Friday, 26 February 2016

Science & Art: BBC Nature's Tree of Life Poster


Scout Kid has been very interested lately in the concept of ancestors and how old species are. Trying to explain the phylogenetic tree of life to a four-year-old isn't the easiest, but BBC Nature has this cool, free-download poster, which is a place to start. I think he might still be a little young for exploring the Tree of Life Web Project, but I have it waiting in the wings for when he's a little more literate.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Goodslove: Engraved Rolling Pins


My rolling pin is breaking (shedding tiny ball bearings into my dough every time I use it!) and I'm kind of tempted to get one of these laser-engraved beauties to replace it. Or should I go with marble?

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Dark Skies Follow-Up

Stumbled across a few more starry finds since posting about light pollution on Tuesday.

What Makes a Star Starry?



Gorgeous silk scarf printed from the Suomi NPP satellite's image of the US at night.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Dark Skies

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/news/earth-at-night.html#.Vsu_fHQrK2y
Composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC
When we were on our honeymoon, the Partner in Crime and I visited a planetarium in Seattle one day. The show happened to be about light pollution, and it's been nagging at the back of my mind ever since. The fixes are so simple, yet the scale of the problem is so large that it seems unlikely it will ever be addressed. Yet think of what we could all gain! Aside from the positive effects on wildlife and energy usage, what a magic to once again be able to look up and see the Milky Way from inhabited areas.

Here is the Internation Dark-Sky Association's tips of minimizing light pollution: "To minimize the harmful effects of light pollution, lighting should:

  • Only be on when needed
  • Only light the area that needs it
  • Be no brighter than necessary
  • Minimize blue light emissions
  • Be fully shielded (pointing downward)."
That's it! If I ever become mayor of somewhere, we're definitely going to certify our town as an International Dark Sky Place. I can give out my campaign fliers on star maps...

Monday, 22 February 2016

Food for Thought: Good and Cheap, Leanne Brown


Such a cool project (by a Canadian)! A PDF cookbook of seasonal, flexible recipes designed for food-insecure people. It's also available on Kindle or paperback on Amazon, and every copy bought includes one copy given to a family or person in need. I'd love to see this distributed at my local Food Bank. Going to muse a bit about what I can do to make that happen...

Food for Thought: The Harvard Healthy Eating Plate

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to eat more whole grains as a family (sorry, Partner in Crime, you're along for the ride!) Overall, I felt like we ate healthy enough to keep me from worrying and unhealthy enough not to look like weirdos when we had people over to dinner ;)

However, I knew there were some areas we could up our game. One of the things I wanted to avoid, though, was unscientific nutritional advice. There's so much advice floating around in the name of health that is unsupported or just plain wrong. *cough*GMOS*cough* I found Authority Nutrition, which links supporting studies through all it's articles, and that helped, but they still sometimes get off-track, and they also focus way more than I'm interested in on weight loss versus overall health.

When I happened on the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, though, something just clicked. So much nutrition advice can feel conflicting, or burdening, or restricting, but this just feels easy. Although we pretty much ignore the advice about bacon and butter, everything else has been easy and enjoyable to incorporate without feeling like I have to buy all kinds of unusual/expensive specialty items or demonise all the ordinary food at the grocery store.

Simple to remember, research-based, and freeing-- our crisper drawers are full and we're happy campers.

Homeschooling: DIY.org


How cool does DIY.org look? Kids do challenges and master skills to earn badges. You can access this part of it for free, or for a subscription (that can cover multiple kids) you can access courses on learning how to do the different challenges. I can't wait to show this to the Scout Kid, and someday to the Feral Kid and their sister. What will we start with? Baker? Archer? Graphic Designer? I know Scout Kid will have some opinions once I show him the options. Our life just got way more fun.

 Download the app here and let me know if you sign your kids up so we can follow each other's progress!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Systems: Universal Packing List


In a lot of ways, I've grown up to be just like my mother. One way is our common love of systems. We both believe, somewhere deep in our hearts, that there is a perfect list for everything life throws at you. The schedules I draw for my kids, the chore and shopping lists I make, even my glorious but not-yet-complete bid to have a 365-day meal plan, are all rooted in the lists I saw my mother making as a kid.

So of course, when I stumbled across OneBag.com a few years back, I was hooked. Calling itself "a non-commercial Web site that teaches — in exhaustive (exhausting?) detail — the art and science of travelling light," it has a wealth of information on the best kind of bag to get, what to put in it, and how to make sure it's the only bag you bring on your trip. And while I certainly can't claim I managed (or even wanted!) to make eight weeks' worth of Georgia travel necessities fit in one bag, I do adore the universal packing list philosophy espoused on the site.

Basically, the idea is that you have a packing list that you pull out every time you go on a trip, and on that list is every single thing you might need to take. You don't take everything that's on the list, but you don't take anything that isn't on the list. And it works! Aside from the odd very trip-specific item (like, say, skis if you're going on a ski trip), everything you're going to need is on this list. I packed for a family of four's eight-week work trip, and the only thing that we need that didn't come with us is a DVD whose case I packed without checking whether it was still in the DVD player.

The site encourages you to personalise your own version of the list, and tweak it over time. So I did. And I'm including it here in the hopes that some of you might find it useful. I've made two versions, a PDF checklist which, if you're a real keener, can be printed double-sided, laminated, and used with a dry-erase marker. (I won't judge if you're a keener; I'm the girl who read the whole OneBag.com website to make this for you!) The second version is a Word document, which you could download if you'd like to edit and personalise your own version of the universal packing list.

OneBag.com has an extensive justification, as well as suggested brands, for every item on their list, and it's worth a read-through if you have a boatload of time on your hands (as I once did, before I had kids). If you're a little more pressed for time, though, you can always just check in on items of interest. After all, you may never need the kind of travel that requires you to have a compass, or paracord, or hot glue, and the point here is to find a list that makes things simple for you.

Do you have any go-to travel gurus or tips? I'd love to hear about them in the comments. I'm always looking for new and better life hacks.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Mesmerising: Dust Cloud Around Earth



via Adventure Journal

"Blue swirls show sea salt whipped off the ocean, red is dust, and white is pollution from volcanic eruptions and burning coal. The rod dots that cover the map represent forest fires burning from both natural and human causes."

Friday, 19 February 2016

Lady Legends: Goodbye, Harper Lee


I'm not having another kid after this, but if I were, I'd want it to be a girl so I could name her after you. Thanks for your book. Thanks for Scout. Thanks for, "I’m the sheriff of Maycomb County and Bob Ewell fell on his knife."