StainlessSteelTeaInfuser

How Well Do You Know Your Teas? Take This Quiz and Find Out

If you are living in the northern United States right now, you have probably had your fill of cold weather, ice and snow. Yes, it’s been pretty tough outside. But one great way to warm up after spending some time shoveling or walking in the cold is to have a cup of hot tea.

But when the kettle is on the boil and it’s time to reach into the cabinet for a tea bag, what type of tea do you choose? How much do you know about the different types of tea? About their tastes, origins and health benefits?

To find out more, take our short pop quiz, then find the answers  and more great tea-related information in this excerpt from Colleen Patrick Goundreau’s book, “Color Me Vegan.”

1. True or false?

All tea comes from the same plant. The only difference is in the way the leaves are processed after harvesting.

2. What type of tea presents the most natural form of tea processed for consumption?

A.) White Tea
B.) Green tea
C.) Black tea
D.) Oolong tea

3. What type of oolong tea tends to have the darker roast and fruitier nature?

A.) Chinese oolong tea
B.) Taiwanese oolong tea

4. What type of tea generally has the highest caffeine content?

A.) Green tea
B.) Black tea
C.) Oolong tea
D.) All teas have the same caffeine content

5. True or false?

Tea and tisane are interchangeable terms for the same drink?

(see answers below)


StainlessSteelTeaInfuser

[Answers: 1.) True, 2.) A, White Tea 3.) Chinese oolong 4.) C, Black tea] 5.) False

More on Tea from “Color Me Vegan”

Evidence about tea’s healthful properties is strong. Because the first people to study the relationship between tea and health were the Chinese and Japanese, they focused on the type of tea that they drink: green. Green tea indeed deserves its lofty reputation, but evidence is mounting that black and other color teas are just as healthful.

The thing to know about the different types of tea is that they call come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub or small tree indigenous to China but also grown in other parts of the world, including South America, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia.

The difference in teas just has to do with what they do to the leaves.

WHITE TEA:

White tea represents the most natural form of teas processed for consumption. Steamed instead of air-dried to stop the oxidation process (which naturally begins occurring once the leaves are picked), white teas are plucked from the downy premature leaves of the white tea varietal and also include some buds. Picked just before the buds have opened, the tea takes its name from the silver fuzz that still covers the buds. Based on Western medical findings, white teas are reputed to be higher in antioxidants than green teas, and they’re extremely low in caffeine.

GREEN TEA:

The next grade is green tea. Green teas have been pan -ired or steamed to retain their color and nutrients, and indeed, green teas have been found to be rich in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. Reputed to increase concentration and prevent heart disease, osteoporosis and many types of cancer, green tea can taste sweet, nutty, buttery, smoky, marshy or floral, depending on the location and time of year the tea was picked.

"P1080290". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P1080290.JPG#mediaviewer/File:P1080290.JPG

Oolong tea. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

OOLONG TEA:

Next you’ve got your oolong teas, which have been semi-oxidized and roasted, containing medium levels of caffeine. Clay teapots—called yixing (ee-SHING) teapots—and other accoutrements were developed by the Chinese and Taiwanese especially for these aromatic and complex teas. Chinese oolongs generally tend to have a darker roast and fruitier nature than Taiwanese oolongs, which are generally greener, with a more floral aroma.

BLACK TEA:

Black teas are fully oxidized through an intense rolling or tearing process. They’re higher in caffeine content than greens and whites, but still moderate compared to coffee. Black teas are called red teas in China because the tea, when brewed, has red colored liquid. Black teas were not widely produced in China until the early 19th century.

PU-ERH TEA:

I would be negligent if I didn’t mention a special type of tea you may not have heard of. It’s called pu-erh (poo-AIR). Pu-erh teas are aged for a number of years under humid conditions. They have an early aroma and a full-bodied flavor, increasing as they age. Pu-erhs come in many forms: loose leaf, compressed into any number of sizes, aged in baskets, bamboo stalks, aged in citrus rinds, and many other forms. Many Chinese drink this tea daily, multiple times a day, to reduce cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and aid digestion.

TISANES:

We tend to call anything “tea” that is made from leaves and steeped in a bag.Technically, however, if it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant, it’s not “tea.” In other words, if dried flowers, herbs, seeds or roots (peppermint, camomile, rooibos, for instance) are infused in water, it’s what’s called a “tisane” and not a “tea.”


