look into the cost of mailing to you and if it's less than $5 they're yours!

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To see the full range of Usborne Books visit Usborne Books & More.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

* Top Earth News

This article has been moved to Loving Nature's Garden.

Monday, April 27, 2009

* Green Product Reviews/Give Aways?

For green product reviews and give aways please visit Green Reviews.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

3 Classic Reads for Animal Lovers

I find myself coming back again and again to read classic books, books I read many years ago. Below are three books I highly recommend for the animal-lover in you, or the animal-lover in your life.

#1 - My Family and Other Animals
Reading Gerald Durrell's classic book as a teen had me longing for a life far from school with the freedom to explore island nature. Gerald's family are hilarious eccentrics who leave a dreary life in England to escape to Corfu. The descriptions of all the characters in this book and the events brought on by the animals in Gerald's little zoo never fail to make me smile. I'm pretty fond of The Maggenpies, the puppies called Widdle and Puke, and the mother scorpion who one day escapes onto the lunch table to cause mayhem amongst family and dinner guests. It's a great read for anyone with a love of animals and a taste for human eccentricities.
Find My Family and Other Animals at Amazon.com.

#2 - All Creatures Great and Small
James Herriot was a young, unsuspecting and inexperienced vet who arrived one day in Yorkshire, England ready to be interviewed for his first position, only to discover that his eccentric future-boss Siegfried wasn't even at home. Despite the hardships of being a farm vet in the Yorkshire Dales, James finds that there are many compensations, including the wonderful people and the fresh open aired countryside. As in the previous book, you really feel like you are visiting the author's place and seeing things through his eyes. Look out though, the Yorkshire Dales might capture your heart, like they did mine!
Find All Creatures Great and Small at Amazon.com

#3 - Your Recommendation
Try as I might, I couldn't think of just one more book to recommend. I have memories of many more wonderful reads, but the above two are the only animal books which have remained in my book collection for several decades. I'm always open to discover a new favorite book. What is your favorite nature or animal read? Which book do you come back to?

If you liked this you might like:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easy No Bake Recipe

This easy no bake recipe is one of my all time favorites. I've been making variations of it since I was a kid. If your kids like chocolate, they'll love these cute chocolate bird nests with mini Easter eggs.

It's a quick and easy recipe with no baking and minimal clean-up. I'm giving you both my original easy no bake recipe and an adapted vegan/dairy-free alternative. Both are equally easy. Just watch out if your kids get a caffeine high from cocoa; don't give them these to eat after dinner!

Easy No Bake Chocolate Easter Bird Nests

With this recipe your kids can learn measuring, mixing, spooning, and safe use of the microwave or stove.

Ingredients
2oz of butter or margarine
1/2 cup of hot cocoa mix (the kind that contains powdered milk)
1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
3 cups of cereal flakes - cornflakes or other
24-36 mini sugar-coated chocolate eggs or jelly beans

Dairy-free Alternative Ingredients
2oz of dairy-free margarine
6 tablespoons cocoa powder (the kind without milk)
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup of honey
3 cups of cereal flakes
24-36 mini sugar-coated chocolate eggs or jelly beans - make sure these are OK for your diet - if you can't find dairy-free/vegan use pieces of colored paper to decorate instead

Equipment
12 paper cup-cake cases, or a muffin pan, or ramekin bowls
small heat-proof bowl, cup, or mug (for the microwave) or a small pan
knife
dessert spoon
1/2 cup measure
tablespoon measure (if making the dairy-free option)
mixing bowl

Procedure
  1. Gather all ingredients and equipment.
  2. Measure all ingredients, apart from the butter/margarine and cereal flakes, and place in mixing bowl.
  3. Cut off 20z of butter or margarine (half a stick) and place in the heat-proof cup or bowl or the pan.
  4. Microwave the butter or margarine until melted (about 30 seconds) or heat in the pan on the stove until melted.
  5. Pour the hot, melted butter or margarine into the other ingredients - do this for your child if you are not ready to trust them to do it safely.
  6. Mix with the spoon.
  7. Measure and add the cereal flakes then mix until all the flakes are coated.
  8. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases, muffin pan cups, or ramekins.
  9. Press down the center to make an indentation for the mini Easter eggs or jelly beans.
  10. Arrange 2-3 Easter eggs or jelly beans in the center of each chocolate nest.
  11. Allow to cool and set, which will take at least 60 minutes. You can speed this up by putting them in the fridge.
  12. Enjoy!
Did you enjoy working in the kitchen when you were a kid? Do your kids enjoy working with you to make food, or are there frustrations?

