Summer Break

Hi friends. It's been super quiet here for weeks, making it a little late to let you know I'm taking a bit of a break. Nothing is wrong... I'm just taking some time to focus on our family business and to enjoy summertime with my gals. We'll be swimming in the pool, riding bikes, playing with friends, making art, going to the beach, and working our way through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I wish you a wonderful summer!

PS - While I wont have regular blogs up, you can always check out one of my online summer course/camp offerings:

The At-Home Summer Nature Camp eGuide is packed with ideas and
inspiration to keep your kids engaged and happy all summer long.

Connect to "your place" in nature with this
self-paced nature journaling course. 


This self-paced, self-directed eCourse will guide and inspire
you as you record the details of your summer travels. 


Hug a Tree for Arbor Day... and 9 Other Ideas!

*Originally posted April 26, 2013.

Tomorrow is National Arbor Day, a special day set aside for tree planting, and a great day to recognize and discuss the important role trees play in our natural world. Here are 10 ways you can honor this over 135-year-old observance as a family, or an individual. (It's OK to spread these activities out over several days or weeks!)

1. The most obvious Arbor Day act is to plant a tree (or make a plan to plant one sometime soon). Be sure to choose the right tree for the right spot, and learn how to properly plant and care for it!
2. Go on a neighborhood tree walk. Stroll around your neighborhood, or a nearby park, and observe all the different types of trees. Bring along a field guide to identify what you see, or alternatively, take photos and use the Internet to identify your neighborhood trees when you get home (visit www.arborday.org/trees/treeid.html).
3. Stop by the library and pickup a few books about trees. Consider picture books for little ones, such as The Giving Tree or A Tree is Nice. Older children will appreciated non-fiction/resource books to learn more about trees; local tree identification guides; and even the classic coming-of-age story A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Adults, check out The Tree, a nonfiction look at how the natural world affects human lives.
4. Make bark rubbings using paper and crayons or colored pencils. Lay your paper over the bark of different trees and rub it with a crayon... watch the patterns and texture of the bark magically appear!
5. Make a list of all the different foods that come from trees (think beyond just apples and oranges to other edible tree products such as cinnamon [tree bark] and syrup [tree sap]). Pick a favorite from the list and make a tree-grown snack to enjoy and share in gratitude.

6. Find a spot to relax under a shady tree. Lie down and look up through the branches and leaves. Lean against the trunk and read a book. Pack a picnic to eat in the shade...

7. Write a poem about a tree in honor of Arbor Day and National Poetry Month. Pick a tree in your yard to write about... or conjure up an image of the most beautiful - or unusual- tree you can imagine. Be creative! Read some of these famous poems for inspiration.

8. Observe what animals, insects, and birds live in and around the trees in your area. Think about what role the trees play for the wildlife (shelter, food, rest). Consider starting a nature journal in which to record your observations.

9. Volunteer time or donate money to a local tree-planting organization and help grow trees and community! Visit www.arbordaynow.org to find out where and how you can make a difference in your area.

10. If nothing else, go outside and hug a tree today. It's a sweet and simple way to express your gratitude for all the benefits trees offer to you and your planet. Plus, it feels great!

***How do you celebrate Arbor Day?***
Help this list grow by adding a comment!


Enter to Win... 8 Weeks of Backyard Fun!

offers eight weeks of guided fun, including outdoor activities, indoor projects,
arts & crafts, kid-friendly lessons, field trip ideas, recipes, and more.
Don't miss this fun & affordable family resource for summer!
**Enter to Win a Copy**
see below
Here are images from my family's adventures with the At-Home Summer Nature Camp
when it debuted (And an overview of each week's materials):
A Spot in the Shade Week
Simple Tent Making - Pack a Picnic - A Wishing Tree Basket
Nature Study & Play Bag: Insects! - Field Trip: Hop on the Bus, Gus!
pictured: wishing tree basket craft
 Ponds & Frogs Week
Raising Tadpoles - Pond Scum Smoothies - Five Little Speckled Frogs
Pond Dipping - Field Trip: Visit an Aquarium or Zoo
pictured: five speckled frogs on a log craft
 An Edible Garden Week
Farmer's Market Photo Scavenger Hunt - Farmer's Market Recipes
Fruit & Veggie Stamping - Plant a Pizza Garden - Field Trip: Visit a U-Pick Farm
pictured: local fruit & veggie stamping craft

Rain, Rain Week
Make a Rain Gauge - Cheesy Croutons & Tomato Soup - After the Rain Color Quest
Raindrop-Inspired Watercolor Painting - Field Trip: A Puddle Walk
pictured: make your own rain gauge project & rainwater art
The Night Sky Week
Batik Star Maps - Honey Popcorn Planets - Star Mobile & Pins
Make a Telescope - A Virtual Field Trip: Blast Off to Space
pictured: star map project, honey popcorn planets treat, star pin board craft, virtual field trip
Sun Fun Week
Make a Pizza Box Solar Oven - Honey Herb Lemonade - Icarus Myth Peg Dolls
Make a Shadow Sun Dial - Field Trip: Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole
pictured: Icarus myth peg dolls (story telling, art & play!)
At the Beach Week
Beach Small World Play - Gluten Free Sand Dollar Snickerdoodles - Sand Candles 
Family Beach Mandalas - Field Trip: Dig Your Own Sea Turtle Nest
pictured: sand dollar snickerdoodle cookies
Wildflowers & Bees Week
Make a Native Bee Condo - Homemade Honey Ice Cream - Meadow Branch Weaving
"Wild" Flower Mud Pies - Field Trip: Go on a Wildflower Hunt
pictured: wild flower mud pies & bee condo project
This one-of-a-kind resource also includes two all-summer-long projects, and custom-selected book and media suggestions to accompany every weekly theme!
Learn More & Purchase for Instant Download Here

