Habitat dioramas!!!

hab·i·tat (hb-ttn.

1.  a : the place or environment where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives and grows

     b : the typical place of residence of a person or a group
     c : a housing for a controlled physical environment in which people can live under surrounding inhospitable       conditions (as under the sea)
2: the place where something is commonly found

So we have studied up a bit on animal habitats recently for science and I was super excited to introduce the kiddos to one of my most favorite things to make as a kid in grammar school...the diorama!! Yes for some it may have been the most dreaded project, for myself it was most loved! Everything about creating a unique and tiny scene in a box brought me happiness as a kid. My mind felt as though it could literally jump into the little world, and experience it for myself. I was a very visual learner, so that is probably why I enjoyed it so much. That might be one of the biggest benefits to creating a diorama, is that it reinforces the concept or story being learned and kind of pulls it all together with a visual guide.

I figured the best starter concept using this project would be lessons on habitats. It’s pretty easy and basic enough to engage them with ideas and simple enough to approach. Ella chose the ocean. Here she is completing one of her worksheets on habitats.


Gavin decided that he wanted to do the desert. Here they are painting the outside of their boxes.



Gavin obviously was too excited to sit still… This project is also great because you can pull it together using so many various things that you might have on hand. We used everything from play-doh, paint, pipe cleaners, to bendaroos, shells and rock collections we have, dirt from outside, cotton, and beads. The possibilities are endless of course!


Gavin’s desert was coming together! So goes the normal course of one subject leading into another, as we were able to discuss the concept of a cactus referring to the singular and cacti in terms of more than one. Ella was quite perplexed over this fact, her mind has to know the who, what and why of it all. It’s just another one of those things!!


You can’t have too many snakes!


Ella was very thoughtful and particular about how she wanted her diorama to look. Gavin on the other hand just wanted to go for it. Doing these projects with them really brings out how much their minds differ at such a young age. Ella really likes to be guided through a lot and enjoy’s the one on one thing, while Gavin is the do-it-himself kind of kid. Just like his mama :). Once you tell him about it or he see’s something, he just runs with it!


Ella has a huge and beautiful imagination, which I just love about her. She does require more attention though when it comes to certain things. This fact has definitely helped me grow with patience! We literally made a big colorful mess this day but what’s the fun in a project if you can’t make a mess right?!


Ellas imaginative juices were flowing, and she decided that her box was actually a TV. She wanted to pretend that its her own underwater show to watch. We then had to equip it with an antenna and a remote  for changing channels. Love her little mind!!


This desert looks dry enough to me!!


A fun and successful project for us, as agreed. They have a blast now watching their shows at the breakfast table in the morning…No commercial interruptions to top it!!


Now we will be following up specifically on the ocean habitat with a field trip down to Sea World with their Auntie and cousins down in San Diego! 🙂


Coveting a medal… oh and about that race.

February 5, 2012


Have you ever wanted something SO bad, you just won’t stop until you have it? You dream about it until it’s your reality?

This little medal did that to me 🙂

“Another day, another run” is what I kept telling myself during the drive to Huntington Beach, as my dad and I embarked on our 3rd half marathon together. I still get giddy and anxious for these things even if it is a 4th half marathon under my belt. The real excitement is because this is actually part of a bigger goal for me …

As in 26.2 long miles.

Am I Crazy….check
Am I Dedicated….check
Am I so Motivated no one can stop me….absolutely!

Yes, you can say I have marathon fever at this point, and it’s not because of the heated runs I have experienced. It’s because I am on fire for this goal. 🙂  I will post another day about that goal, and just who was it that gave me the running bug.

On Sunday my dad and I did this Surf City half together, as part of the training program we are following for the LA marathon. A half marathon is just that, 13.1 short of a full (incase you can’t do the math). It’s a long journey of a run no matter which way you look at it. But from a stand point now after having completed an 18 mile run during my training program already, I find that I am able to look at 13 miles differently than before.

It’s not as daunting as it seemed in the past. Particularly the last half marathon that I ran which was when I vowed to never set foot in a race again because of the pure agony I was in afterward. In this photo I am barely able to stand straight and pull some semblance of a smile out… It was torture for the rest of the day, and I was positive I was on my death-bed, therefore I would not go down dying for another run EVER!!!

But alas, here I am today writing about an awesome run I had this past Sunday, smiles all around! Funny how you can forget the pain over time…kind of like childbirth lol. I really had my heart set on this race in particular, ever since last year. A neighbor of mine told me about it, but it sold out that year before I could snag my spot. Ever since I laid eyes on the awesome surf board medal though, I knew that I needed to earn one for myself!

