Learning Loving Living Life

Adventures through life schooling and beyond.


Adventures and Activities

Creating with Cardboard

There are a few items that are necessities to have on hand not only for fixing things around the house, but because they are great learning tools, and can be used by the imagination to create all sorts of things. A few of the items we have come up with are duct tape, wire, shaving cream, hot glue guns, baking soda, vinegar, rubber bands, and last but not least, cardboard.

I started saving all my boxes, for one, because they come in handy for shipping and various other things, but also because I didn’t want to fill my recycling bin up too much…it already gets quite full, being that it only gets picked up every other week. So the pile was getting quite high, when I was happy to hear my daughter ask if she could use some.

So off she went, glue-gun, cardboard, and fabric scraps in hand, to build some doll furniture. She started off building a few tables, chairs, beds, and a swing:


She then moved on to using whole boxes as rooms or houses, such as this dressing room/shower/salon room:



Being a 9-year-old girl, my daughter is also very interested in the Monster High dolls. She has a lot of them, and they didn’t have anywhere to sleep, so she decided to make them all beds:




She printed out an egyptian dog and dog guards for Cleo de Nile.



Clawdeen Wolf got a nice animal print spread.



A nice icy/snowy bed and make-up table for Abbey Bominable.



A garden bed for Venus McFlytrap.



Can’t really see in this pic, but  Frankie Stein’s “electric” bed raises up and down.


aguna’s under-the-sea bed includes shell and bubble accents, complete with a bedside drink holder.



ince Draculaura’s favorite color is pink, and she adores hearts, this canopy bed fits her perfectly.

Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! 🙂






Our New Backyard Habitat




Ahhh, Spring! The weather is warming up, birds are chirping, and there is vibrant life-energy everywhere! This also means it is a busy time of year, which is why I haven’t had a chance to post in a while. Thought I would just share a bit of what the kids have been up to for much of the time lately, in pics:)

Feelin’ Free!

Trampoline’s also create a lot of static electricity

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So far, we have had no injuries. Life is a risk:)


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They even attract Fairies.


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…and Mermaids!



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It’s fun to do some dance moves, before you pop!


Even the spring snow couldn’t keep her away:)…It melted quickly.

We have even slept under the stars on our trampoline already. The big dipper was framed in the middle of the net circle. I know we will be doing that again. Trampolines are awesome! 🙂


The Mermaid Project: Part 3


Ever since we created the mermaid habitat, my daughter has wanted to have an actual mermaid tail to wear. We looked online, and discovered that it wouldn’t be that hard to make one, so for Christmas, I got her a monofin and some stretch lycra fabric. She worked really hard on her tail, and it came out beautifully! She makes a perfect mermaid:)


First, we layed the fabric out and traced around her body while she was wearing the fin. A paper pattern can also be traced and cut out, which may make it a bit easier, but we found that chalk directly on the fabric worked ok.

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She then cut out the tail and pinned it around the edge.

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Next, it was time to sew! She did a great job with the machine, staying even. She then put in some elastic, and I helped her finish the seams.


She then inserted the fin, and it was done! Beautiful mermaid transformation!

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Check out the video of the mermaid swimming:

Magical Mermaid Amani



The Food Project: Weeks 3 and 4

About the project:
We are doing a learning experiment for one month where I (Asante) will buy and prepare my own food. My weekly budget is $40. I may only use some of the rest of the family’s food if I ask first or trade.

Asante’s thoughts:

I started out by collecting recipes that I was going to use throughout the week. Some of the recipes I chose to use for week 3 were nachos, salad, and hashbrowns. I bought more of a balance between junk food, protein, carbs, fruits, and veggies. But then I mostly used all the carbs and not alot of my veggies so some of them turned bad. One night I did made the nachos and other nights I cooked some other stuff like pasta. For week 4 I also tried to balance my foods and bought things like broccoli, bell pepper, and carrots, gouda cheese, crackers to go along with the stuff I got like pizza rolls, icecream, applejacks, etc. I got boneless chicken tenders to make my dad’s fried chicken recipe (posted below.) Once again though, I didn’t always cook well and use my veggies and good food because I got tired or lazy. Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I used some of my mom’s ingredients to make a chocolate bourbon pecan pie and she used some of my kale in exchange.

