diy: recycled cardboard dollhouse

recycled cardboard dollhouse Recycled Cardboard Dollhouse

Cardboard Dollhouse Template (the biggest piece is about 20″ x 20″)
Recycled cardboard from a box
Box cutter
Self-healing mat

recycled cardboard dollhouse Directions:
Download the Cardboard Dollhouse Template and you will need to take it to a copy center to get it printed. The largest piece measures about 20″ x 20″, but if you want a smaller house to accommodate a smaller box size, I would just have the template size decreased by 25% or 50%, or whatever your need may be. The template can be used later to make wall paper and floor for the house by gluing it onto the cardboard.

Break down your cardboard box into flat pieces and trace the templates onto your cardboard. With a box cutter, cut out each house piece: 1-center, 2-exterior, 3-house floors. If you want to create small stairs for the interior, cut out a 3 1/2″ x 5″ piece and cut two slits on one side (about 1 1/2″ apart) , and three on the other side (between the slits on the opposite side), then accordion fold them. You can easily create some stairs by accordion folding some scrap pieces of cardstock too!

Note: When you cut out the connecting slits for the house pieces, you will want to be sure that the slit you create accounts for the thickness of the cardboard you use. Depending the type of box you use, your slits might need to be slightly thicker or thinner.

recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse To put it together:
Slot together the center piece with the exterior pieces. Be sure the doors and windows of the exterior pieces parallel one another. Slot each floor onto the house.

recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse Tada! It’s such an easy dollhouse to create and put together. Your children will be oh-ing and ah-ing about how clever you are, at least mine did. Not only is this a eco-friendly way of creating something your children will love, but it will allow them to stretch the creative muscles decorating the house however they wish. We decided to outline all the openings with duct tape (always use a pair of non-stick scissors when dealing with duct tape). They started scavenging around the house to find things to use to make rugs and other furniture pieces for their dollhouse.

recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse When I was asked the kids what was on their Christmas list, they told me they wanted a dollhouse for their My Little Ponies. I told them we don’t need to buy that, but we could make that using things we already have. My kids love boxes, what kid doesn’t?! Sometimes a box gets played with longer than their toys. Thus, I thought it would be great to create a dollhouse out of some boxes we already had. We are big at recycling and reusing in our house, we have a big basket next to the trash can for recycling (and we recycle all we can), so I love saving boxes and pieces of things that I think can be used for something else. We had this large box from a light fixture we ordered (and I had been saving it for awhile), and it ended up being perfect for this eco-friendly dollhouse. My children have been working on making things for inside their house, and once they are all done with that, I will share it with you!

Lots of waste is created everyday, and little things like reusing a cardboard box into a dollhouse helps promote sustainability. We’ve also been knee deep in other projects, but we have plans to make our compost bin (finally!) soon. This will really help us reduce the amount of waste in our house. The girls and I have done projects from this book, which we have shared about here and here, and it has helped make use more aware.

With that, I’m happy to partner with Target’s EcoSet Initiative. All props, furniture, and clothing from their sets are donated to local partners so they can be given to those in need. Constructed elements of a set, like walls, flooring, or other art props are donated to local artists, filmmakers, and theaters. Even packaging materials, and things like rope, or lights are donated to those who can reuse it. My girls take toilet paper rolls and make them binoculars, or telescopes, and when they are done with those, we make sure to recycle them. It’s about thinking about things as a cycle and trying to give things the longest life possible. Thus, I’m happy when my children can use their imagination and turn boxes and things toilet paper rolls into toys.

This post is brought to you by Target. With helping hands, Target is committed to building healthy and sustainable communities. Thank you for the support you give this space and brands I collaborate with. 



how we deal with halloween candy in our home

halloween goodies Happy October! It’s Ben here. Ruby asks me to write about how we approach eating healthfully in our family, so here’s how we address Halloween candy with our kids.