Then I just had to get Dad in on it and that didn’t take much…

A long time runner himself, my dad is usually up for a challenge by one of his daughters and I love that about him. Here we are in the crowd (20,000 runners) soaking up the energy as we were waiting to start.

Lucky numbers…

I felt more excited than ever to run this race. I couldn’t wait for the scene, excited for the salty air, for all the training I’ve done over the past months to get put to some use, for the company, for the pure enjoyment of a run which I consider the jumping point to my crazy 26.2  goal, for the ocean and its beckoning waves at the finish, and did I mention that MEDAL?!!

So here is a shot of my dad coming in at the finish!! Super exciting, he finished with a great time at 2 hours and 23 seconds!! I was so happy for him 🙂

Dad and I in the tent checking our times after the race..

and this is my “I’m so happy I could scream” face after finding out that my time was a new ‘personal best’ for me. The fact that I was feeling so great afterward made the time results that much more rewarding… training hard+consistency= pay off!!

I don’t consider myself a fast runner but I’m definitely glad about a 9:14 minute mile! I was really feeling great afterward. My dad on the other hand….not so much. He completely needed this relief under the shower before I insisted that we make a stop at first-aid to make sure he was not dehydrated. There is a fine line you don’t want to cross when it comes to rehydrating, and anyone who has endured the agony of a not so good post race experience knows to be careful! My Dad was definitely careful but has experienced nausea with longer runs recently, so it wasn’t utter bliss for him after this run unfortunately.

 My dad is strong though and I knew he would be okay! His motto for us kids growing up was this:

“When the going gets tough, the Garcia’s get going.” 

Needless to say, there were NO EXCUSES as a kid lol.

So after a short visit to first-aid we made our way down to the water to enjoy a little celebratory splash. It was freezing water, but it’s just what the doctor ordered to take care of some sore feet and legs…an instant ice bath!

So all the pieces to this equation came together after all. I had the scene and salty air from the ocean I wanted…

…the company and enjoyment…

..and finally that darn medal!!

It just goes to show… A dream can become a reality, if you really want it, and are willing to work hard enough for it!

The awesome Eggplant


I was actually wondering if my excessive consumption of eggplant lately would do me any harm. That is seriously how in love I am with this amazing veggie right now. I pretty much could eat one all on my own, if I didn’t remind myself to share…sounds bad but I guess I’m the only one who would eat it anyway. The kids are just starting to take a liking to it now which is great!

Eggplant is one of those things you either love or can’t stand, kind of like brussel sprouts. It’s not something that I ever hated eating, I just hadn’t discovered it’s amazing-ness until the past few years. Eggplant parmesan was always good in my opinion, but a while back I ventured into a recipe found here by the lovely Giada De Laurentiis which hooked me on it! So delish with the pesto and pasta, but lately I’ve devoured this thing in a more simplified state.



I think I’ve mastered my favorite recipe for it though finally! Kind of a culmination of the different versions I’ve tried out. Baked Eggplant recipes all kind of begin to look similar so it’s easy to adapt what you prefer as far as taste goes. I actually liked an addition of light parmesan cheese. Adds a little more saltyness. Eggplant can also be kind of tricky to work with because of how spongy it is. It really soaks up oil like no other. But with the delicious method of baking it, you just can’t go without the olive oil!

All you need is:

1 eggplant sliced width wise

garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, olive oil, salt to taste

parmesan cheese.

I line my pan with foil and spray it with cooking spray. I think the foil helps it crisp a bit. The key to not sogging (that’s my term for them getting horribly soggy during one trial) them up is by using a marinade brush to LIGHTLY brush the oil on both sides of all slices. I REPEAT LIGHTLY brush with oil. After the oil, sprinkle with all the seasonings. I’m not using exact measurements, it’s totally something you can eyeball. I do both sides with the seasons but just go easy so it doesn’t over power!! Then bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min or until the edges are a little crisp. Add the cheese and let it melt. Eat and enjoy!! 🙂


This photo barely made it between bites, it’s THAT good. Or I’m just THAT obsessed.

Could be both…

Either way there are other benefits to reap with this nutrient dense vegetable. It’s great because it fills you up yet it is a low-calorie and a lower carb food. It of course has lot’s of vitamins and minerals, which is great. Also it has phytonutrients which help in releasing icky toxins from the body and contributes to the antioxidant value in it (disease fighting!!). Might I add it is a great source of fiber too.

So in the name of good eating habits, I am going to let myself stay obsessed with the eggplant for now. Just thought I’d share my appreciation of this unique food and possibly inspire a few taste buds while I’m at it!