I thought this project was going to be interesting and fun, but after I tried it, I realized I didn’t feel like cooking most of the time and I started to get sick because I wasn’t eating enough healthy foods. I would do this again if I had a little more money to spend, and was less tired at the end of the day. I learned that it is hard buying and cooking food every single day and sometimes it is easier to eat junk food.

Mom’s thoughts:

It’s been a busy few weeks, but I am proud of Asante for doing this project and sticking it out for the month. For weeks 3 and 4 he really listened to me about balancing his foods, and made smarter food choices (though I know he also enjoyed the freedom to buy junk food stuff I would never get.) He didn’t buy anything organic though, as it is more expensive and he wanted to be able to buy a few extra things like chips and cookies. He did look at cookbooks for some ideas, but I don’t think he really stuck to making any of the recipes, except fried chicken. For Thanksgiving, he did get into the baking mode, and his chocolate bourbon pecan pie was fantastic! I’m not sure what recipe he used for his crust, but it came out perfectly. He also had a few issues with the girls getting into his food supply, as he bought way more junk food than I usually buy, and they couldn’t stay away from it:)

Though I wish he would have been inspired to be creative and cook more, I think this was still a great learning project. Though he didn’t want to write too much about it, I think he learned a lot about nutrition, the cost of food, and the time and energy it takes to prepare it. I thought it was good that he noticed how he was feeling after eating certain foods. He also realized that a lot more goes into meal planning than he thought. He says above he wishes he had a little more money to spend…don’t we all! But the reality is, we live on foodstamps, and our budget is $630/month, or $157/week for a family of four. I think it is good that he learned about the challenges involved in buying and preparing meals on a budget like this. We are going back to me doing the shopping and cooking for most meals, but he said that he would like to help more and maybe make one meal a week. I missed having him at the table as he ate seperate from us a lot. It would also be great to have him help more, as I also get burned out and tired of cooking all the time by myself. It is always more fun cooking with someone:) We may try a variation of this project again, maybe in the summer when Asante is out of school, and maybe the girls can participate more. I will continue to encourage Asante in his cooking and baking passion and talent, and I’m sure we will have more fun food adventures to write about in the near future! 🙂

Fried Chikin Recipe 

Chikin tenders
3 tsp. seasoning salt
1 tsp. garlic
1 c. milk
2 c. flour

put 1/2 tsp garlic and 1 tsp. seasaning salt in the milk. dip chikin in milk.  put rest of garlic and seasoning in the flouer put it in a bag and shake so flour covers everything .

deepfry on medium till golden broun.


seasoning salt:
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Pour the blend into an empty spice bottle to store.


Previous posts:





The World Through A Doll’s Eyes: North America

We have a wonderful museum in our town, The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center. They currently have an exhibition going on entitled “Around the World in 80 Dolls,” which takes the classic novel by Jules Verne and displays dolls from the countries all over the world that the character(s) in the book visited. When I heard about this exhibition I thought “I could probably do a display like that!” I have been collecting dolls from around the world since I was a young child. Every time my grandparents and my father would travel, they would bring me back dolls from where they had been. I have also picked up dolls from my own travels and elsewhere throughout the years. I have always wanted to display them more, but I have so many, and no room or a large enough display case. As I was putting away the few that I had pulled out for Halloween/Day of the Dead and looking at their beautiful details, I had an idea.  Why not start a sort of online “museum” display? I have so many dolls from so many countries rich with tradition, and the dolls tell stories about those traditions through their dress and details. I can pull out a certain group each month and I will post a little bit about some of the dolls and a bit about the traditions and holidays of the region/country of those dolls. This is also an activity that my girls will love, and will teach them about different cultures and traditions, as well as the history of dolls and how various dolls have been made. It will also be an opportunity for me to display and enjoy my beautiful collection!