You might think with being a dietitian, candy and anything “lo-nu” (what True started calling low nutrition foods a few years back) would be forbidden. Before I speak about that, I wanted to visit what may seem like petty semantics. We’ve learned not to refer to foods as good or bad, but rather, identify them based on their nutrient density. We’ll instead classify them as a high nutrition (hi-nu) food or low nutrition (lo-nu) food. All foods can be consumed within the context of balance and moderation. Furthermore, there’s no need to associate guilt/shame with a food traditionally labeled as “bad.” We strive to teach them how to make healthful choices, and how to recognize what is high nutrition versus low nutrition in our home.

So how do we address the lo-nu Halloween candy? We intentionally allow the kids eat all they want. Yup, you read that correctly. It’s a part of the approach we’ve adopted from dietitian and psychotherapist Ellyn Satter. We’re still learning how to best integrate what seems to be a very liberal strategy when it comes to “forbidden foods” like these after Halloween is over, so we go at our own pace as we continue to experiment with these principles. One of the goals is that kids won’t over-indulge/binge when parents aren’t around. The six of us are learning together; that’s parenting though.

When it comes to how we answer the “Trick or Treat!” request at the door, there was a study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior that helped form our decision in what we give out. Researchers offered kids aged 3-14 the option of candy vs. a Halloween toy. Half of them chose the toys… an interesting perspective on how many kids define “treat” on Halloween. Since there’s already enough candy being circulated around that night, we’ve opted for inexpensive toys. And for individuals challenged with weight or other conditions in which mindful candy-eating principles are welcome, this is a nice strategy for removing candy in the home that could be mindlessly consumed!

Have a safe and mindful Halloween!



in a corn maze

lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and apple picking, it’s the must-do list of the fall season, right?! If you’re in SoCal, I think the Cal Poly Pomona corn maze is the best one I’ve seen in a couple years. Their pumpkin patch is usually pretty awesome, but we went just a week after they opened, and they were already sold out. Bummer for us because their pumpkins are reasonable and the whole field is a nice spot for family pictures. We noticed they had a corn maze, so we decided to still stick around. We went to one in Temecula a couple times, but this one just felt much more legit. Just like at the apple orchard, once in, the girls took off running. Of course, they asked first, and we gave permission with a few restrictions to abide by. We didn’t want to risk losing one on the patch, oh what a nightmare that would be.

Anyway, the girls just loved roaming (and running) through the rows and rows of cornstalks. We could have spent a much longer time in there, but the sun was going down, and some of the girls started complaining about needing to use the restroom. After they wore themselves out running through the rows, we headed out. We never found the end of the maze, so we ended up sneaking through rows to get out. Oh well!

It’s feeling much more fall-like here, so the sweaters are (finally!) coming out. This weekend it’s even predicted to be in the mid-60s and rain, so I’m really hoping the SoCal weather sticks to that forecast. We coincidentally all matched that day, but I guess I’ve just been into blues lately. True’s dress looks denim, but isn’t, and I appreciate when a dress doesn’t need to be ironed. If it were in my size, I’d wear it. True and Brave are both wearing sweaters from the boy section of Old Navy, even Glow’s high-tops are from the boy section too. Their boy stuff have lots of things that girls could totally rock! I’ve always loved grandpa sweaters for myself, so it’s cute to see teeny versions on my girls. Keep it cool California, we wanna bundle up a bit!

on me: dress, handmade (see here). boots, swedish hasbeens. necklace, gift from my sister-in-law. on true: faux-denim dress, grandpa cardigan, and leopard sneakers, c/o old navy. necklace, made by true. on brave: patchwork denim and marled cardigan, c/o old navy. slip-ons, shoebuy. necklace, made by brave (see here). on soul: denim skirt, denim jacket, and leopard flats c/o old navy. shirt, holt and luluon glow: dress and high-tops, old navy.

This post is sponsored by Old Navy. I’m thankful for your continuous support of this space and the brands I partner with. 



spanish lessons at home

spanish lessons spanish lessons spanish lessons It’s always been our desire for the girls to be bilingual. When the girls were babies Ben would speak a bit of Spanish to them, but as they have gotten older (and since I don’t speak it), English has just been easier. True and Brave have been taking Spanish classes one day a week for a few years now, but since it’s just one day a week, it’s more vocabulary than actual conversational Spanish.

