How many of you love daydreaming? I daydream every day, sometimes as long as 5-10 minutes. During this time, I am left alone with my pleasant thoughts and no school, work, or trouble seems to exist. In my daydreams, I am having a fantastic journey either by myself or with someone who is company I really enjoy. After a daydream, I feel relaxed and if I am at work, I come back to work with high efficiency. Daydreaming is one of my favorite relaxation techniques, but I would have never thought to make it into a hobby.

Life Made Simple presents you with a sweet story about one baby’s daydreams.  In Finland, a mother named Adele gives us an imaginative look at the daydreams of her baby, Mila. When Mila takes a nap, she creates a scene around her baby and takes a quick snap picture. In the photos, Mila looks more like she is living a daydream than having a nap. As a mother of her baby, Adele “would like to see into the dreams of her little girl” and has her own daydream at the same time. Also she collects all the photos and integrates them in an album, which is called “Mila’s Daydream”.

Adele used to be a copywriter and advertising concept designer, but now has a lot more free time being a mother and housewife.  She has found a way to make daydreams come to life. She uses clothes, towels, paper, toys, and other creative materials to create the scenes in the stories for “Mila’s daydream”. She says that creating these scenes are easy for her, “I only use a few minutes per picture, including creating the idea, implementation and editing, cause I don’t want to disturb her sleeping and most of my time is for my family.” Also, her tool for taking pictures is simple, she says, “My camera is a small and inexpensive Canon IXUS 750.”

A cute name explains the concept in each photo. Some examples are “Attack of the 50 foot woman’s baby”, “A Space Odyssey 2010”, “Oh What a Circus” and “Up” are based on existing art works. “Bookworm” is related to the book series. “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Lots” is a cute title Adele as a mom, gives one of the daydreams.


Creating daydreams as a hobby is not just for fun. There is always a story and a great meaning behind the pictures that Adele takes. I can’t help but think that Adele’s little girl is going to love seeing these pictures when she grows up. I know she will be proud of having such a brilliant mom!

“Imaginary Friend”

LMS encourages you to develop daydreaming as a simple hobby in your own ways. No matter what it is, as Adele’s words goes, “Never forget, everything is possible in the dreams. Keep daydreaming!”

Here is Adele’s blog for “Mila’s Daydream“. You can also find “Mila’s Daydream” on Facebook.


Time to get inspired! Today Life Made Simple proudly features Chicago Fashion Designer Lara Miller. A Chicago native, Laura Miller attended the School of The Art Institute where she developed her niche for creating garments out of Eco-friendly materials. She conceptualized her garments to focus on versatility, and allowing women to “Wear it Your Way.” Lara’s focus is mainly on sweaters, but whatever the garment is, it can be wrapped, reversed, and flipped to reveal an entirely different look.

The Lara Miller line is manufactured in Chicago and her designs are strongly influenced by the city’s architectural and cultural landscape. An advocate to giving back to the community, Lara acknowledges the impact humans have on the environment.  By making clothes with Eco-friendly materials, Lara hopes to preserve and respect the Earth any way she can.

“I see my company as a way to support my community – not only by using organic materials while adhering to a “green” lifestyle and workspace – but also by manufacturing locally and working to sustain the sewn products industry in Chicago.”              


When she sketches, Lara uses recycled craft papers like O-tag paper, which is used for store tags on clothing or other products from companies like Henry Lee, who would normally throw away the surplus. During the design process, Lara draws the markers out herself onto scrap paper instead of sending her patterns off to be entered into computers and printed.  Lara donates the left over scrap paper  to Columbia College instructor Jamie Thorne to use in her paper making classes.

Lara Miller strives to use colors that are exclusively from low-impact reactive dyes in her designs, that use the least amount of petroleum by products and water possible. She has also been proactive in researching ways of using only natural dye sources, putting to practical use natural dying techniques that she learned in school.

View Lara’s Newspaper Dress for the do-gooder design project

Lara Miller incorporates organic cotton, hemp, vegan Ahimsa peace silk, organic wool, linen, lyocell, flax and soy fibers, hand-loomed bamboo and recycled organic cotton in her garments. Her favorite material to use is recycled cotton yarn that she gets from US-based company Jimtex. The yarn from this company is regenerated from post-industrial scraps from larger companies that make t-shirts and other cotton products. In re-using these scraps the need for growing more crops and using dyes is minimized and this significantly reduces the amount of waste that goes into our landfills.

