5 Reasons Butter is Better Than Margarine

So why is butter better than margarine? Read on! (Make sure you don’t miss the 2 amazing giveaways at the end of this post, too.)

I love butter. It conjures up wonderful memories from when I was small and my mum baked a week’s worth of bread at once. My brother and I would hollow out a hot, fresh roll and butter the inside as a treat.

Fast forward a here-unnamed number of decades and I now live with my husband and children on our own “farmstead”. Instead of cows, we have dairy goats, which means we get lots of fresh milk and delicious soft cheese, but the milk does not make butter…..not enough fat content.

So why do I buy butter instead of margarine? Here are 5 reasons why it’s better:

Gay Lea Butter Image

1. Taste.
This one is probably self explanatory! If it isn’t, do a blind taste test on a hot baguette, then come back for the rest of the reasons.

2. No trans fats.
Butter will never make the list of healthiest foods, but trans fats (found in margarine) are a man-made product, which according to my research lowers the good cholesterol and raises the bad.

3. Naturally occurring vitamins.
Butter has Vitamins D, A, E and K just as milk does. By contrast, margarine has none unless they are specially added during manufacturing. It’s also worth noting that studies have shown higher fat milk ( so, presumably, also butter) to reduce incidences of diarrhea in the very young and the elderly thanks to a type of fatty acid called Glycospingolipids.

4. No chemical gunk.
Margarine involves a chemical process to squeeze the fat out of vegetables, then hydrogen is added to solidify it. Butter involves skimming the cream off the milk, churning it, and maybe adding salt. I know which I’d rather have. Margarine also often has added color.

5. Butter supports local farmers.
In my case, I know some of the farmers that Gay Lea buys from right here in Ontario and have been to their farms. You can’t get more “buy local” than that! Chances are good that the butter you buy has traveled a very short distance from its source. Who can say that for sure about margarine, not to mention how long it sits around in storage?


Ok, now that you know WHY you should be thinking about switching to butter, here are two great giveaways to help you get going! Winners of each will receive their prize in approximately 4 to 6 weeks.
Giveaway #1- A KitchenAid Stand Mixer (ARV $450) Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

  Giveaway #2 – A year of Gay Lea Products (12 coupons for the products of your choice!)ends on April 30th at midnight so enter right now! Open to Canadian readers (sorry, no QC).

Let’s make entries for this really simple: In the comments for this post, tell me why you like butter and for bonus points you can include a second entry that tells me a fact I didn’t mention here about why butter is better. On May 1st I’ll throw all the entries (printed) into a hat and have D,8, reach up and pick out a name.

5 reasons why butter is better than margarine



Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own

Mr D’s Algebra II for high school

I was compensated for my time reviewing this product and writing this
review. All opinions are my own or those of my daughter M, and we’re nothing if not opinionated!

As you may remember, a while back  I was looking for high school math options  for my daughter M,15. She flat out refused to try some options that looked acceptable to her dad and I, so we opted for a personal finance course this past year while we searched for a solution that made us all happy. You can imagine how delighted we were, then, when we were offered the chance to try out the Mr D Algebra II course! What perfect timing!

Although her dad and I have been observing and I offer my own 2 cents here too, much of this review has been input directly from M, because I thought that her take on Mr D’s Algebra II course was equally as important (if not more so!).

Here’s a basic overview of how a Mr D math course is used:

At first sight, the initial menu can be a bit confusing; it says “go to lessons” but the lessons tab doesn’t show up
until you click on the actual course that you’re doing. After that it’s very easy and intuitive to navigate.

Mr D Algebra II lesson dashboard

This is what you’ll see (along with a calendar on the right) once you’ve logged in. You’ll click on the course link to access the lessons.

Lessons Dashboard


Each chapter is split into video lessons, course work, and tests. You can see examples of the chapters in the screenshot above. Within each chapter there are multiple video lessons (it’s worth noting that the video lessons are in the 140-360p range, something we really appreciated with our limited and sometimes spotty internet!)

Example of Mr D Video Lesson for Algebra 2

As you can see, the videos are clean, clear and easy to view.

The coursework consists of 2 to 5 pages of practice questions for the topic covered in each individual lesson. At the end of each lesson there’s a test. The end of the chapter also has a test encompassing all the subtopics in the lessons. There are also two semester exams.

examples of some questions from Mr D Algebra II coursework

It’s not only b/w pages upon pages with strings of algebra problems to be solved. We all liked the variety.


The course work and solutions can be printed out to make it easier to keep track of, and store, lessons for your portfolio or transcript preparations. M,15 printed and stored tests for the end of the year as she does with all of her classes.

