Monthly Archives: November 2011

Gift Ideas for Outdoor Families

Christmas is coming up (I know, duh). And while I’m sure most of you have all your holiday gifts squared away (wink wink), for those who don’t, this post may help. All are gifts that will encourage you and your family to be outside. Note that they are also realistic, I refrained from listing a Sportsmobile and the entire inventory at Jacks Plastic Welding.

Let’s get right to it, here are my top 10 picks. 5 Things you can make and 5 things you can buy. Plus links to other outdoor Mom bloggers who are posting about outdoor family gifts today as well.

I’d also be interested to know what your’re giving this holiday…

5 Things You Can Make/Assemble


Create your own ‘Olivia Bag’ (aka Survival Kit)

Olivia Bag /uh-LIV-ee-uh • ˈbāg/: a flexible container of random items compiled by Olivia for jimmy rigging anything (and just about any body) that breaks while out on an adventure.

The idea behind the Olivia bag (known to some as a ‘survival kit’) is that whether you’re hiking, backpacking, river-rafting, biking, or doing some other outdoor activity, the emergencies will generally fall into three categories:

1) Your equipment breaks.
2) You hurt yourself.
3) Something is inconvenient and annoying and needs an inventive remedy.

In all categories, the point is to fix the problem as best you can on the spot, making something that is ‘good enough’, and will get you back to the real world for a proper fix. I know it seems crazy, but I’ve used darned near every item in these bags at one time or another!

Make your own survival kit

I assure you that all these items fit into a small (5×6 or so) zipper pouch. You can use a make-up bag (found at most stores in the beauty isle, or at thrift stores), or something like a Pack-It Sac available at most outdoor stores.  You can even put all the small items into their own little baggies, purchased in the hobby section of your favorite “mart”.

My Olivia bag is actually divided up into two bags (pictured above). The first (larger bag) has all the non-medical essentials (known as the “Olivia Essentials” below). The second is smaller and fits snugly inside the first. This bag has all the first aid supplies (listed below as the “Olivia Medical”). (more…)

Tis the season, for pie and camping

Comments Off on Tis the season, for pie and camping

I don’t have a post prepared for today. Just seemed sac-religious to spend time blogging when I could be up to my elbows in mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and sunshine.

I’m off for a weekend of family, food, friends, biking and costal sunsets. I’m off to re-visit this beach, kids in tow.

Feeling thankful for a variety of things as of late; including all of you for occasionally stopping by my little piece of the internet.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

The Day After: What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers

Turky Pot Pie

When I was growing up, the days immediately after Thanksgiving were as fun as the Big Feast itself (which, for the record, is one of my favorite holidays—what’s better than focusing on the things in life that make you grateful?  Focusing on the things in life that make you grateful while eating).

We’d head out camping.  Seems like no one else went camping after Thanksgiving and we usually had the whole backwoods to ourselves.  A warm fire, lots of hot chocolate or apple cider, and a new place to explore—life was perfect.  We’d always bring along the Thanksgiving leftovers, and cook them up in the Dutch ovens.

So, looking for something to do in the days after you’ve filled your belly?  Forget the Black Friday sales events and crowds, I’ve got the perfect cure for a Turkey-induced hangover.  Head outside to work off the extra calories you and yours ingested the day before.  And bring the leftovers!

Here are two Dutch oven recipes that use up common Thanksgiving leftovers (and one that follows the Thanksgiving theme, but starts from scratch).  (more…)

10 ways to get down a hill

In honor of Every Day is a Play Day Week (Nov 14-19) we bring you this post. Thanks go to Active Kids Club and Polarn O. Pyret for sponsoring such an important endeavor. For more ideas on making every day a play day check out these get outside ideas.


It’s snowing here in New Mexico.  For the third time in two weeks.  The leaves are gone, and the poor naked trees look cold and glum.  In an effort to cheer myself up before the impending short and shivery days, I’ve been thinking about winter activities and snowy-fun.  What’s the best part about winter?  How easy it is to get downhill.

Downhill Bliss

Forget the legos.  The building blocks.  The Star Wars figurines and plastic food items.  All a kid really needs to have a good time is a hill.  (And, okay, let’s be honest–all I really need to have a good time…)  Without further ado, I present 10  ways to get down a hill. For those of you who have yet to experience the chill associated with the coming winter, I’ve included several non-snowy options.  I look forward to your own additions in the comments. (more…)

Yes, I was ‘that mom’ at the mud hole

A few months back, a friend of mine posted this picture on her facebook account, it left me inspired.

I fell in love with it immediately.  To me the picture says don’t be too uptight. It says nice clothes are wasted on kids.  And it says it’s okay to be that mom. I think of this picture all the time, and it reminds me not to stand in the way of my kids’ bliss, simply because I don’t want to deal with the dirt.