For November, I will start with North America, or more specifically the United States and Canada, and the tradition/holiday of Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving is a holiday that is celebrated in the United States on the 4th Thursday in November. It was made a national holiday on Oct. 3, 1893 by president Lincoln, but dates back many many years before that.

The main story of Thanksgiving that is told is the one of the 3 day feast held in 1621 between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. It was a celebration of a successful corn harvest and was a way of sharing and giving thanks between the two groups of people. There is some controversy around this however, as there was so much controversy between the European settlers and the Native Americans, and some people disagree with the celebration of this history. This is really only one story that was written in our history, and it has kind of shaped how and when the holiday is celebrated, but theses types of celebrations date back way before that time.

Harvest celebrations have been going on for thousands of years by many different groups of people. The pagan celebration of Mabon, celebrated during the autumn equinox is a celebration of thanks for the harvest and the changing seasons. Many Native American tribes celebrated the harvest with ceremonies such as the Green Corn Dance.

The celebration that took place in 1621 was not religious, as the puritans did not believe in public religious displays, but it later became a holiday infused with religious ceremony and tradition, when in 1789 a member of the House of Representatives moved that “a day of Thanksgiving be held to thank God for giving the American people the opportunity to create a Constitution to preserve their hard-won freedoms.” The motion was approved, and the president George Washington then proclaimed that the people of the United States observe “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” on Thursday, the 26th of November (made a national holiday in 1893.) Today, some people still have religious services on Thanksgiving, but it is mostly just a day in which families and friends can come together to share abundance, tell stories, and give thanks for all the blessings in their lives.

Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving, but it is held on the 2nd Monday in October, and is not quite as big a holiday as in the United States.


The Dolls:

I have a wide assortment of European-American and Native American dolls made from all sorts of materials. Several of my dolls are made from corn cobs and husks. This type of doll used to be made by Native Americans, and was then taught to the early European settlers who adopted this art form and way to make toys for the children out of the resources they had. I also have a doll made from clothespins, a spinning bobbin, straw, and a seed pod.

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One of my dolls is a cloth doll from Plymouth Rock, dressed in traditional pilgrim wear:


I also have two “kitchen” dolls, a wonderful grandmother churning butter,


and the figure of a black doll that is also a dinner bell. Semi-controversial because of the painful history of slavery, but part of our history none the less.


Among my European-American dolls are also a set of Amish, who began immigrating to Pennsylvania in the 18th century.


I also have many Native American dolls of different types. Several of them are Navajo, and show various aspects of Navajo life such as weaving, riding horses, grinding corn, and caring for the children.


I also have this very old doll, made with horse hair:


A hunter in buckskins


And one of my favorites, a dancer. She has so much movement and life:)


The one doll I have from Canada is this beautiful Eskimo.


The early American dolls I have are a beautiful representation of a combination of cultures in the United States and Canada. Through their dress and activities they come together to tell a rich story of tradition and history in North America. In the tradition of Thanksgiving, I will close by giving thanks for all the beautiful cultures around the world that are able to share their stories through dolls. 🙂





Embracing Change

This morning, I was going deep into my emotional self, exploring some inner feelings and truths, so I thought, why not keep going, and decided to head to Lyons with my family to walk around for the first time since the floods, and feel whatever came to us. Some pictures of our favorite parks from before and after are below. I dedicate this poem I wrote to not only Lyons, and the people of Lyons, but to myself, and to all of us, for we are always changing.

She is in change.
What she was, or will be, just out of range.
Caught in a place shadowed by memories of the past.
Filled with amazement at the present that does not last.
Pulled into dreams by the lullabies of what could come.
Underneath it all, you can hear a quiet hum.
It is the song of life she sings under her breath.
A reminder that there really is no death.
Just a shifting of energies, a necessary to change,
And change is what’s constant, and though it seems strange,
It is what keeps us expanding, bringing new dreams into range.
Embracing it all with love is the key.
What brings it together to set her heart free.

