Archive | July 2013

Game On, Part IV: Educational Games of My Youth

Carmen Sandiego

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego

Although newer video games boast high definition graphics, trailers, and celebrity voices, I will always hold a special place in my heart for the original educational computer games of my youth. I learned all about “spelunking” and geography from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and I learned about prime numbers and fractions from playing Number Munchers.

Number Munchers

I loved Carmen Sandiego in all of its iterations – even now the name’s title plays in my head as the theme song from the PBS game show – “hit it Rockapella!”

Find out more about Carmen Sandiego here.

Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail

One of the earliest games I remember playing was the Oregon Trail. We played this at my elementary school first without a computer and then later on the computer. This game was one of the original role playing games where teams of settlers headed out west together and were given several scenarios leading to different repercussions throughout the journey. Kind of like a choose your own adventure story that we acted out during social studies class. We learned how to barter at the general stores, how to manage resources, how to fix a wagon wheel, and how to work as a team. It really brought to life how hard it must have been to make the long journey to settle the western frontier.

Oregon TrailIf I were teaching elementary school kids in the US, I would totally play this game with them. Even though somehow in the end someone always died of dysentery.

Learn more about playing Oregon Trail here.

Mixed-Up Mother Goose

Mixed-up Mother Goose

I attended an after-school program during Elementary School where we were lucky enough to have a couple of computers to play on. One of the first games I learned was Mixed-Up Mother Goose. The idea was to collect clues from the various storybook characters to find missing items and return them to their rightful owners. It really helped with reading comprehension and taught me how to maneuver with the mouse.

There is a newer version that you can download here.

Moment of Zen

You're a Firework

Lions and Foxes and Bears, Oh My!

Max in Wolf's Clothing

The felt I ordered online arrived (thanks for sending Susie & Steve!), which meant we could start on felt projects like making masks! The kids loved this project and were excited to use a new material since felt is not very common here for projects. As you can see, we made several different types of masks from butterflies to lions. Even Max got in on the action and dressed up like a fox.

I found inspiration for the masks on Pinterest and created templates that you can download by clicking on the link below each image. The fox mask template (as seen on Max) I found at “She Knows” and can be found here.

To make sure the mask will fit – print the template at 100% and hold up to the wearer’s face. If it needs to be adjusted either print again at a different size or trace onto your felt a bit inside or outside of the template line.

Another good tip is to do the eyes last. To make sure the eye holes are placed well, have the wearer put on the mask and mark where their eyes are in magic marker before cutting them out. Then, cut out progressively larger eye holes and have the wearer keep trying it on until it fits!


Download Butterfly Template here.


Download Super Hero Template here.


Download Lion Template here.


Download Bear Template here.


Not Pictured:

Download Chick Template here and Bird Template here.

Food, Glorious Food!

Savory Corn Muffins


I made these savory muffins recently and although I didn’t have just plain yellow cornmeal, a mix of masarepa (pre-cooked yellow cornmeal) and polenta (coarsly ground cornmeal) worked just as well. We liked them with extra ají (red pepper), shredded cheese, and onion.

Find the Savory Corn Muffin recipe here.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches


This is one meal that reminds us of summer BBQs back in the US. BBQ is not really a tradition here so I had to make the BBQ sauce from scratch, too. To save time you can use pre-cooked chicken or if you have the time, marinate the chicken first before cooking it in the delicious sauce. Paul liked it with tons of ají, or chili pepper.

Find the BBQ Sauce recipe here.

Find the Pulled Chicken Sandwich recipe here.

Llapingachos (Ecuadorian Potato Cakes)


I was feeling bad that I wasn’t making enough Ecuadorian recipes so I visited Laylita’s website to try my hand at an Ecuadorian dish (thanks for the link, Clare!). I made these llapingachos with traditional peanut sauce (not pictured) as a side dish one night and they were delicious.

Find more Ecuadorian recipes here.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


We had some extra raisins and like any good Ecuadorian we always have “Quaker” (pronounced here like quack-er – like another name for a duck) on hand. I never realized how popular oatmeal was down here until I was served it for breakfast and mixed with cinnamon and milk as a hot drink at lunch.

I like my raisin cookies chewy and reading this recipe I found out the secret is to refrigerate the batter before serving.

Find the Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies recipe here.

Unexpected Art

Ulric Collette

Genetic Portraits by Ulric Collette.

Genetic Portraits by Ulric Collette.

Have you ever wondered what you might look like if you were the opposite sex? Are you used to being told you and your sibling could be twins? Or, are you curious what you might look like when you get older? Well, the subjects in photographer Ulric Collette’s works experience this when they see a portrait of themselves spliced with another family member. The images reveal how powerful our genes really are and show us that blood truly is thicker than water. See more genetic portraits here.

Robin Eley

Hyper-realistic Paintings by Robin Eley.

Hyper-realistic Paintings by Robin Eley

Is it a photograph or is it a painting? If you guessed photograph – you’re wrong! These stunning images by Robin Eley are in fact paintings. Imagine how long it took to paint each of the folds in the aluminum…See more work here.

Anastassia Elias

Paper Cuts by Anastassia Elias

Paper Cuts by Anastassia Elias.

Looking for a new way to reuse toilet paper rolls? Well, if you have the talent of artist Anastassia Elias, you can create whole paper cut worlds. See more examples here.

Typography + Animation

1.5 Years in Ecuador

To celebrate a year and a half in Ecuador, we thought we’d take a look back at what has changed for us since we left our lives in the United States.

“On time” meant arriving at the scheduled time or 15 minutes early. “On time” means arriving 1 hour after the scheduled time.
Hot showers were plentiful and taken for granted. A bucket bath with warm water feels luxurious.
There was no one to greet us when we arrived home after a long day. Max, our biggest fan, shows us just how much he missed us.
We ate half of our meals at restaurants or out of take-out containers. Mari cooks almost all meals and the only delivery option is Palmar Pizza.
Entertainment ranged from dinner parties to concerts and art events. Entertainment consists of watching movies, reading, and holiday parties.
Cold meant snow, ice, hats, gloves, and wind that chilled you to the bone. Cold is any day when the sun isn’t shining.
Going to the beach was a novel weekend or vacation destination. Going to the beach means walking outside our door.
Work was a 9-5 (or 9-9) commitment that took place in an office at a desk. Work means setting our own hours and can take place anywhere.
Commuting was walking or taking the NYC subway to work. Commuting means waiting for a bus that makes stops anywhere.
We planned projects for weeks (if not months) in advance. Projects come together at the last minute and somehow still work out.
Food shopping meant walking next door to the Trader Joe’s. Food shopping means traveling over an hour to the only big supermarket.
Lunch could fit into a paper bag and might consist of a sandwich and fruit. Ecuadorian lunch consists of soup, rice, chicken/fish, juice, and dessert.
Rice was a side dish usually prepared with Asian or Mexican food. Failure to serve rice at every meal warrants comments.
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