Color Me VeganEat by color for more flavorful meals and extraordinary health!

In Color Me Vegan, author and vegan extraordinaire Colleen Patrick-Goudreau brings an edible rainbow of plant-based cuisine to your kitchen table with 150 flavorful recipes designed to boost your health and perk up your palate.

With color as the guiding principle behind each section, Colleen shows vegetarians, vegans, and everyone in between exactly how phytonutrients—the most powerful, pigmented antioxidants on earth, found in everything from select fruits and vegetables, to grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—can be expertly incorporated into your meals for the greatest nutritional punch.

From the “Color Me Blue” chapter, for example, you’ll be treated to recipes such as:

—Radicchio Fennel Salad with Caper Dressing

—Chilled Blueberry Mango Soup

—Lavender-Roasted Purple Onions

—Eggplant with Dengaku (Sweet Miso) Sauce

—Purple Plum Pie with Crumble Topping

From sensational starters and salads, to filling mains and sides, to crave-worthy desserts—in every color—each recipe is not just a feast for your stomach, but a feast for your eyes as well! Check out more about the book at http://www.colormevegan.com.

Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of this traditional flake-style oatmeal.

Are You Having Skin Woes This Winter? Here’s What Might Be Causing Them

The winter is always a trying time for skin. Between the cold temperatures outside and the dry heat inside, it sometimes seems like a full time job to keep ahead of dry, itchy skin.

If you’re looking for some fast-acting, all natural skin relief, a colloidal oatmeal bath may be just the thing for you. Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of the flake-style oatmeal that you have in your breakfast cereal. When it is ground down to this finer state, the oatmeal stays suspended in water, providing a soothing, coating solution for your skin.

Here is some more information about the causes of skin irritation, followed by instructions on how to prepare your own colloidal oatmeal bath, from “The Little Book of Home Remedies; Beauty and Health.

What Irritates the Skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ. A number of things can trigger local skin inflammation, or dermatitis, in sensitive people.

In contact dermatitis, the offending agents come into direct contact with the skin. Examples include poison ivy, nickel jewelry, sheep’s lanolin, topical antibiotics, and ingredients in detergents and body-care products. Radiation administered to cancer patients can also cause dermatitis.

Some people have eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, a condition that tends to run in families, along with hay fever and asthma. Affected patches of skin are red, itchy, scaly, and thickened, and in some cases oozing and crusty. Allergens that provoke the inflammation may be difficult or impossible to identify.

Hives is another skin condition often caused by an allergic reaction. Red, raised itchy patches of skin appear suddenly and may disappear as quickly as they came. Caused by a release of histamine in response to an allergen, hives can be triggered by just about anything—food, sun, dust mites, stress, medication, and more.

Treatment for any of these conditions depends upon the underlying cause. If your watch’s nickel backing left a red, crusty patch on your wrist, you’ll need to replace [the watch]. If you’re allergic to the antibiotic you’re taking, you may need to switch medications and remember to never take that antibiotic again (as the reaction could be more severe next time around).

If you’re allergic to bee venom and are stung, you’ll need an epinephrine injection. If you are prone to hives, a simple antihistamine can often calm the allergic reaction.

If you have eczema, your doctor will probably advise switching to hypoallergenic personal care products and laundry detergent, keeping your skin hydrated, and prescription anti-inflammatory creams for flare-ups.

Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of this traditional flake-style oatmeal.

Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of this traditional flake-style oatmeal that stays suspended in water. Photo by Bill Ebbesen courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Colloidal Oatmeal Bath

2 to 3 cups (160 to 240 g) regular or colloidal oats

PREPARATION AND USE:

If using regular oats, pour them into a food processor, coffee grinder, or blender and blend to a powder. This turns them into colloidal oats. Pour the oats into warm, running bathwater. Disperse oats with your hand. (Alternatively, pour the oats into a sock, bag, or bandana to contain the particles and help with cleanup and place the sock in the bathwater.) Climb in and soak for at least 15 minutes. (Avoid using soap, which only dries and further irritates the skin.) After leaving the bath, pat your skin dry with a clean towel.

YIELD: 1 application

HOW IT WORKS: Oats have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Applied topically, oats moisturize the skin and decrease itching. The gooeyness you feel when you squeeze the sock is caused by the complex carbohydrates in the oats.

Note: You can make a large batch of colloidal oats and store in a tightly sealed jar or tin in a cool, dry place.