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The Food Project: Week One

About the project:
We are doing a learning experiment for one month where I (Asante) will buy and prepare my own food. My weekly budget is $40. I may only use some of the rest of the family’s food if I ask first or trade.

My Thoughts:
This week was the first week going into this project so I didn’t really know what to get. Since I didn’t know what to get I feel like I got too many veggies and fruits so I didn’t have enough quick-snack  foods. I had to cook a lot of the stuff I got. I almost survived on bagels and cream cheese. I had one every day for breakfast and some even for dinner. I also ate a lot of pasta. I had pasta with butter for 2 nights. I didn’t really cook many veggies because I was so tired at night. For lunch I just got a school lunch except for Sunday and Saturday. On Sunday I munched on bread all day. One of my dinners I had a roasted kale salad recipe I came up with a while back (posted below) which was pretty good. One of my other dinners my mom didn’t have ingredients for a salmon croquettes so I let her use some of my ingredients in exchange for me getting to eat some. On Thursday I went out to eat with my grandma and ate a bunch of things with meat, and now my stomach is kind of hurting. I learned that I need to balance out my veggies with the carbs like pasta and bread, but it is not always easy to prepare good food when I am tired after school. Next week I think I will get more snack foods and less veggies and fruits.

That’s it see you next week.

Mom’s thoughts:
I heard about doing something like this from a friend of mine who was doing it with her family, and enjoying it. When we first decided to do this, I had no idea how it would work out, but thought it would be a great way for my son to learn about the cost of food, nutrition, and  food preparation, as well as expand on his passion of cooking and give him some new skills. The budget of $40 is the actual weekly amount per person of our food budget for a family of four, so I thought it would give him some perspective on some aspects around food that he hasn’t had to think much about, like how to plan good food for every meal with that amount of money. It will also be a good lesson on what it is like to have to cook and prepare the food all the time. I am pretty confident in his cooking skills, and so have been looking forward to seeing what he comes up with for his meals. He has free rein on his food choices and what he decides to cook or eat. I will, however, be talking to him about nutrition, and maybe giving him some pointers or suggestions for good nutritional balance, etc.

For his first shopping trip, he rode his scooter to the store, and I picked him up. I had to smile when I saw him carrying bags full of fruits and vegetables:) He was very thoughtful and careful with his shopping and came home with absolutely no junk food (unless you count bagels and cream cheese, but not when your that age.) He got apples, bananas, avocado, kale, broccoli, carrots, green beans, onion, cheese, bread, pasta, bagels and cream cheese, and a few baking supplies like flour, salt and sugar. I was quite interested to see how he did with all these foods that needed to be prepared, considering he loves to snack on chips, crackers, and cookies, but I didn’t say anything. He did well with not asking me for food (I didn’t really have anything in the house much he likes anyway), and started off well, making his delicious kale salad and biscuits, but I noticed as the week went on he got tired or lazy and didn’t cook as much. I understand this, as the same thing happens to me. I get tired of having to cook every single night, even after a long day. He started eating the quick things like bread and pasta. He did eat more fruits for snacks, which I thought was good, but he said he felt like it wasn’t enough. I think he was happy when I offered to cook in exchange for using some of his food. It is nice to have a break from having it all on you, and to have some community around food. I think overall, the week went well. We will see how he does next week…I have a feeling he will be opting for a bit more junk food, but we will see. I will continue to encourage him to cook balanced, healthy meals, and to think outside the box and put his creativity and joy to work. I am having fun doing this project with him, and am learning a lot about my own thoughts on food along the way 🙂


Roasted kale salad



1-10 you need 1 clove 10-20 2 cloves so on and so on garlic




bell peppers

a pinch of cumin

ground ginger


ume plum vinegar



garlic powder

olive oil

First you put in Olive oil than put in carrots celery cilantro bell peppers garlic onion than put in kale than you put in spices than before you heat toss in olive oil. heat two minutes then add ume and toss. heat until kale gets heavy enjoy!