The solutions are also offered below the course work so the student can grade themselves if you so choose. M took advantage of this option and then showed us her reworked solutions and described where she’d gone wrong originally on a problem.

Things that M particularly liked about Mr D Algebra II lessons:

The subjects change fairly quickly, making it ideal for a student (such as M herself) who is able to learn and remember subjects easily. It meant that she could fully digest a concept, master it, and move on instead of bogging down in one thought for a week. Since this was a major complaint about other math programs she has used, this was a big plus!

The lessons are quick and concise so that if a student so chooses, they could do all of the course work and the tests in one day and move to the next subject the next day. See the point above if you have any questions about how M liked this aspect 🙂 Anyone else with quick-thinking students who just want to work through it and move on will no doubt appreciate this too! That being said, they do offer – and how many companies do?- extra math help twice weekly right online with a teacher, should your student get stuck on a topic. This was the part that impressed me the most, since high school math makes me want to curl up under my desk in a fetal position with my fingers in my ears.

The explanations are clear and understandable and the speaker’s evident enthusiasm for the subject made the course very enjoyable. As well as Mr. D Algebra IIMr. D offers a number of high school courses for math, science, and social studies and the video lessons make it easy to access anywhere. For families with a lot of time spent out of the home, this would no doubt be another great feature since they can access it even on an iPad in any coffee shop. In short, this course would fit many high school student’s needs and we encourage you to look at their course offerings when you’re considering what high school math your homeschooler should take next, or looking for a summer course between semesters! We certainly will be heading straight for Mr. D’s courses next time!

Mr D Algebra II can be done anywhere

Proof that the video lessons download so easily that M can do them anywhere on our 9 acres :)

You can find Mr. D on these social media sites.



Mtap (Math Teachers At Play) Carnival for March 2016

Mtap Carnival Mar 2016I am delighted to be hosting March’s Mtap Carnival! It’s late because I had the flu for 10 days – sorry for the delay, I know that we all look forward to reading the contributors’ posts each month. Without further delay, then, here are the great reads you won’t want to miss.


Crystal at Triumphant Learning shared this great post about developing critical thinking skills. She talks about what critical thinking skills are, why we need them, and offers some great practical suggestions on how to develop critical thinking skills in students. You can find Crystal on Twitter, too, at @Tri_Learning.

C. Welsch from Mind Research shared colleague Austin Fringer’s post titled Getting Curious About Geometry Through Visual Math Puzzles.  Austin can be found at @MIND_Research on Twitter; you’ll want to follow him for sure after you see more about how he used this guided puzzle for students to explore deeper connections in geometry through using common manipulatives: coins!

Joshua (@JoshuaGreene19) shared a post from Mike Lawlor’s blog, which he says has many great ideas and isn’t represented enough on Mtap , A Neat Idea About Primes I Saw From Dave Richeson.  

Denise Gaskins from the amazing Let’s Play Math blog and book shared a Kickstarter campaign that I think will interest a lot of us! You won’t want to miss getting more information about helping to fund a new picture book, Tesselation!

From my friend Marin, creator of the Math By Hand curriculum and blog, there’s a great post for grade 3 students about finding patterns in the times tables from 1 to 10. Marin’s teaching is a  hands-on style and the blog posts from 2014-15 cover every Common Core math and language arts standard with a Waldorf perspective, from Kindergarten through Grade 4.

Math Geek Mama has a free lesson out that looks terrific for pre-algebra and algebra skills, called Investigating Exponent Properties.


Last but not least, my own internet wanderings led me to a great post about math journals and notebooks so I thought I’d share them here in case you’re looking for a way to incorporate this into your math learning for any age! Jimmie Lanley, notebooking expert and all-around great writer, wrote this HubPage about all the ways you can enhance learning using  Math Notebooking


Thanks for having me as host for the Math Teachers At Play – it’s been a pleasure and an honor to share in the fun!



Waldorf-inspired geography with WonderMaps: Migration flyways

As part of our ongoing bird studies using the Burgess Bird Book for Children as our “spine”, D8 made a lovely, Waldorf-inspired geography project to show the two most common migration flyways that birds use.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of a flyway, it’s basically a route that certain birds follow each year when they fly south for the winter and back north in the spring. There are many, many different flyways but D chose to show these ones.