LittleBookHomeRemediesBeautyHealthIn this giftable mini booklet of The Little Book of Home Remedies, Beauty and Health, Barbara H. Seeber and Barbara Brownell Grogan join Dr. Linda White to draw on years of training in the area of natural healing to help you treat aches and pains and manageable ailments naturally. This handy guide provides remedies and advice for dry skin, acne, dandruff and more.

Linda B. White, M.D., holds B.S and M.S degrees from Stanford University and an M.D. from the University of California, San Diego. She is the co-author of The Herbal Drugstore and Kids, Herbs, and Health. She served as a medical advisor and contributor to The National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Since 2004, Dr. White has been on faculty at Metropolitan State, Denver, in the Integrative Therapeutic Practices Program in the Health Professions Department.

National Geographic editor and award-winning feature writer Barbara H. Seeber is a 30-year veteran of the publishing world. As an editor for National Geographic Books, she helped launch a number of titles in National Geographic’s line of health books.

Barbara Brownell Grogan, former editor in chief at National Geographic Books, is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, in New York City. At National Geographic she grew the health line of publications, including Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine, Body: The Complete Human, Brainworks, and Guide to Medicinal Herbs, and has worked with health and well-being experts including Joe and Terry Graedon, of The People’s Pharmacy, among others.

At-Home Family Activity: Reveal Invisible Messages Using Spy Juice! (Plus, $2.99 ebook deal!)

Sometimes you just want to be a cool parent. Well, we’ve got a great activity from Liz Lee Heinecke’s book, Kitchen Science Lab for Kids that is a great way to bond with your family with fun activities that teach a lot of important science basics, too.

TODAY ONLY:  For an amazing $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, you can take this amazing book with you anywhere! Get it here!

 

Spy Juice

Excerpted from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids by Liz Heinecke

spy juice1_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke

 

Materials

  • 2 cups (200 grams) whole fresh cranberries
  • Knife
  • Medium-size lidded pot
  • 3 1/3 cups (710 ml) water, plus more for step 7, if needed
  • Sieve or colander
  • Casserole dish or baking pan large enough to hold a sheet of paper
  • Baking soda
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water
  • All-purpose printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Cotton swabs, paintbrushes, or cake-pop sticks
  • Lemon juice (optional)

 

Safety Tips and Hints

Boiling the berries should be done by an adult. Keep the lid on the pot because the air pockets that make cranberries float can also make them explode. Kids can take over once the juice is cool.

You may have to try more than one kind of paper. There are instructions for testing your paper in the protocol.

A cake-pop stick or a cotton swab with the ends cut off make the best pens to use with the “invisible ink” in this experiment.

 

spy juice_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heineckeStep 1: Cut a cranberry in half and observe the air pockets that make it float. 

Step 2: Boil the cranberries in 3 cups (710 ml) of the water for 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Listen for popping sounds as the air in the cranberries heats up and they explode. spy juice3_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke

Step 3: To collect the concentrated cranberry juice, crush the cooked berries and push the liquid through a sieve or colander into a casserole dish or pan that is big enough to hold a piece of paper.

Step 4: Allow the juice to cool. If your cranberry juice seems thick and syrupy, add a little water so that it’s thin enough to soak into paper!

Step 5: Test the paper you want to use by cutting a small piece and soaking it in the cranberry juice. If it stays pink, it will work, but if it turns blue or gray immediately, try some other paper.

Step 6: Make invisible ink by adding a few teaspoons (about 9 g) of baking soda to 1/3 cup (80 ml) of warm water and stir well. Don’t worry if you can still see some baking soda. You can also write messages with lemon juice.spy juice4_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke

Step 7: With a pen made from cotton swab, paintbrush, or cake-pop stick, use the baking soda solution and/or lemon juice as ink to write a message on your paper. It may take a little practice. Let your message air dry, or speed things up with a blow dryer.

Step 8: To reveal your message, place your paper in the cranberry juice and see what happens! spy juice5_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke

 

 

The Science Behind the Fun

Cranberries contain pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-SY-a-nins) that give them their bright color. In nature, these pigments attract birds and other animals to fruit.

These pigments, called flavanoids, change color when they come in contact with acids and bases. Cranberry juice is very acidic, and the pigment is pink in acids, but when you add it to a base, it turns purple or blue.