my page link:

Altar Of Love/Offrenda De Amor


For my beautiful grandmother, Jane Elizabeth Wiersema
Feb. 11, 1917-May 6, 2013

I am not religious, but have been exposed to many different ceremonies and traditions from many different cultures. There are aspects to many of these that I appreciate and enjoy, and so I have adopted my own various traditions and ceremony that I do at home. One of my favorite traditions is Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This is a beautiful holiday that honors those that have passed on from this life, and celebrates who they were and still are. It acknowledges that death is a part of life, and not something to fear, but to celebrate as a new journey. Our local museum has a wonderful display and celebration of Dia de Los Muertos that is always fun to attend. One of the main traditions of this holiday that we do every year, is to create an altar for a loved one/s. This year, we dedicated our altar to our grandmother, who passed away in May.

Altars can be made in various ways, and are really just a way to pay tribute to who a person was in this life, and to honor their passage on to a different place, with love. In Mexico, very large altars are built for loved ones on the days leading up to Nov. 1, and  on Nov. 1 and 2, processions are held leading to the graveyards where flowers are placed over the graves and a feast is held to honor the spirits and family members that have passed. Typically, November 1 is the day that infants and children are honored, and November 2 is the day that adults are remembered and honored. There are also several elements that tend to be common in the altars, and can be a good way to start building your own.

Most traditional Day of the Dead altars have several levels. The top level usually contains photos of the loved one, and also represents the spirit.  The top level of our altar contains various photos of our grandmother and our family, as well as a cross representing the four elements, earth, air, wind, and fire. It also is important for this level to have a candle to light for the one being remembered/honored. When we were building this, we had so much fun going through pictures and remembering good times:)

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The lower level of the altar usually has various items the loved one enjoyed during their life, and represents the physical. On one side of our altar we placed some of our grandmother’s jewelry and personal items, as well as soap, water, and a mirror, traditional items that are placed for the spirits to refresh and clean themselves after their long journey.


On the other side of our altar, we placed a deck of cards, as our grandmother enjoyed playing cards with her friends and with us (I always beat her at speed, but she said she still enjoyed playing and it was good for her arthritis:) She also enjoyed bourbon with soda and bitters, as well as Fannie May chocolate, which is hard to find here in Colorado, so I had to substitute;) Salt is also a traditional part of the altar, and serves to purify spirits. We used a bowl of salty nuts, to serve both as salt for grandma’s spirit, and also a nice snack to have with her bourbon bitter:) A traditional incense made of tree resin, called Copal, is also burned in order to cleanse the altar of negative energy and spirits, and attract the good. We used a natural pine tree scented incense, as our grandmother liked the smell of fresh pine. We also blessed the altar with a sage burning and prayer.


Some other elements we placed on the altar are a snowman and tree that were my grandmothers, as well as a pumpkin candy dispenser, as she always loved decorating for the holidays, and always gave out candy on Halloween.


We placed the grandmother storyteller skeleton on the altar to honor the fact that our grandmother was the one in the family that remembered all the names and stories of all our various family members. She kept track of everything, and would remind us about our history through little stories told here and there.


Another important aspect to  the altar is flowers. Marigolds are the traditional flower in Mexican altars and Dia de Los Muertos art and ceremony. They represent death, and are said to attract the spirits to the home and altar. In Mexico, marigolds are fashioned into huge archways, and marigold petals are spread on pathways to homes and to cemeteries, so loved ones may find a path home and back again. They are also a bright and vibrant smelling flower, so they have attractive and celebratory qualities. My grandmother loved flowers, and almost always had fresh flowers of some sort in her home. She had magnificent rose bushes around her house and yard, and I remember going outside with her to pick the best ones to cut and display on the table:)


A few other aspects usually on traditional Mexican altars are beautiful paper cut outs, representing the element of wind. We did not make these this year, but instead, used paper flowers. Also we may make later today some sugar skulls, symbolizing that life is sweet, and pan de muertos that represents the soul. If we run out of time, we will head down to our local panaderia, where we can purchase this beautiful and tasty treat:) It really doesn’t matter if you follow a traditional route of creating the altar or not. Creativity and fun is a big part of it. Creating this altar has been a fun and educational experience for both me and my kids, and has been a way to remember and connect to who our grandmother was. It is also a wonderful way to present death, as something that is not to be feared, but celebrated in love.  As my 3 year old said when she looked at the completed altar, it is also “a celebration of life!”