We’ve looked at the possibility of sending them to a dual-immersion school, and had we found a good one, we might have opted for that over homeschooling. Unfortunately, the one near us has a class ratio of 30:1 and we didn’t like that. You would have to start from kinder on, so we thought about possibly putting Soul in. We also tossed around the idea of hiring a tutor to get True and Brave up to par, so they can take a test to get in, but in the end, the program didn’t seem right for us.

Then one day, the girls were FaceTiming with Ben’s mom and I think she was saying something in Spanish to them, and that’s when a light bulb went off. I whispered to Ben that maybe his mom could teach them Spanish and he instantly thought that was a brilliant idea too! Ben’s mom used to teach high school Spanish, so she was the perfect person for this. I don’t know why we never thought of it before! We mentioned to her our idea, and what she thought, and she was totally on board. That night I started researching Spanish curriculum and sent her a few sample pages of one I liked. Later that week, we got everything ordered for the girls, and ordered the same books and sent them to her in Texas.

spanish lessons spanish lessons spanish lessons We originally planned their lessons via FaceTime to happen twice a week, about 15-30 minutes a lesson, but the girls love it so much that they end up going for about two hours! Sometimes, three! And lately, they’ve been able to get three or four FaceTime sessions in with her. We also do Latin in our homeschooling, so they are able to make connections to between the two languages, and there are so many similar words too.

Ben’s mom has her own white board at her home, and she uses that when she’s teaching them online. She gives them homework (like labeling things around the house), and I review with them during the week for extra reinforcement. Not only is that good for them, but good for me too because it’s been recalling all the Spanish I learned in high school. There are also some similarities between Spanish and Tagalog (language from the Philippines), so I’m able to pick up some. I’ve been trying to practice saying small phrases throughout the day, and Ben’s been better at trying to use Spanish too. I understand Tagalog completely, but since I haven’t used it in a long time, I butcher the language when it comes out of my mouth. Ben used to be much more fluent in Spanish (he studied in Guadalajara for a several months in college), but since he doesn’t use it often, it isn’t as natural to him. We are all working on it though!

The girls seem to really be thriving in this online class of theirs. Plus, we think it’s really special that they are able to spend time with their Grandmama like this. They are creating such wonderful memories together! She even got a fish for a class pet, so they had to come up with names for it. The verdict is Diamante Lily Bratcher.  HA!

We use Spanish for Children Primer A (it’s a student and teacher book in one), the DVD & Chant Set that accompany it, and this answer key for checking their answers. They do their lesson on their iPad, and this is the iPad cover we use. We’ve found that our Spanish program goes really nicely with Song School Latin, which is our Latin curriculum. I love when I hear them using Latin and Spanish phrases throughout the day. Knowing more than one language is important to us, and since the girls are a quarter Mexican, it’s extra special because it’s part of their heritage. I wish they understood Tagalog, but maybe one day, with their knowledge of Latin and Spanish, they will be able to pick up other languages quicker.



family meals: week 90

family meals family meals Soba with Seafood and Spicy Korean Sauce. Made this dish again because it’s easy, delicious, and healthy!

family meals family meals Spicy Salmon with Wild Rice and Mashed Garlic Cauliflower. We haven’t had this particular dish in over a year, but that spice rub is so good. It’s super spicy, but you know us… the spicier it is, the more we love it! I’ll have to share the ingredients of it with you soon.

Week of 10/27 – 10/31
Monday: Simple Sesame Noodles
Tuesday: Turkey Taco
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: White Bean Chili
Friday: Pizza Party (with friends for Halloween)

While I love cooking now, I do get tired of it. Making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a family of six is pretty taxing. I can see why people resort to fast food (or eating out). I’m tempted to do so after a full day of doing stuff because the last thing I want to do is cook. I suck it up and end up cooking because for our large family, it’s just much more economical to cook and get a balanced meal. Granted, fast food would be cheap, but it probably isn’t balanced.




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