Baking soda is a base, so your baking soda message will turn blue when it comes into contact with the pigments in the cranberry juice. Eventually, when enough cranberry juice soaks into the paper, it will dilute the baking soda, turning the pigment back to red and your message will disappear!

There are over three hundred kinds of anthocyanins, which are found in many fruits and vegetables. Scientists believe they may have many health benefits.

 

Creative Enrichment

What other natural acid/base indicators could you use to do this experiment? What else could you use as ink?

– – – –

DON’T FORGET TO GET THE KINDLE VERSION FOR ONLY $2.99 ON 2/24/15.


KitchenLabScienceforKidsAt-home science provides an environment for freedom, creativity and invention that is not always possible in a school setting. In your own kitchen, it’s simple, inexpensive, and fun to whip up a number of amazing science experiments using everyday ingredients. Science can be as easy as baking. Hands-On Family: Kitchen Science Lab for Kids offers 52 fun science activities for families to do together. The experiments can be used as individual projects, for parties, or as educational activities groups. Kitchen Science Lab for Kids will tempt families to cook up some physics, chemistry and biology in their own kitchens and back yards. Many of the experiments are safe enough for toddlers and exciting enough for older kids, so families can discover the joy of science together.

Liz Heinecke has loved science since she was old enough to inspect her first butterfly.

After working in molecular biology research for ten years and getting her master’s degree, she left the lab to kick off a new chapter in her life as a stay-at-home mom. Soon she found herself sharing her love of science with her three kids as they grew, journaling their science adventures on her KitchenPantryScientist website.

Her desire to spread her enthusiasm for science to others soon led to a regular segment on her local NBC affiliate, an opportunity to serve as an Earth Ambassador for NASA, and the creation of an iPhone app, with the goal of making it simple for parents to do science with kids of all ages, and for kids to experiment safely on their own.

You can find her at home in Minnesota, wrangling her kids, writing for her website, updating the KidScience app, teaching microbiology to nursing students, singing, playing banjo, painting, running, and doing almost anything else to avoid housework.

Liz graduated from Luther College and received her master’s degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

BenchPressPhoto

How to Warm Up for Weight Training

If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, or if you go to the gym regularly and find yourself pressed for time before a workout, remember this advice from Sean Lerwill; “If you haven’t got time to warm up, then you haven’t got time to train.”

This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how tempting it is to cut corners and skip out on warming up. Trust us, the time you’ll lose recovering from an easily preventable injury is far longer than the time you’ll spend getting your body ready to work out.

Lerwill, a former fitness trainer for British Royal Marines, is the author of the new book, “Body Transformation Manual.” In this excerpt, he details his strategy for properly warming up before hitting the weights.

"Baench practice" by jasonandkehly - jasonandkehly. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Baench_practice.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Baench_practice.jpg

Before you start to work at your training weight in an exercise like the bench press, it is important to warm up with a few rounds of lesser weight in order to loosen up your muscles and prevent injury. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Why Warm Up?

It’s imperative that you spend a few minutes of each session warming up. Besides the obvious reason that it can help you avoid injury, the warm up has many other benefits.

  • It prepares the body for the session to come
  • It thoroughly warms the muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • It increases the core temperature of the body
  • It aids mental focus and prepares the mind for the session to come

How Long Should You Warm Up For?

There’s no real set time for warm up; its length varies depending on its aim, the exercises ahead, the time of day, activity prior to the warm-up and how you’re feeling. You may need a long warm-up to get in the right frame of mind, or you might be raring to go.

Warming Up Before Weight Training

  1. Perform some form of pulse raiser, like a jog, cycle or row. I favor rowing, as it exercises the arms as well as the legs
  2. Perform some mobilization around the joints to be exercised. This can either be very lightweight versions of the exercises to come, or movements similar to them. For example, if legs are about to be trained, bodyweight squats would be a good mobilizer. If the chest is about to be exercised, a few press-up movements in the air before a few slow press-ups themselves would be a good idea. Other useful mobilizers for the upper body include various swim stroke arm movements.
  3. Perform light versions of the exercises to come, slowly building up the weight to the working weight. A good example would be 4-8 reps at 30% [of the]working weight, 4-8 reps at 50% working weight, 4-8 reps at 70% working weight, and 4-8 reps at 80% working weight. Take a little rest between these, but not too much.
  4. Perform the session as outlined.
  5. When you start a new muscle group, ensure you perform step 3 as outlined above for that movement.