I printed a map of North America straight onto watercolor paper with our (so useful!) WonderMaps curriculum.  D used the Waldorf wet-on-wet method – you use a moist sponge to dampen the paper first so that your colors flow when you add them. He loves this so it was no great hardship to get him to display the land and water.

waldorf-inspired geography with Wonder Maps

Waldorf-inspired geography with WonderMaps

I love the care he took with this! He really got into the moment.

Once it was dry, D chose some red embroidery thread. He showed me the two flyways he wanted to show and he drew it lightly with a pencil.He was having trouble not ripping the paper, so I pre-punched the holes with the tip of the needle for him, along his drawn lines. Then off he went with needle and thread!

sewing waldorf-inspired geography project: WonderMap fter painting with watercolorpics feb mar 039 pics feb mar 038 waldorf-inspired geography with WonderMaps: sewing watercolor map

D is so pleased with the result of this project and has glued it proudly into his lesson book. It’s come out several times to show guests, and he has been able to give a great explanation of North American flyways too. Simple idea, powerful geography learning!

Waldorf-inspired geography with Wondermaps: Migration flyways




Easy key lime pie

My friend and neighbor Mary gave me this recipe for the best key lime pie I have ever made! Out here in the boonies, we can’t actually get key limes so I just used regular limes and it was still absolutely delicious.

1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 can condensed milk

2 egg yolks

graham cracker crust

Gay Lea real whipped cream (Why? Because it’s nut-free, made with real dairy, and my 8 year old can help me decorate the pie – the only “danger” is that he may add what some would consider to be too much – no such thing in our house!)

Gay Lea real whipped cream to be used on key lime pieEasy key lime pie image

How to make it:

Blend the lime juice, yolks, and condensed milk together until smooth. Pour into the prepared graham crust and bake for around 15 minutes at 400 F. Cool, decorate, and wolf it down.

squeezing the limes for key lime pie

Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

An easy submarine for kids to make

Happy International Submarine Day! (Yep, that’s a real thing, March 17th.) Here’s an easy submarine that kids can make- best of all, you only need 4 things that are in almost every home to get hours of play from it.

an easy submarine for kids to make

You need:

-a paperclip

-a pen cap

-Blue Tack (or whatever you call that blue stuff that sticks posters to the wall)

-a plastic water bottle – I know, environmental sinning, but your local recycling place probably has one you can use if you don’t want to buy one.

Here’s the video we learned it from:

This was really entertaining, but I wanted to make sure that D8 learned something from it too. We got out The Way Things Work by David McCauley and looked at the page that explained more about ballast tanks, hydroplanes and compressed air and how they’re used to adjust the level of the sub. D speculated that the water entering the pen cap works like a ballast tank, and that squeezing increased the pressure of the water drawing his “sub” down.  Not one hundred percent accurate but enough to show that he has a grasp on the subject!

The Way Things Work

bottle submarine

Why yes, he does need a haircut. There are eyes under there somewhere.

A pile of us bloggers have banded together to create a Submarine Blog Hop. Be sure to check out all the great posts and add your own posts to the link-up below! (The image directly below here is perfect for Pinterest, if you’d like to help share this post. Thanks!)

an easy submarine for kids to make pinterest image
Join us as we celebrate International Submarine Day – 17th March with a whole host of some wonderful submarine activities, crafts and play ideas from around the globe!

Adventures of Adam shares a brilliant Plastic Egg Submarine idea

A great Submarine Pretend Play Periscope idea from Peakle Pie

Try making a Yellow Submarine Collage inspired by Witty Hoots

Pray Species shares an interesting idea with their Submarine Preschool Fun with Foam

Homemade Under the Sea Battleships is another great idea from Kiddy Charts. Use stones and a chess board to make your own battleship under the sea themed game!

Brain Power Boy makes some Perler Beads Submarines that look great and are a super craft too!

The Truck that Wanted to Be a Submarine is a lovely class book review from Kelly’s Classroom

Play and Learn Everyday make and explore a Submarine in a Bottle!

An Easy Submarine for Kids to Make sounds like amazing fun from The Usual Mayhem

Little Bins for Little Hands explore some wonderful Submarine Science!

How to use essentials oils in the car

We’ve hit the part of the year where our cars are more likely to smell like wet winter boots than fresh summer breezes! If you’re like me and you want a natural solution to freshening the air and the carpets, using essentials oils in your car are the solution. As an added bonus, you can fight cold and flu germs while you make the car smell amazing!

Here are a few uses for essential oils in your car, and some blends you’ll love. One or two of these choices is plenty for any car….a little goes a long way.

how to use essential oils in the car

On a diffuser.