Thanks for writing up your story, Kristal. This is one trip to the park your kids will never forget! (more…)

Camping and the art of kid cleanliness

Keeping kids clean while camping.

It’s been said that one of the major obstacles of camping with kids is how to clean them up at the end of the day. While I don’t have any magic formula for keeping kids from getting dirty when camping (since playing in the dirt is kind of the point) I have learned a thing or two about cleaning them up so you don’t have to put a filthy kid to bed in the tent.

Usually you can get away with a simple wash down, #1 or #4. But then there are those occasions when your child’s skin color has changed dramatically, they stink, and/or they have sand and poofy dirt in places that just seem uncomfortable. This may or may not take a few days to accumulate. For those occasions you may need to bust out #2 , #3 or #4. (more…)

Debi – Getting outside every day

You may not think you know who Debi is, but if you click on the links found in many of our posts, you’re sure to have come across her blog at least once. It’s one of my favorites. Want to know why? Simple:

Debi’s blog reminds me that I don’t need to plan big grandiose adventures all the time in order to instill an appreciation for nature in my kids. It can come from the little things I choose to do every day. It can come just by making an effort to be outside, even if just for 15 minutes, every day.

Her blog is full of those simple little daily ideas (well, and a few grandiose ones…)

Thanks for doing the interview Debi, and for taking the time to create the amazing resource known as Go Explore Nature.

Quick note: Debi has two adorable sons, referred to here as the Big and Little Explorers.

1. Where did you gain your love for the outdoors? Was this something you grew up with (and if so, tell us about your upbringing), or something you stumbled on later in life (and if the latter, tell us the story!)?

I grew up in the city but was fortunate enough to have access to an enormous outdoor space in our backyard. I never thought twice about being outside. Most afternoons, I played in the dirt, climbed trees, picked boysenberries off our vines (or tried to sneak pomegranates!) and played Hide and Go Seek with my older brother. We also rode our bikes everywhere.

Beyond our backyard, there was our family cabin in Yosemite National Park, where we spent two weeks every summer. We hiked, swam in the river, rode horses, hung out doing nothing and always made tons of friends. Believe it or not, at the time I actually hated our summer trips to Yosemite; being away from my friends seemed like torture. But when I left home for college, it didn’t take long for me to miss the place, and the slower pace of life I had experienced as a kid.

Of course now I try to get to the cabin as many times a year as possible – and always at least two weeks every summer. It is here that I seek solace when life presents its biggest challenges and where I go to slow down and find reminders of what’s most important to me. I hope my kids come to love the place as much as I do. (more…)

Random News Worth Checking Out

Often, in our internet wanderings we come across an interesting study, a fabulous article or some other random thing. I typically post such finds on facebook or twitter. I’m terrible at tweeting, but have you noticed all the cool stuff on our facebook page these past few months? That’s because I made Olivia an administrator. Days when there’s actually stuff posted on the facebook page it’s because Olivia is successfully distracting herself from dissertation writing. It’s great!

BUT, for those who may have missed a good link, or aren’t on facebook, I’m posting a few favorites I’d recommend checking out. And #6 is totally random, but it’s something I’ve thought about a lot this month, therefore it’s also worth mentioning.

If you’ve come across any noteworthy links in your internet wanderings leave it in the comments!

1. Things to do with your kids this winter:
Turn a table into a playhouse with a few roller shades and some markers. Get a cardboard box (this video is awesome, all 8 minutes of it, trust me), or maybe several… Make a biosphere that can actually keep things alive! (more…)

Silence is golden, duct tape is silver


What do MacGyver, astronauts, and writers have in common?

We all keep rolls of duct tape in our backpacks, our cars, our boats, our spaceships, and our homes.

Ah, the sticky stuff.  That super-adhesive, water-repellant, ultra-durable, handyman-staple:  Duct tape.  I love the sound it makes coming off the role.  The slightly synthetic smell.  But mostly I love the many ways it can be used.  Is there anything in the universe more versatile?  I imagine aliens in every galaxy find it as useful as we do…

Today, we celebrate duct tape and its many uses.  Here’s just a handful of the ways this substance can improve your life.  Did we miss one?  Tell us about it at the end!

Fix Something

1. You can use duct tape to patch darn near anything!

  • Backpacks, tents, shoes, hats, or any other leaky piece of equipment.  Duct tape sticks to itself as well as it sticks to anything else.  Put a piece on the inside of the hole, and another on the outside, and stick the pieces together through the hole!  Problem solved.
  • Also, ski pants.  I fall a lot on my skis.  I use duct tape at the hems to patch up the rips caused by my edges cutting into the sides of my ski pants every time I tumble.
  • Bathtub leaking?  My aunt’s tub has a crack in the floor.  She just taped it over with a strip o the sticky stuff.  That tube probably has another ten years of good use now. (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