BodyTransformation

THE BODY TRANSFORMATION MANUAL

Body Transformations are the most sought-after type of training in the fitness world at present. It is now understood by the leading magazines, gym chains and industry as a whole, that training for a marathon, getting into swimming or general exercise (like squash) will not give people the bikini body or rippling six pack they would like.

Sean Lerwill was the main author for the Haynes Royal Marines Fitness Manual. He has since left the Marines and is currently working as a fitness trainer. He has written numerous fitness articles for magazines and websites, including The Independent, Men’s Fitness and Men’s Health.

How Coloring Mandalas Can Help to Balance Your Left and Right Brains

If you live in a cold weather climate right now, you’ve probably had enough snow for a while. Narrow streets piled high with teetering snowbanks, slow-moving traffic, public transportation systems that just can’t keep up with the weather—it’s enough to cause more than your fair share of stress and anxiety.

One way that we are trying to relax and regain that centered feeling is by coloring some peace mandalas. As Armelle Tyron explains in the excerpt from her book “Coloring Mandalas for Peace,” below, using the mandala design as a tool for coloring (and meditation) is a great way to engage both sides of your brain. This restoration of balance will help you regain that sense of calmness and normalcy that’s been hard to find in the snow lately.

A  Relaxing Form: Try the following experiment: find an image of a cathedral rose window. Your eye will automatically focus on the center and you will be able to see all the elements that make it up without having to move your eye.

RoseSaintMary1

In a cathedral rose window, your eye is naturally drawn to the center of the design. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

Then, find an image of a stained glass window, with scenes and characters from the Bible: this time your eye will be moving around a lot looking for all the different parts of an image.

"StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass MaryJesus" by Toby Hudson - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_MaryJesus.jpg#mediaviewer/File:StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_MaryJesus.jpg

As another example, try coloring with small children. If you give them an image that represents a story, they will invariably start by coloring a bit of the sun, a bit of each character and so on. If you give children a mandala, however, their eyes will immediately be drawn to the center and their coloring will begin there. Like rose windows, the mandala is a relaxing form that allows us to calm ourselves by focusing on the resource point.

Finding Cerebral Balance: The mandala form allows you to find peace and re-center yourself. Coloring it helps you reach a form of cerebral balance. In the region of the neocortex, we have two hemispheres that we also call our Left Brain and our Right Brain.

THE LEFT BRAIN sees everything in detail. It needs to be rational, to explain everything, to understand everything, to put everything in boxes. It is the side of the brain that handles space, time and speech. It is the cerebral side, and processes laws and logic. It is the “adult” side of our brain, practical for the day to day, allowing us to act. It is the energy that we call “masculine.”

THE RIGHT BRAIN perceives everything globally. It is a generalist and is the side used for imagination, intuition and sensations. It is the hemisphere of creativity and inspiration, our “inner child.” It is the feminine energy which lives inside each of us.

LEFT BRAIN: Sees everything in detail: logic, deduction, planning, verifying, handling space, time and speech The communication between the two hemispheres takes place in the corpus callosum.

RIGHT BRAIN: Sees globally Intuition, creativity, arts, imagination, feelings, inspiration

These two hemispheres function in different ways, but neither is “better” than the other; they are complimentary. Nature is permanently seeking balance, and as we are part of nature, so do we. Ideally, the two sides of our brain should work equally. The worlds of school and work mostly require use of our Left Brain. We have to be profitable, productive, efficient, and rational, know everything and be able to explain everything. There is little space for the Right Brain, the side of intuition and imagination. To balance this, we use hobbies and activities to rejuvenate ourselves by using our Right Brain and letting the Left Brain relax.

This means we are constantly moving back and forth between the left and right hemispheres. If we are constantly busy, always chasing success and result, we risk becoming exhausted. On the other hand, if we live too much within our imaginations, we struggle when it comes to daily life and reality. The ideal solution, therefore, is to use both the Left and Right brain at the same time.

Mandalas allows us to find this cerebral balance. When you chose your drawing and your colors, you are using your Right Brain, the size of imagination and creativity. But a mandala isn’t just any drawing, it is a highly organized drawing built upon a structure in which you color every detail.

You are processing space and symmetry, using logic and deduction, and therefore using your left brain as well. With the two sides of the brain working at the same time, connections take place in the corpus callosum, and you are able to get energy back from the hemisphere you use less on a daily basis (we all have a dominant hemisphere). This process allows you to achieve cerebral balance, the source of well-being.