The one I like the best comes from Mountain Rose Herbs and sells for $3.95 US (and yes, they ship all over the place). These are gorgeous ceramic discs that hold the scents of your essential oils in your car, and look great doing it. I have one hanging from my rearview mirror, and one on a hook in the enclosed cargo area of my truck.

On cotton balls.

Do not place these directly onto the plastic of your car unless sticky messes and damaged plastic appeal to you! That said, a few cotton balls with a few drops (maybe 5-10) of your essential oil blends on each can be tucked down into seats, or under them. Obviously you’ll want them out of reach of bored small children who may decide to taste test them.

In a spray.

 A small plastic spray bottle with a couple teaspoons of vodka, 20-25 drops of your essential oil blend, and the rest filled with filtered or distilled water can be sprayed as needed. Do not spray essential oils near your kids’ faces or onto pets! I usually spritz mine around just as I’m getting out of the car at the end of the ride, once the car is clear of its riders. It sits in a spare cup holder beside my seat.

In a powder.

If you’re planning to vacuum out the carpets and seats, you can sprinkle this essential oil powder blend onto all the fabrics in your car an hour ahead to overnight before vacuuming. 2 cups of baking soda and 25-40 drops of your essential oil blend will take care of all but the nastiest smells. It’s especially effective on “eau de damp dog”. In our case, it’s sometimes used for eau de baby goat too, when they’ve been visiting the vet!

On to the blends!
If you like citrus, go for grapefruit and lemon. The grapefruit is excellent for alertness; the other is to keep the scent light and fresh.
If you’re looking to ward off colds and flu, consider clove oil (a drop or two only) mixed with orange, patchouli, frankincense, and/or an evergreen essential oil like cedar or pine.

For a generally good smell and feel year round, peppermint and lavender are naturals together. They’re not a heavy scent combination but they have great concentration as well as feel-good properties.

Rosemary and lemon is another great combination.


Now it’s your turn! Share your natural living, green living, and eco friendly posts below so we can pin them and share them! And make sure you visit my co-host Freshly Planted too for her weekly natural living post!

Bird beak adaptations

This week, D8 and I looked at bird beak adaptations and how they fit the kind of food that different birds eat.
bird beak adaptations cover image
I can’t remember if I mentioned that my friend Cassidy at Freshly Planted and I have teamed up to offer our kids a fun unit using the Burgess Bird Book as our reader – if not, now you know and I’ll share the activities we’ve done so far at the end of this post!

I got out bird seed, popping corn, nyger seed, dried cranberries ( to represent insects) and some herbs in a bowl of water. I also offered toothpicks, different kinds of pliers, a small sieve, and a spoon to represent some kinds of bird beak shapes.

bird beak adaptations hands-on science

I laid them all out and challenged D to figure out which bird beak would work best for each kind of food task.


bird beak for insects

Nyger seed:

bird beaks for tiny seeds

Sunflower seeds and corn:

bird beak adaptations seeds

Water plants:

bird beak adaptations water plants

We also piled them all in together because as D pointed out they are often mixed together in a feeder or in nature.

bird beak adaptations

It’s a lot harder to get your own food when it’s all together!

This led to a discussion of his frustration with the popping corn not cracking in the “beak” (flat tipped pliers) he had chosen, so we decided to try it on real birds. We first brought in one of our hens who came to us with a clipped beak, making the tip more blunt like his pliers. She went for the dried cranberries but not the seeds.

bird beak adaptations

Completely unrelated, but I’m super happy with these curtains that I sewed out of a vintage silk sari!

Next, we brought in one of the chicks from last fall who has the original sharp-tipped beak she was born with. She ate everything except the nyger seed. After seeing this, D selected a different set of pliers with more of a needle nose and tried again with greater success.

bird beak adaptations

He speculated about why a chicken’s beak might share some characters with that of a bird of prey and finally concluded that it must be because a) they are originally from jungles in Africa, and b) they eat large insects like moths and grasshoppers, so they need to be able to tear as well as nip their food.

Next week, we’ll be looking at the anatomy of an egg, so we have a bowl of vinegar on the kitchen counter with an egg from one of our hens in it. This dissolves the shell so that you can see inside, as well as offering many bouncing-egg opportunities.

egg shell dissolving in vinegar

Other bird posts you won’t want to miss:



We’ll be posting for the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Easy nature craft for kids: Make a twig star

This twig star tutorial is an easy nature craft for kids! Use it on a wall as art, on a door instead of a wreath, or hang a pile of them from the ceiling. We have them all over the place at the moment.

