Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology - Free Online Course Review

Picture from Flickr

I recently completed this free online cours e offered by the University of Alberta on Coursera and would recommend it to anyone interested in dinosaurs to get a brief overview of the different types, their extinction and evolution along with time lines and geography or even a home-schooling segment for students junior high age and up (there is the option to receive a Certificate of Achievement for a fee of around $49, but a time scheduled needs to be adhered to in completing quizzes).

While the course is currently over, they are offering it again in September 2014

I chose to take it as I have had a fascination with dinosaurs ever since seeing a traveling promotional display by Sinclair Oil of a Brontosaurus at a gas station in a nearby town as a very young child., which found out that it was a misclassification and is actually an Apatosaurus.    (There are more pictures and information about the Sinclair traveling exhibit from late '60-early 70's at Monster Bash News)

It was huge, I believe I read somewhere it was 70 feet long.   I just remember straining my neck to look up at it and from head to tail ti seemed to go on forever and I was afraid at first, but as my Mom said it was a plant-eater and it had a non-threatening looking face and then I became enthralled and for awhile was into all things dino.

When my son was young, he was into dinosaurs as well and we went to see a lecture by Richard Bakker, "The Dinosaur" man, who was also a technical advisor on the "Jurassic Park" films in the mid 1990's and I was surprised how much theories had changed since I was a kid and Bakker's hypothesis that dinosaurs were not cold blooded like reptiles, but warm blooded creatures.  I decided to take the course as I was curious as about learning more and what some of the updated theories might be and it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

It consists of 12 video lectures cut down into 3 to 5 different segments that are 5 to 20 minutes long and average probably around 11 minutes, so you don't have to commit to a major chunk of time and you can work at your own pace (if not seeking a certificate).   There are 5 question multiple choice quiz at the end of each lesson to test your knowledge, but if you get an answers wrong you have the opportunity to take the quiz one more time.

There are also interactives within the lectures, such as the Dinosaura tree where you match the picture of the dinosaur to their type and the hip type to their classification.  There is also where you can check out bones from a 3-D angle, a timeline and quizzes within the lectures that are meant to get you thinking what the correct answer might be, but are not part of any grading.  

I would suggest taking notes early on.   I didn't start until the 4th week and wished I had started earlier.  You really need to read and comprehend the material to pass the quizzes.  

There is also the opportunity to interact with the other students in the forums.  There were students as young as a 12 year old home-schooler to retired people.  Two of the retired people had completed the course within a few days.

So if you want to learn interesting information such as there is evidence that a T-Rex had feathers and it is thought that a meteor hitting Earth caused the extinction of the large dinosaurs but that we see whey evolved into in order to survive every day, I recommend checking out the course.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Miracle Milk Bath

This would make a nice last minute Christmas gift, or a gift to yourself to relax  with an inexpensive at-home DIY spa treatment from ingredients that may already be in your cupboards.

This recipe was adapted from Tablespoon and will equal 3 recommended bath treatments (1 cup each), although prefer putting mine in an old Parmesan Cheese shaker and sprinkling or pouring into my bath instead.

The mixture is to be added to a hot bath to detoxify, deodorize and moisture skin.
  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup Epsom Salt (Tablespoon used regular salt instead)
  • 1 Cup Powdered Milk
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • Clean dry container(s) or plastic bags
  • Bowl to mix ingredents in
  • Spoon

  • Printer
  • Scissors
  • Free Lacy Graphic The Graphics Fairy
  • Photo Editing Software
  • Glue or glues stick
  • Gold Acrylic & sponge brush or spray paint

aaPut the ingredients in a bowl
Mix together.

.Pick out the container you want to use and spoon mixture inside

 I used a Free Lacy Graphic The Graphics Fairy to create a vintage looking label.  I used the free version of  Picmonkey to add the text to the label, then cut around the edges and used glue to glue it to the bottle.  
As I wanted it to have a vintage vibe, I used acrylic paint to paint the lid gold, dabbing with a sponge brush, allowing to dry and repeating 3 times.

Linking to:


Happy Crafting:)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (on a Edsel Logo Cake)

For my son's 20th birthday he wanted a vanilla cake with buttercream frosting and minimal decorations and something more "grown up" than past birthday cakes, so I decided to make him an Edsel logo as
he and his father own a 1959 Edsel Villager (pictured left).

I used a boxed cake mix, but went in search on the internet for a buttercream frosting recipe, as I had never made it before and found this super easy and delicious recipe on for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting by Sprinkle's Cupcakes (featured on Oprah).

I used canned decoration frosting to look like the emblem on the front of the car and instead of writing out EDSEL I just used the letter "E".   As the canned frosting did not come out consistently it; there would be nothing and then it would glob out, resulting in less than professional looking results but tasted great and my son loved it.

If I had it to do over, I would use red licorice strands for the logo and lines and just used decoration frosting around the edges.

I wasn't sure how much I would need as the amount was set up to frost cupcakes, so I went for 18 "cupcakes", but probably ended up with enough left over to frost another cake.  The recipe below is what I used, but you can click on the hyperlink and type in number of cupcakes and the software calculates what you will need.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (From Sprinkle's Cupcakes)
  •  1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened (I used unsalted butter)
  • 5 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons milk 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a bowl, combine butter sugar and salt and cream them together (I used a mixer).

Add milk and vanilla and beat 3-5 minutes until creamy.   It came out very thick and I added a teaspoon of water to get it to more easily spread on the cake.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Campfire Starter

Easy to make campfire starters from items you normally throw away.

Some former co-workers and I are going to go on an overnight camping trip in July, which is going to be an adventure for me as the closest I have ever been to camping is staying at Motel 6, but I remembered making these at Girl Scout daycamp when I was young and they are useful for starting a campfire.

Items used:
  • -   Toilet Paper Tube
  • -    Dryer Lint
  • -    Scrap paper or Napkin
  • -    String

Stuff the dryer lint inside the toilet paper then wrap the paper or napkin around the toilet paper tube.

Scrunch the ends into the end of each tube and then tie string around the end to secure.

Linking up to:
30 Days of Creativity
Stutt Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters Stuff