ColoringMandalasForPeaceCOLORING MANDALAS FOR PEACE Soothe your mind, body and spirit with mandalas! A mandala is a drawing organized around its center. It is a universal form that is often found in nature in things like flowers, spider webs, the solar system, or a human cell. Because of its shape and the way it is designed, mandalas allow your eye to rest in the center while taking in the beauty of the whole object. Complete with 200 mandalas in a variety of themes, you will soon be finding relaxation and inner peace. Armelle Troyon is a teacher specializing in network support. She returned to school to study different fields of psychology and devote herself to personal development. Having always been passionate artistic creation, she discovered the Pre Mandalas in 1992. Since 2009, she has been creating albums of Mandalas for children and adults and provides training and conferences in different areas. She also has musical training in voice and piano.

Make Your February Vacation Rock by Introducing Your Kids to This Legendary Song

It’s hard to believe that Stairway to Heaven is celebrating its 44th anniversary this year.

That’s right, the song that marked the end of many a high school dance, drove our parents crazy, and maybe inspired some of us to doodle “Led Zeppelin” on our notebooks during math class, is getting up there in age.

But that doesn’t mean that the song can’t speak to a whole new generation of rockers—even ones that aren’t too far out of diapers.

In fact, as this exercise from the book “We Rock: A Fun Family Guide for Exploring Rock Music History” demonstrates, listening to Stairway to Heaven with your children is a fun way to delve into rock music history and learn about what makes a song truly epic.

Here’s more from the book:

“While the members of Led Zeppelin were inspired by early rock and roll and its roots, they also were part of a generation for whom the music of the psychedelic ’60s was a large influence.

Surreal imagery and “far-out” ideas were the normal, and many songwriters of the time turned to literature for inspiration.

For example, Zeppelin has at least three songs that make reference to, or draw inspiration from, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: “Ramble On,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” and “The Battle of Evermore.”

So, what kind of literature-inspired rock song are you going to write? Will it be a ballad based on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series? How about a scary tune based on the work of Stephen King? Or even take inspiration from Led Zeppelin and update their idea—write a series of tunes about Harry Potter (“The Battle of Hogwarts” anyone?).

At just over 8 minutes and containing four distinct sections of music, “Stairway to Heaven” is an epic song. The changing arrangement helps to paint a picture as it grows and crescendos.

The lyrics are pretty abstract, we can layer different meanings onto it, but the song involves a woman who believes that her love of material things can buy her salvation, which the song suggests is not true. Because the song is long and fairly detailed, focus on the large-scale structure.

Stairway to Heaven

“Stairway to Heaven” photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

0:00 | Opening Acoustic Section: Plucked acoustic guitar and recorders open the song. The recorder is a flutelike British instrument that dates back to medieval times and gives the song a feeling of starting, a long time ago. Listen to how Plant’s voice rises and falls in pitch and volume, sometimes high and loud, and at other times low and soft.

2:15 | Electric Section: For the first time, things take a dramatic step as the strummed guitar opens up a new world of sound—electric instrumentation. We now can hear electric guitars and a Rhodes digital piano (playing the bass part). There are still recorders in the background playing a countermelody to Plant’s vocals. The percussion finally enters the song with a drum fill at 4:15 (!), and brings with it a sense of urgency that the song is really moving ahead. The bass guitar also enters with its own melody.

5:33 | Guitar Solo: Frequently voted one of the best guitar solos in rock history, it receives a proper introduction in the music as the song pauses, then announces the new section like trumpet calls from the castle gates. Listen to the timbre of Jimmy Page’s guitar. It has a touch of distortion on it, giving it an edge, but the tone is also clear, allowing us to hear every bend and fingering.

6:45 | Hard Rock Section: The song’s climactic section lasts only one minute but is a full-out hard rock song with chugging rhythms (listen to the bass, drums, and guitar rhythm between each of the lyric lines), full-out vocals from Plant (compare it to the sound of his voice at the start), and electric guitar melodies in the background (listen carefully).

7:45 | Vocal Ending: As if to remind us what the song was all about, they end it with a short, soft vocal phrase from Plant, “and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.”