Send your kids outside to get 15 thin branches. I told D8 to make them all about the same thickness, and the length from his elbow to his middle fingertip as a guideline, but it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re all more or less the same length….we trimmed slightly longer ones as we went. He got himself branches of dogwood, which made for a very pretty star.

twig star nature craft for kids 001

Have the child place them into piles of three. Throw in some skip counting, because no homeschool day is complete if you don’t slide in some math!

twig star nature craft for kids 002

Place two sets of two bundles together (so 6 twigs) and attach one end together with twine or string or elastics. You’ll have one bundle of three left over; set them aside for a minute.

twig star nature craft for kids 003

Lay the first bundle of six out like this:

twig star nature craft for kids 004

Now lay the next bundle of six out on top of them like this:

twig star nature craft for kids 005

This is a good time to trim them so that the ends are more or less the same length as one another. You get a straighter star that way.

Tie the bottom left ones together.

twig star nature craft for kids 006

Take the last bundle of three and lay them across like this. Join the outside ends so that it makes a star. Even the shape up a bit (there will be some flexibility at the tied ends).

twig star nature craft for kids 007


Take some string or twine or ribbon or wool or finger knitting chains and wrap each join in a sort of criss-cross to strengthen it. Tie it off at the back. Here are two ways you can wrap the wool or ribbon or whatever to decorate it:

twig star nature craft for kids 009

twig star nature craft for kids 010



Hang your twig star and enjoy! (If you’re looking for another fun idea to do with twigs once you’re finished, Fireflies and Mud Pies blog shared this great invitation to play, Building With Sticks and Playdough!)

Are you following my Nature study and Waldorf-y boards on Pinterest yet? There are lots more fun nature crafts on them!



5 Minute bird’s nest breakfast! (With recipe)

D and I have been working on a bird unit study to go with the Burgess Bird Book, and this easy 5 minute bird’s nest breakfast was the first recipe I surprised him with this week to launch the project! You can make breakfast for the entire family quickly and easily, and using whatever fruit you have around (as long as at least one of them is melon).

5 minute bird's nest breakfast


I’ve made a printable recipe card for you so that you don’t have to leave your laptop near a bunch of fruit juice!

5 Minute "bird's nest" breakfast

5 Minute


  • -A melon, cut in half (I used seedless watermelon, but any melon would do)
  • -any other fruit that you can slice ....I used kiwi and pineapple
  • -Gay Lea Nordica cottage cheese
  • -a bird cookie cutter and an egg cookie cutter
  • -(optional) pumpkin, sunflower, hemp hearts, flax and/or chia seeds to sprinkle on top


  1. Take your cut-in-half melon and cut out a good chunk of the melon inside it. I used seedless watermelon because it gave me lots of extra flesh to work with.
  2. Slice the flesh you cut out into fairly thin slices (about 1/2 inch or so thick). Use your cookie cutter to cut out a bunch of egg shapes, about half a cup of fruit in all for each "nest".
  3. Slice your last fruit (in my case, pineapple) into slightly thicker slices and cut out your bird shape.
  4. Add half a cup of your Gay Lea cottage cheese into the "nest" melon. Arrange your egg shapes and your bird, add any additional toppings, and serve with a spoon!
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Here are the steps quickly:

Take your cut-in-half melon and cut out a good chunk of the flesh. Slice the flesh into slices roughly 1/2 inch thick and use your egg cookie cutter to make a pile of eggs for your family’s bird’s nest breakfast.

Cutting eggs for 5 minute bird's nest breakfast 009

Slice your next fruit about the same and cut out more eggs.

slicing fruit to make eggs for the 5 minute bird's nest breakfast

Take your last fruit (in this case, pineapple) and cut it a little bit thicker if possible. Use your bird cookie cutter to create a bird for each “nest”.

pineapple bird for bird's nest breakfast 012

Add about half a cup of Gay Lea Nordica cottage cheese to your melon “nest” bowl and arrange your eggs and bird. Add your additional toppings if you’re using them, or serve with whole grain toast to round out a healthy and playful breakfast.

Eating the 5 minute bird's nest breakfast 01

Why Gay Lea Nordica cottage cheese?

  • Gay Lea’s Nordica Cottage Cheese is made from 100% Canadian dairy milk?
  • High in protein. Just 1/2 cup provides 15g of protein that is low in fat.
  • A great source of calcium
  • Gluten and nut free

Are you following me on Pinterest yet? If not, you should be – I have many fun themed boards with great pins from all over the interwebs! Don’t miss our newest posts and see others that I share!

5 minute bird's nest breakfast Pinterest image

Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.




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