The Mermaid Project: Part 2

As I explained in my first post about this project, my girls love mermaids. We have taken the opportunity to expand on their interest, and have embarked on a very creative, hands-on learning experience, and have transformed the kids bathroom into a mermaid habitat:)

One of the first projects we did for the habitat, as I mentioned in my previous post, was to make jellyfish. We hung them in the bathroom, along with blue streamers, to make it look more like they were under water. We also printed out some tropical fish coloring pages, and traced them onto another piece of paper so they would have 2 sides.  When we were done coloring them we stuffed them with newspaper to make them “3-D” and hung them up.


A friend of my moms heard about our project, and that the girls had never been to the ocean, and gave them an amazing bag filled with sea items she had collected from various trips. It was like opening a treasure bag! The girls and I had so much fun going through everything. There were many many shells, a fan coral, ocean rocks and wood, feathers from sea birds, sand dollars, an urchin, and even various bags of sand, each a different type from different locations. She also let us borrow an amazing book about shells, so that we could look up and identify various types. We had so much fun looking these up, as well as other creatures online. Did you know that the little sea-bird shaped bones in the sand dollars were once it’s mouth?
The girls organized the shells by type, color, and size, and my youngest even made a giant shell “wave.”


Now that we had so many shells for decoration, we decided to begin building a mermaid throne. We measured and cut a cardboard “shell” to fit on the “throne” and the girls painted and decorated it with shells, stones, and other items. They then made a smaller one for one of their dolls:)


My older daughter was so inspired by creating the thrones, she decided to make some mermaid costumes for her dolls. She did this completely on her own (I was not in the room) with some fabric and a glue gun. She then went on to make a fairy outfit, and an evening ball gown. She says she wants to design fashion when she is older.


Another fun activity we did as part of our project was to make bath paints. We took a mixture of soap (we used dish soap), corn starch, and food coloring, and painted our own coral reef. We also looked up various types of seaweed and tried painting the different kinds. We learned that seaweed is not considered a plant, but an algae, and there are three main types: brown, green, and red.


Yet another activity we did, was to fold origami sea creatures. We got a pack of 12, with instructions, at our local dollar store! They were easy enough for my oldest to do herself (except the darn shrimp!) and the younger one helped me crease. My fingers were, however, a bit sore when we were done!


For the final part of our habitat, we decided to make a spa/tide pool for the mermaids. We filled the sink with things that might be in a real tide pool (I can’t wait to take the girls to the coast to see the real thing one day!) and created a hot tub area, and beauty salon for the mermaids. We set up a beach area on the ground, with the different types of sand in different containers with shells and sea glass for the mermaids to dig for. The girls had so much fun comparing the different sands by touching them and looking at them, and spent a long time just burying and digging out the shells in the containers. Once we were finished, we had a party for the mermaids, and even wrote tiny invitations on shell shaped paper:) The mermaids had a blast swimming and playing in the sand and getting their nails done with tiny shells at the salon. They even had real “sea kelp delight” snacks to eat.


After all those fun activities, I think we are finished with the mermaid habitat, for now. We may have a few activities to add later. The love for these creatures hasn’t faded though, but is expanding elsewhere. My oldest is now planning on creating a costume mermaid tail for her to wear in the bath or pool from old swimsuits we are collecting:)


I hope this has inspired you, as it has for us, to expand on your own loves and interests, try some new activities, and to go out there to learn and create more:)


Resources/fun links from above:

Bath Paints:

Coloring Pages:

The Mermaid Project: Part 1:

Seaweed facts and pictures:

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