Related posts:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kids Science Books - spring

Thinking about spring gifts for Easter or birthdays? Do you value education? Kids science books are a great choice for a gift. To be more green we can all abide by the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and "needs before wants" when we shop. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - "Everyone has the right to education." With that in mind, choose something educational, something you know for sure will be useful to the recipient - don't guess, ask them for input, assuming they are old enough! Here are my ideas and suggestions for shopping kids science books for gifts this spring.

For Easter and Spring Birthdays
It's nice to have a fun, educational, book or two in your Easter basket. Earth Day is also coming up, and you might know a kid or two with a spring birthday. Here are some best selling choices from Usborne:
  • Early science understanding for infants and toddlers is really about observation, cause and effect, exploring with the senses, and learning to understand life, the environment, and what to expect. Books can be used to grow children in all these respects and to prepare for the reading part of their learning. Some great choices for infants to 3 years - Animal Hide and Seek, That's Not My Bunny, Noisy Animals, This is My Tractor.
  • Three to six year olds are figuring out the difference between living and non-living. They can learn about lifecycles, habitats, and the seasons. They begin to notice that each living thing has needs and thrives under a set of circumstances. Good choices for 3 to 6 year olds include - The Butterfly, Creepy Crawlies Lift the Flap, 1001 Bugs to Spot.
  • In the early elementary years books that are both educational and fun with easy reading are the best choices. 6 to 9 year olds can become confident readers while learning about the Earth and nature. Science books and reference shelf items start to become more important, such as - Great Planet Earth Search, See Inside Planet Earth, Trash and Recycling and more, Why Should I Bother About the Planet?
Usborne Books and More are very efficient at shipping and typically have a one business day turn-around. The warehouse is in Tulsa Oklahoma, which means it's too late for Easter delivery to either coast. However, I am in the Midwest and will be placing my own Easter order on Monday. If you need an estimate of shipping time to you please ask rather than assuming one way or the other. E-mail me or call me - my phone number is listed at UsborneKC.com.

Does your child have a favorite Usborne book or a favorite science book?

One of my friends just alerted me to a going out of business sale for certified organic candy. Some of their items are selling for less than half price. The company is College Farm and they have a very cute candy tin with organic lollipops which becomes a traditional metal lunch box and it's selling for $1.99 at 75% off. Excuse the pun, but that's a sweet deal! They also have certified organic lemon hard candy and my mouth is watering just thinking of it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Give Away Winner - Crinkle Cutter

I used my Excel spreadsheet to generate a random number between 1 and 5. I forgot to round to the nearest whole number - the number which came up was: 3.16582. Which makes the winner of the Crinkle Cutter Giveaway commenter number 3, who is Laura. Congratulations Laura of Global Mama! I'll be e-mailing you to get your snail mail address, then a crinkle cutter will be on it's way to you :-)

Thank you Mia, Jen, Janet (who excluded herself) and Jessica for entering. Better luck next time. Please come back for my next give away.

Easy, Fun, Lunch - Cheese Beanos

Here is one of my very favorite, easy, fun lunches for kids - Cheese Beanos. It's easy enough for them to make, with some supervision on the cooking part and, if you're not careful, it makes just enough mess to be fun. You can use this recipe to help your kids learn how to: open a can, and use the broiler. The origins of this recipe are lost in the family archive, but it really doesn't take a lot of imagination!

Ingredients
1 can of beans in tomato sauce
8 slices of bread
8 cheese slices or a block of cheese (vegan cheese slices, or cheese, work too)
Fresh tomatoes or fruit to serve with

Equipment
can opener
spoon
cheese slicer or knife (if you're using block cheese)
baking tray
oven mitts
broiler - put the shelf 2 rungs down

Directions
Open the can of beans. Place the bread slices on the baking tray. Spoon beans onto the bread slices. Slice off cheese if you're using a block. Top the beans with cheese slices. Place the tray under the broiler (of course you'll turn it on first). DO NOT walk away - stay and watch because it browns up fast. If the edges of the bread are brown before the cheese is, move the tray down to a lower shelf and watch it until the cheese is browned.

Serve the Cheese Beanos with a knife and fork and tomatoes or fruit. The mess comes when you try to lift up the beanos and get them in your mouth without dropping beans - it's a good exercise in motor control and it makes a little bit of a fun mess :-) My kids have learned to use the knife and fork and cut off small pieces instead.

Try it and let me know what your kids think.
 
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