We Rock! A Fun Family Guide for Exploring Rock Music History

MusicLab_WeRockFinally! A hip, fun and culturally relevant series of music appreciation books, perfect for modern music-loving families who want to take advantage of this era of exploding musical access! Get a personal guided tour through an amazing historical back-catalog of music that was previously unavailable. We Rock!: A Fun Family Guide for Exploring Rock Music History is a guided tour through thrilling corners of the musical universe that should not be missed! This book highlights great songs in rock history, shares insights and stories on the artists, details the social and historical influences at play, and offers fun activities for families to do together. Detailed listening guides help music fans understand song structure, lyrics, and instrumentation. Related listening lists introduce readers to other exciting artists in similar genres. Set into 52 “music labs,” these stories can be explored at will by individuals and families or used as a curriculum for community groups and educators. There really are no other books out there like this—that are music appreciation books for a general audience that focus on popular music—so pick up yours today and you will have your whole family singing along with We Rock.

Try This Science Experiment With Your Kids This Vacation Week: Climbing Salt Crystals

Just because school is out for February Vacation (for most kids at least), that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Liz Lee Heinecke’s book Kitchen Science Lab for Kids is a great way to fill those vacation hours with fun activities that teach a lot of important science basics, too.

KitchenLabScience1

Watch colorful salt water climb a string and cover it with tiny crystals as it evaporates.

 

CLIMBING SALT CRYSTALS

MATERIALS:

  • String (white cotton kitchen twine works best)
  • Scissors
  • Four small, clear containers, such as jars or cups
  • 2 cups (470 ml) of water
  • Small pot
  • 8 tablespoons (144 g) of salt
  • Food coloring
  • 8 paper clips
  • Magnifying glass

Watch colorful salt water climb a string and cover it with tiny crystals as it evaporates.

SAFETY TIPS & HINTS: An adult should boil the water and supervise kids adding salt to hot water.

PROTOCOL:

Step 1: Cut a piece of string about 6 inches (15 cm) for each container

Step 2: Bring the water to a boil in a small pot

Step 3: Add the salt to the water, a tablespoon (18g) at a time, stirring until no more salt will dissolve. When it cools, this is your supersaturated salt solution. (Fig .1)

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Step 4: Let the mixture cool and then pour about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the salt solution into each container.

Step 5: Add a few drops of food coloring to each jar or cup. Stir. (Fig. 2)

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Step 6: Knot one end of each string you cut and tie a paper clip to the other end. Place the knotted end of a string into each of the containers of colored salt solution. The string will float, so swish it around so it soaks up some salt water. Leave the paper clip end of the string hanging over the outer edge of the container.

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Step 7: Check the string every day to see what happens. Observe the crystals under a magnifying glass.

The Science Behind the Fun: The scientific name for salt is sodium chloride or NaCl. When you add salt to boiling water, you create a super saturated solution that holds more sodium chloride atoms than it would at room temperature.

In this experiment, the salt water is absorbed by the string and climbs all the way out of the jar. When the water evaporates, the salt absorbed by the string remains in the fibers and bonds to other salt molecules to form new, larger sodium chloride crystals on the string.


KitchenLabScienceforKidsAt-home science provides an environment for freedom, creativity and invention that is not always possible in a school setting. In your own kitchen, it’s simple, inexpensive, and fun to whip up a number of amazing science experiments using everyday ingredients. Science can be as easy as baking. Hands-On Family: Kitchen Science Lab for Kids offers 52 fun science activities for families to do together. The experiments can be used as individual projects, for parties, or as educational activities groups. Kitchen Science Lab for Kids will tempt families to cook up some physics, chemistry and biology in their own kitchens and back yards. Many of the experiments are safe enough for toddlers and exciting enough for older kids, so families can discover the joy of science together.

Liz Heinecke has loved science since she was old enough to inspect her first butterfly.

After working in molecular biology research for ten years and getting her master’s degree, she left the lab to kick off a new chapter in her life as a stay-at-home mom. Soon she found herself sharing her love of science with her three kids as they grew, journaling their science adventures on her KitchenPantryScientist website.

Her desire to spread her enthusiasm for science to others soon led to a regular segment on her local NBC affiliate, an opportunity to serve as an Earth Ambassador for NASA, and the creation of an iPhone app, with the goal of making it simple for parents to do science with kids of all ages, and for kids to experiment safely on their own.

You can find her at home in Minnesota, wrangling her kids, writing for her website, updating the KidScience app, teaching microbiology to nursing students, singing, playing banjo, painting, running, and doing almost anything else to avoid housework.

Liz graduated from Luther College and received her master’s degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.