“Being a ‘green’ company means much more to me than just using eco-friendly fibers. It means supporting the local economy and using the least amount of energy possible. It means using a local printer that only uses recycled paper and partially runs on wind power. It means giving back in every way that I can to my employees, my community, and the world.”

Lara Miller is an innovative pioneer who  is helping sustain our planet through her Eco-friendly designs. Life Made Simple acknowledges Lara Miller as “one” person making a difference and applauds her integrity, hard work and dedication to her community, fashion, and the Earth.

Information and pictures on Lara Miller retrieved from

Feature by Evie Pesheva

Want to find out how you can shop for a cause and help change lives? The Enterprising Kitchen is one way you can help women and their families gain financial independence. The Enterprising Kitchen (TEK) is a  non-profit organization, based in Chicago that started in 1996. The program is aimed to help low-income, poverty stricken women and their families achieve economic independence by providing them with jobs and important life skills training. Women strive towards self sufficiency by producing and selling a line of spa products such as soaps, lotions and body oils.

I first learned about TEK as I was shopping in a popular retail store in my neighborhood. During a special shopping event, TEK were showcasing their products for the holiday season. I had walked by the table several times as I thought, ‘this is just another company trying to make a profit.’ Little did I know, this company was one that actually sought to put profits back into others who needed it! I walked up to the table as the scents of jasmine and rose from the soaps and body creams aroused my senses. I was greeted by Jade Stewart, the Executive Director of TEK who informed me that all the products were hand made by women who have either been living below the poverty line, victims of domestic violence, previously incarcerated or just down on their luck in life. She went on to inform me that all proceeds, are used to benefit job training for the women.

The Enterprising Kitchen was started by Ms. Joan Pikas who originally launched the company from home in her kitchen – hence the name “The Enterprising Kitchen”. Each product is hand made under the TEK’s brand name, Choices from The Enterprising Kitchen. One very interesting thing I also learned was that  each product is hand signed by the woman who made it. Seeing the names on the products made me realize that simply purchasing a bar of soap or a bottle of lotion could change a woman’s life. The gift packages were beautifulIy and organically wrapped with different sets including lotions, soaps, bath salts and oils. I bought two bars of rose scented soaps, and along with the mission statement on the translucent packaging, were the words “Packaged with pride by: Bisrat”. I thought this was such a sentimental notion and added a more personal feel to purchasing these spa products. I really felt I made a purposeful purchase. Jade informed me that TEK also offers custom orders where packaging can be creatively personalized with your company name and logo.

More than 600 women have been interviewed for the TEK program and of these women, 397 has received job training and support. The average wage for the women is $9 per hour. The program works as a stepping stone towards possible permanent work. TEK works with employment agencies with helping women of the program  get on the job training and graduate moving into positions at various skill levels within job fields such as health care, social services, manufacturing and transportation companies.

The Enterprising Kitchen offers several ways to get involved. The Charitable Fundraising Program where specialized gifts can be made for school, religious and/or nonprofit fundraising purposes; hiring graduates at your company after they complete a six-month transitional jobs training program; The Referral Program where a graduate can be referred for possible employment; and Product Development Program where if you have a creative eye for design, you can assist with launching new products.

Since we are in the season of giving, you can give the gift that gives back. Whether its shopping for gifts for loved ones for the holiday’s, a wedding or corporate giving, shopping with The Enterprising Kitchen is a sure way you’ll be helping others as you buy.




If you would like to get involved with The Enterprising Kitchen, please visit their upcoming open house on December 4, 2010 from 10am-5pm 4426 North Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60640 773-506-3880

Or visit them online at:

Nowadays, technology plays a pretty big role in our everyday lives.  If we aren’t on our cell phones, you might catch us on our lap tops, or even both at the same time!  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate those blessings in our lives and one of the most important blessings is our family.  Today let us spend time with those we love the most and less time occupied with the gadgets we own.

Yesterday, I spoke with a friend about this subject and she told me, “In my family, my dad makes us put away our cell phones at dinner on Thanksgiving.  That way, for once, we can communicate with one another instead of communicating with those who aren’t even there.”