Giveaway over.
Congratulations to Megan Lunt!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Place of Enchantment

I've written before about visiting the Cross Creek, Florida estate of author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. After a third, recent visit, I remain enchanted. Something about this place just speaks to me, from the typewriters on the front porch and in the bedroom...
(The books on the shelf are all by authors who visited Rawlings at her Florida home - including Robert Frost, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Mithcell, and Thornton Wilder!)
...to the tiny kitchen showcasing cast iron, fresh eggs, and home-canned produce.
Nature collections in baskets on the porch included treasures ranging from antlers and gourds, to wasp nests and a turtle shell, to pinecones and sea shells. I even spotted a found nest tucked in a berry basket up on a shelf!
Fresh flowers, picked from the property, adorned every room.
And in the back, a gorgeous kitchen garden, chickens, and ducks. All this, tucked into an orange grove that was in full bloom - a scent that takes me back to memories of my childhood home, surrounded by a dozen citrus trees.
“I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.”
- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
I have more to say about this... about creating a "place of enchantment" for oneself... about writing and cooking and nature and flowers and gardening. Things I hold so dear. But for now, I just wanted to share this bit of inspiration via photos taken on a lovely weekend retreat with a dear friend.
xoxo - Liz


A Welcome Spring Celebration (+ Easter Basket Prep)

We had a little celebration of spring on Friday, the Vernal Equinox. When the girls came home from school, they were welcomed with fresh flowers (from our garden & yard!) and some favorite spring decorations. The spring books, a clear nature table, and baskets of plastic eggs awaited them. (My gals still love to play "egg hunt" - they take turns hiding and finding plastic eggs around the house.)
Our snack was simple, and all straight from Trader Joe's this year. It was a busy week, and homemade treats were forgone for colorful, sweet goodies (I love that TJ's uses fruit & vegetable based coloring). We had strawberry lemonade, chocolate sunflower seed drops, carrot cake cookie sandwiches, and gourmet jelly beans. It was a sugar-bomb of a party, followed by lots of outdoor play to burn it off! Later in the weekend, we planted the girls Easter baskets with wheatgrass seed - it's become a tradition to have real grass in their baskets. Here are last year's on Easter morning:
Need ideas for your baskets? Last year, ours included: Surf Sweets jelly beans, Eden dried fruit pocket snacks, Wild Friends chocolate coconut peanut butter packets, Glee Gum, Endangered Species Bug Bites, and Aura Cacia Cheering Foam Bath (all these came from our local natural foods store). Also: honey sticks, Play-Doh eggs, a votive candle, markers, wind up toys from Magic Cabin, Lindt chocolate bunnies, a book, and plastic bird water whistles.

Feel free to share basket filler ideas in the comments below!

xoxo - Liz


Spring = Strawberry Picking

Spring is the height of strawberry season here, and it's become an annual tradition for us to visit a local u-pick and gather a few berries straight from the source. Over the weekend, we checked out a new hydroponic farm nearby, where rows and rows of vertical planters dripped with juicy, red jewels. It was an idealistic setting and a gorgeous cool, sunny morning - a perfect ending to a full week of spring break fun.
My niece, my gals and a friend, my husband, and my mother all joined in. After filling our baskets, we explored the farm and took a little swing in some shady hammocks next to the chicken coop. On the way out, I stopped at the market stand for some produce and a few potted herbs & bell peppers to put in the garden. This is my kind of place!
We've been enjoying fresh baby spinach, radishes, and lots of strawberries (sliced and sugared) all weekend long. Spring!!

Read my Strawberry U-Pick It Guide.

And get recipes for

Quick Strawberry Jam Hand Pies

and Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette!

xoxo - Liz
PS - It's not too late to join A Natural Nest, the eCourse ... we're kicking off Week 1 today! And a group is gathering over on the A Sense of Place Community page where we're ramping up for some spring nature journaling. You can get the self-paced course guide here. Join in one, or both, for more spring goodness!


It Starts Next Week!

The inaugural session of A Natural Nest, the eCourse, starts Monday, March 16th! Join in as we focus on creating a holistic home.

I'm pretty excited to start the first session of A Natural Nest next week! It's a six-week eCourse packed with information, guidance, ideas, tips, projects, recipes, and more to help you create a seasonal, family-centered home. Will you be joining in?This course:
Gives you building blocks to lay the foundation for a beautiful and functional home.

Offers the framework to develop your family culture and create meaningful and memorable family time.

Provides direction in strengthening the heart of your home by creating a conscious kitchen.
Shares basic ideas for growing some of your own food right outside your home.
Helps you foster creative expression as a family, including making space for creativity in your nest.
Encourages you to build a community that will support your family, and ideas for gathering your tribe.
PLUS: fun ideas for family time, decorating with nature, hosting a potluck, a unique DIY meal plan calendar, a welcome spring party plan, homegrown smudge sticks, a family creativity journal, creating a peace center, and SO much more!

Don't miss out on the inaugural, spring session of

A Natural Nest. Learn more and SIGN UP now!