Monthly Archives: October 2011

How to make a bracelet out of plant fibers

The following video shows you step-by-step how to make a bracelet, or neckless out of plant fibers. It’s really easy, just happened to be easier to show you through video. This was the first piece of jewelry Joe ever gave me. Come to think of it, it’s just about the only piece of jewelry Joe’s ever given me. Smart man.

The final product will look something like this, depending on what type of plant you use.

I apologize for the camera shakiness in the first minute. Turns out holding an iPhone steady is an art form I had not yet mastered.

Outdoor (ish) Themed Do-it-yourself Halloween Costumes

If your like me, you’ve procrastinated making your child’s Halloween costume.  Now, with less than a week to go, you’re frantically looking through your cloth scraps, first-aid kits, and compost pile for something you can strap to your child and call it a ‘costume’.  “But I look like a soggy English muffin” your child says, looking in the mirror.  “Nonsense!” you parry, “That’s the darndest unicorn costume this side of the Mississippi!”

For the sake of your child, we’ve put together a small list (well, it started out small) of nature-esque costume ideas that you can throw together with ease.  Well, most of them, some are probably a little to advanced, but we’re craft-challenged. (more…)

Live from New Mexico

This is the week of my semi-annual Mom’s vacation (er… retreat–we’re working hard here?). On Tuesday I traveled through Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Colorado before settling here at Olivia’s adobe house in New Mexico (ole!).

So far highlights have included:

  • Hitting a deer while driving Olivia’s truck (note I would never do this in my own vehicle).
  • Seeing the Rio Grande for the first time in recent memory, to which my intital response was “that’s it?” (guess I’d expected it to be a little more Grande).
  • Discovering that you have to actually get out and hike along the Rio Grande to appreciate it.
  • Cooking really great Indian food and not listening to one single complaint (not that I don’t miss my children dearly).
  • Sneaking up on about 9 big horn sheep, and feeling like a National Geographic photographer (my brother, Mr. Elusive is going to be so proud). The females and young ones were out sunning while the ram hid in the shadows of a rock. I took about 50 pictures. Behold my favorite, can you see the third sheep?

So many outdoor (and otherwise) adventures left to have this week. Ode to the Mom vacation. And Ode to Joe and his Mister Mom abilities.

Facing my fears: clipless vs toe clips

I’m pretty sure I’m the only mountain biker I’ve seen in years who still uses baskets (otherwise known as toe clips).  You’d think that this observation alone would have been enough to get me to switch to clipless pedals.  Nope.  There was NO WAY I was going to hook myself to my pedals.  What if I couldn’t get my foot out?  I’ve seen it happen to others; it’s not pretty.  I really didn’t want to be the girl lying sideways in the trail, still straddling her bike, still hooked by her feet to those tiny metal clips, still wishing she hadn’t entrusted her life to them.  It just seemed so… dangerous.

Oh, and I’m stubborn, resistant to change, a tight wad, and possibly a little overly sentimental.  I’d already traded my cutoffs for bike shorts.  My tevas for shoes (albeit New Balance sneakers).  My bandana for a helmet.  My Gary Fisher for my Cannondale.  My baskets were the last piece of the 90’s I had left!

Still.  When a rep from Pearl Izumi contacted me about reviewing some gear on my blog I knew in an instant what I had to do.  The time had come.  It was time to join the legions of mountain bikers around the world and go clipless.  It was time to face my fears.

I got my Elite II’s in the mail a few months ago. I was immediately intimidated.  They sat on the living room floor where I could see them every day.  I’d vacuum around them, tell myself that tomorrow was the day… I biked all summer with my baskets, assuring myself that each ride was the last.  “I’ll try them on the next ride” I’d tell Joe.  Pretty soon I started wondering if I should just send them back.

Then one day, for no reason other than that it was Tuesday, I went for it. (more…)

Stephanie – Raising an 11-year-old competitive kayaker

You may not know Stephanie by her given name. But you may recognize her by her alter ego:  Sage Donnelly’s Mom.  Sage is a competitive kayaker, a diabetic, a philanthropist, was recently nominated for Sports Illustrated Kid’s SportKid of the Year and is rumored to have the most infectious grin ever seen floating down a body of swift moving water.

Did I mention that she’s eleven years old?  When I was eleven, I was still figuring out how to floss.

I figured that behind an amazing kid like that, there had to be equally amazing parents. I was right.