Life Made Simple always promotes the goodness of simplicity.  Simply stepping away from technology can help us appreciate the more important things in life like our families and friends. This Thanksgiving, challenge yourself in not using technology like a computer or your cell phone to communicate with others but instead focus your attention on the people who are right in front of you and be thankful for them .  Communicate with those you are surrounded by at the dinner table.  Find something new to appreciate about someone in your family today!
Happy Holidays! 🙂

Since Life Made Simple has covered many simple – yet beautiful things in life, I began to think about life itself. How many times have you wondered “who am I?” and “why am I here”? Does it ever feel like your life is a huge circle? What is the meaning behind the repetitive things we do in our daily lives?

The Myth of Sisyphus is a very interesting story from Greek Mythology about king Sisyphus who gets punished by the Greek Gods for his trickery. King Sisyphus is then condemned to roll a huge rock up to a steep hill forever.  As the story goes, Sisyphus would come close to the top of the hill, but the rock would roll back down – he never gets the rock to the top.

Based on Sisyphus’ myth, I would like you to consider the following: If Sisyphus had known that he could never roll the huge rock up to the top of the hill, would he still have worked so hard to get it done? There is no right or wrong answer, however, do think about what the meaning is behind this repetition.

In China, there is an old folktale similar to the story of Sisyphus called The Little Shepherd. As the story goes, a traveler comes to a small village, sees a shepherd boy and he asks him, “What do you herd sheep for?” “In order to marry a young lady,” the boy answered. “Why do you want to marry?” The traveler asked again. “In order to have children,” the boy answered. “Why do you want to have children?” The traveler went on asking. The boy thought a while and answered, “for herding my sheep!”

Both of these stories show life as a cycle in which we are repeating what we did yesterday and our children will repeat what we are doing now. When people are born, they are born into a world where other people have already worked out ways to manage the problems they will likely encounter themselves. When children are young, they should learn and practice wisdom from the previous generations. Thus, human beings develop generation by generation with repeating traditions. Fortunately, this kind of repetition is not always the same for everyone. We all find our own little beauties and unique experiences along the way.

Sisyphus was condemned to a repetitive action his entire life.  His courage and braveness were so strong that he did not hate or hesitate but just faced his fate. The story of Sisyphus teaches that no matter how difficult a situation might seem, we are strong individuals and we shouldn’t give up.

The young shepherd boy most likely learned to be a shepherd from his own father. Since a shepherds’ life is all he knew, he wanted to pass on his knowledge to his own children, hence to have children the shepherd boy must first find a wife. He too accepts his fate and takes part in this repetitive life cycle.

Hopefully this story has shed some light on life as a cycle. We start as young, crying babies needing the care of our parents.  If fortunate with a long healthy life, we end in old age with our children then taking care of us.  It’s only one life cycle that we each  go through. We might as well enjoy it from the first bud to the very last shriveled leaf!

Leaves as Life’s Cycle…

— CC

The best things in life are nearest:  Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Thanksgiving is a week away and many of us may already have Thanksgiving planned out from the dinner menu to the day’s festivities. Thanksgiving celebrations typically include families getting together enjoying a traditional feast of a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie- THE works! This special fourth Thursday in November is known as a holiday to express thankfulness to God, family and friends for all the blessings in our lives.

Thanksgiving is a celebration that is meant to be spent with loved ones! While you still have time to make the arrangements, Life Made Simple encourages you to plan to give to those who might not necessarily have the blessings that you have in your life. Whether you invite a friend over who doesn’t have family around or volunteer with family members at a local soup kitchen-giving back to others and your community will definitely put a smile on someones face this Thanksgiving. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

If you are interested at volunteering at a soup kitchen here are some helpful links to help you find one near you!

The Marquard Center Dining Room in Chicago

Chicago Food Depository

The Volunteer Center

Last week, Life Made Simple featured a story about Learning in Africa at the Kokrobitey Institute in Accra, Ghana. Today, we will share some personal essays directly from the students that will  give a closer glimpse of the Urban Scholars Program. These high school students are from various Chicago area schools who’ve traveled to the Kokrobitey Institute between the years of 2001 and 2005. The creative stories and poems give a very personal account of the students’ experiences while traveling to Africa – especially those who have never before traveled out of the country.

A priority of the Institute is to introduce students to the ‘Old World’ of Africa and to “build self-esteem through self-discovery and academic excellence”. For two weeks, students take classes on history, African literature, African Arts and finish with individual projects on their experience.

Below are two compelling examples of a story and a poem that were written by students who’ve traveled to the Kokrobitey Institute.

Story: Reflections  

When I first sank my black Converse into the Ghanaian sand,
I realized I was afraid I would lose my identity. My pace was
quick because, with each step,

I feared my sense of self would
slip into the soil. After spending the last seventeen years
strapped into color-coded society, coming to Ghana felt like
tripping into the Black abyss.

I was afraid that Africans would see me as white. At home
I was taught that white was the hue of emptiness: White
Americans were blank beings who traded commercialism for
culture and stole whatever beliefs they could not buy. White is
the color of fresh notebook paper. I had already been stained.
I did not want to be rewritten with the ink of the Motherland.

A staring contest with a Ghanaian street vendor changed my
fears. The way they glanced, the way they held—I had never
seen eyes that looked so much like mine. It felt as though I
was staring at myself. People say that you can only see the
world through your own perspective, but with his eyes, I knew
he must see the same as I did. Oceans and centuries had
separated us, but we share.

I was once afraid to walk here. Now, as I traipse barefoot
across Ghanaian ground, I realize that I have not been broken
but built. Before coming to Kokrobitey the Black-White
dichotomy fashioned my cultural identity: to be Black was to be
the opposite of White. Yet here in Africa, people who were the
same color as me surrounded me. Here, without the presence of
the “other,” I—the African-American—had to face the other side of the hyphen.

Over the last two weeks I have learned that culture is not a
static monolith but a dynamic entity. Never again must I fear
that my culture will crack because it breathes just as I do. It
is a product of human interaction, and it changes in accordance
with the place, time, and knowledge of its followers. Ethnicity
yields culture, but culture does not exist in a racial vacuum. My
brown skin and the traditions it signifies are products of both
sides of the hyphen.

I am African. I am American. I am Human.

Poem: History On My Shoulders

I’ve finally come back
I’ve gone through my past
My voyage was rough
But troubled waters don’t last
I’ve seen first hand
What my ancestors went through
The whips, the chains, the death….
Enough to humble you
I’ve finally come home
To see the beauty
Aesthetically pleasing
And yet there’s more to see
I’ve been to the Door of No Return
And yet I’ve come back
And when I go home
I’ll share my story with no c lack
See, I’ve shed my tears
And learned my history
Finally, I understand my story
So many emotions I’ve had in two weeks
This makes you realize how precious life can be
Everything here is so full of life
The birds, the bees, the geckos, the trees
Such a pretty sight
I’ve met people who will forever change my life
And to them I say
“Thank you for being so nice”
This trip here has taught me to be appreciative for things
Like water and food and only take what you need
I know I’ve grown from this trip
I’ve learned to slow down
And to take life bit by bit
I’ve learned how to barter
And to walk away when I see fit
See this was much more than a vacation to me
I came to get some knowledge about my ancestry
And now that I know what I know
I’ll hold on to my past, and never let go
So even though it wasn’t us. Our fathers or mothers
It may not have been you, him or her
But it happened to someone or we wouldn’t be here
If our forefathers survived that….
We shouldn’t have any fears
Some people think history is old
But to me, I think we should embrace it,
And make sure this story gets told.

Along with taking classes, students take part in field trips in the area such Cape Coast, Aburi and other local towns in Accra. An integral part of the program is allowing American students to work closely with their Ghanaian peers so they take part in community service.

The Urban Scholars Program at The Kokrobitey Institute has proven to be a life changing experience for the students who’ve had the opportunity to participate. Lives have been enriched and changed forever through this program.  Life Made Simple proudly features the Urban Scholars Program at the Kokrobitey Institute and encourages parents to give their children opportunities like this one!

“Dance isn’t a form, it’s a way of life.”


“For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.” – Former Georgia Senator and Governor Zell Miller

We often take for granted the very things that deserve our most gratitude.  Let us appreciate every little thing today. Happy Veterans Day!

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