Category Archives: World Culture

Behind the Scenes…

…At the Field Museum! We were so lucky to get the chance to meet with Dr. Corine Vriesendorp who is the director of their Andes-Amazon program. She is a field biologist and a plant ecologist…. and may we say – super FUN! She had just returned from a research trip in Columbia so we were extra excited that the timing worked out for us to go to Chicago (who doesn’t love Chicago!?) and meet with her.

We started our behind the scenes adventure in the Rare Book Room. We saw the Audubon Ottoman, (well, it had a cover on it, but we were able to see one of the 4 Audubon Double Elephant Folio books), a rare, historical piece that was donated to the Museum in 1969.

From there, we went to the bird specimen area. There we learned about the consistent way nature solves problems, how species are collected and how huge the Field Museum’s collection of birds is. We loved seeing all the tiny hummingbirds and the birds of paradise. They are so dramatic!!!

We also revisited the beetle room. The room where hard, detailed, and wildly smelly work gets done by flesh eating beetles, who, for a place to stay, will eat birds and mammals to the bone, ready for organizing and storing by the most patient people on earth! They sort the freshly cleaned bones, some tinier than we could believe existed, tagged them and placed them in boxes to add to their massive collection.

After our tour was complete, we experienced the Specimens exhibit and the rest of the museum, including, meeting another scientist who is an entomologist. We held hissing cockroaches, spiders and a giant millipede.

A SUPER inspiring trip to meet some amazing scientists and hear about their work. A special thank you to Corine for taking us behind the scenes of her workplace!!! IMG_3532FullSizeRenderIMG_3533IMG_3540IMG_3544IMG_3548IMG_3549IMG_3550IMG_3551IMG_3559IMG_3557IMG_3555IMG_3560IMG_3552



Children’s Day!

Children’s Day in Japan is May 5th. While we celebrated it on the actual date, we have been slow to post our project!

It is a day of celebration in honor of….you guessed it – CHILDREN!  In Japan, cloth carp with streamers, called Koinibori, are flown on poles outside. It is supposed to bring good luck and fortune to the children inside the home. Koi Carp represent strength, and determination and are used as a symbol for the hope that children will also become strong and brave!!


We made our own Koinobori. Super fun and easy to make!


Cinco De Mayo…

As most people know, yesterday was Cinco de Mayo {or the fifth of May in English}. It also happens to be our Aunt Nancy’s Birthday! According to the internet many think Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican independence day but actually it’s a celebration of winning the war against the French, which started when Mexico couldn’t pay the debt they owed.

So it ended up that the war lasted 3 hours, Mexico didn’t have very good quality weapons… the French did…Mexico had only a small fraction of the soldiers France did, but it turns out Mexico won.

For us, it seemed odd that it was considered a ‘win’ when they were unable to pay their debt in the first place, which prompted the attack from France. Is that really winning?

Regardless, of the beginning and the end of the story, we learned how to make the papel picados known to decorate many fiestas around Mexico. Easy and fun to make!


Pysanky Eggs!

We tried our hands at making Ukrainian Pysanky Eggs which my Mom got a kit for. You can order your own here if you’re inspired to try it after reading this post!

The things we needed for this project were blown eggs of any sort, wax, kiskas {the tool you use to make the lines}, some dyes which come in the kit, a candle, loads of time and patience.

The first thing that happened was my Mom emptied out the eggs by making a small hole in the top and bottom and blowing then we left them in the oven on a super low temp to dry for 15 minutes. Then, we made template lines with pa encil before we began drawing with the wax and whatever layers we put on first would come out white because the eggshell is {most likely} white. We made sure that we plugged the blow holes with wax so the dye didn’t fill up the egg. We had to remember to work backwards with color in mind, starting with the lightest color (yellow) and moving on to subsequently darker colors. There is a video at the end of this post so you can see how it’s done.

We loved the smell of the beeswax. We loved drawing the lines. We loved the colors of the eggs. I think it is fair to say that we LOVED this project! We only dipped 3 colors for each egg, but there were many more to choose from. I am sure that we will make more of these little beauties since we were so happy with how ‘egg’celent they turned out!







Fantasy Maps…

This month we have been learning all about the Eastern Hemisphere. Landforms. Cultures. Cartography. Geographers. Latitude and Longitude. Coordinates. Meridians. Anyway, you get the idea!

Our assignment? To create a Fantasy Map. We found some pretty cool tricks on YouTube. That good old YouTube: the best place to spend a lot of time learning new things! Now one of the ideas that we found is about making the border of a land mass or island for whatever kind of map you would like. You can begin with whatever you have on hand like a cup of rice or perhaps some dried beans – so basically, any kind of granular objects you can find around the house. Then, pour some of these granular objects onto a flat piece of paper {not a crumpled or rolled piece because that would be very hard to work with} now draw a border around them to make the shapes in any way you would like.

On my map, I put trees, lakes, rivers, a canyon and a nice long shore line. Olive decided to take letters from other languages and put them together to form a new language used only in these Fantasy Lands. Words that even she doesn’t understand!

Anyway, if you do decide to make one of you own, know that it can become addicting! The possibilities are endless – Happy mapping!


Here Olive is drawing the border around her rice!


This is our Learning Wall… 

This was a funny video we watched about Longitude and Latitude.

A Peruvian Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving is met at our home with great excitement!

Many years ago (maybe 12?) we spent time looking into the origins of Thanksgiving in our country. It was very different than the peaceful images of pilgrims and Native Americans. It was at that point, we shifted our Thanksgiving to a focus on being grateful for the diversity the world has to offer. Each year, we choose a different country to celebrate. We research it, learn about their customs and culture, landmarks, people, food, clothing, climate and natural resources. We spend our entire day decorating and drawing and all participate in cooking traditional food of that country. It is like a full blown version of bringing someone elses country into our own home!

This year, we chose Peru. Past years have included: India, Bhutan, Greece, China, Japan, and so many others! We look forward to it every year and this year was no exception.

The wall of Perufullsizerender-2img_9055img_9050img_9151img_9156

Table decorations


The Food!

For our meal that lasted all day, we made traditional green chili sauce, salsas, yucca root empanadas (my! those are sticky!!), quinoa stuffed peppers, arroz tapado, and grilled veggies with traditional seasonings. It was filling and spicy, and truly delicious!


dia de los muertos

Day of the Dead… It’s that time again… when other people are getting on their Halloween costumes, we are planning our Day of the Dead meal and preparations. This year we have a much smaller ofrenda (altar) that we created but thought it was worth sharing. Usually, we have photos and moments of all those that have passed with things that remind us of them and foods that they loved.

To celebrate their spirits, we made a Mexican feast and created some of the most delicious Mexican spice cookies, inspired by our Death by Chocolate day of Kitchen Chemistry.  In America we don’t have traditions that celebrate those who passed in such a festive way. Over the years, it has become one of our favorite times to reflect on our friends and ancestors that are no longer with us!




You can find the recipe for these INCREDIBLE cookies here.