I’ll let Stephanie speak for herself–you’ll see what I mean.  But let me point out one thing so that you don’t miss it. In the corner, in the background, or somewhere in nearly every picture or video posted here, you’ll see a little lime green Jackson kayak.  Those are the parent’s boats–in each photo you can see either Stephanie or her husband watching or leading their daughter.  Would that we all had someone in a lime green kayak bearing witness as we challenged ourselves and attempted new and scary things!  Always there, ready to pull us out should something go wrong, and the first to hi-five us when it all goes right.  These guys know what family is all about.

Thank’s again Stephanie for doing this interview, and for being half of the equation that raised such an amazing kid.

Oh yeah, one other note.  Mouse over the pictures for explanatory captions.

First of all, just curious. We’re you involved in outdoor sports as a kid?

I was an avid runner as a kid, competing in my first 10k when I was 6 years old.  I also played soccer, softball, volleyball and ran track.  I loved to hike in the mountains and was very good at catching lizards and snakes in the fields around my house, a hobby my daughter is also involved in!

Of all the outdoor sports, why kayaking?  What is the appeal for you? (more…)

Is just being outside good enough?

Back in May Lindsey and I happened to find ourselves killing time before a movie in some suburban area of Las Vegas. We weren’t sure where to go to since neither of us live there, but when we saw a bit of green with a playground and a baseball diamond, we figured we could sit on that grass quite happily for as long as we needed. We ended up strolling past a skate park. An acre of concrete molded into ramps, half-pipes, and pools, with hand rails sprouting here and there from the hard cement.

Fifteen kids, aged ten to twenty maneuvered though the obstacles. Some were clearly experienced: they gave the sense of a deep understanding of the dynamics created by that shaped concrete, combining graceful forays down curves with abrupt stops on ledges, where they’d balance on wheel posts, as frozen as the cement, for a split second. Others were just beginning. Three boys on bikes almost too big for them navigated a half pipe, braving the steepest most dreadful moment when they had to first drop in. One timid boy did the entire half-pipe straddling the bar of his bike, foregoing pedals for the security of keeping his heels on the pavement. We smiled while watching these same three boys figure out how to get out of the half-pipe too. “You have to go fast!” one braver boy encouraged the timid one.

There was no green grass, no dirt, no sticks or leaves, no living thing but the boys on their bikes. Here, in this environment as barren as any indoor space, these kids were learning courage, creativity, and confidence. They practiced social skills, encouraged each other, looked out for each other, challenged each other. They learned to focus on the task at hand, and to get up and try again when they fell down; to push themselves (“you have to go fast!“) in order to accomplish. They learned balance, body-eye coordination, and how to assess outcomes quickly, as conditions changed.  And they burned off lunch and that after-school snack to boot.

We were stymied.  Thrown off our game.  These kids were outside, but they weren’t in nature.  And yet what we saw seemed perfectly good and healthy.  And we got to thinking, was just plain being outside, away from electric plug-ins, good enough? (more…)

Today, a question…

Today, we want to tap into the amazing experience and philosophies of the many moms and dads who send their kids outside everyday (and who read this blog).  So we’re asking a simple question.  We hope you’ll take the time to answer it, and ask your friends to stop by our site and answer it too!  Tomorrow, we’ll post the results…

There’s three methods by which you can answer this question:

1)  If you’re friends with us on facebook (, you can pop on over there and answer the survey question we’ve posted.

2)  You can leave your answer, with any additional comments you’d like to add, in the comments section below.

3)  You can go here, and fill in the bubble.


So here’s the question: (more…)

Pre-K Lesson Plan: How do Seeds Move?

Our co-op preschool is in full swing again. That means every 5 weeks I’ll be posting my lesson plan. This year’s charge is to find a way to incorporate the outdoors AND the Montessori method. Here is what I came up with this week.

Note:  Fall is the perfect time to be out searching for seeds. The kids loved it! Also note that this activity took me two days. One day we did the walk (“field work”), the next day we did the sorting (“lab work”).

To introduce the concept of how seeds travel (disperse), have a good excuse to get outside and explore, and practice sorting and categorization skills.

Bags (1 for each child, for collecting seeds)
Old socks (to walk around outside and attract seeds)
Egg cartons (1 for each child, for sorting seeds)
Touch Box (box full of seeds you have previously collected)
Worksheet about how seeds travel (see below)
Glue, tape, markers.
Book: The Tiny Seed by Eric Carl.

1. Read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carl.
2. Discuss: Do seeds move? How do they move? Do they have little legs? How far do they go? What would it be like to be a seed? etc…
3. Explain to the kids that today we are going to be scientists; we’re going to try and find seeds and figure out how they move. (more…)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia