November 2011

Nature Crafts for Christmas: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Wreaths, Ornaments and Decorations

It’s always entertaining to me when I see a professional do-it-yourselfer like Martha Stewart grab a few branches from her perfectly manicured landscaping and turn it into a festive holiday wreath. While I can hold my own in certain areas of home decorating, with my wife’s help, I’ve never had much confidence in my skills with turning beautiful things in nature into crafty pieces of décor for my home.

I am, however, a father of three boys, and love to share my love of nature with my sons. So, I thought I’d give some simple nature crafts a shot to decorate for Christmas. Not only would it save some money on new decorations, but I could work on the little projects with my boys. We could get outdoorsy to find the materials we’d need, and then enjoy some cocoa while we made some ornaments, wreaths and other decorations for our home, as well as gifts.

Volcano: A Visual Guide


Nature boasts many mind-blowing marvels and gorgeous, dramatic wonders, but none are so awe inspiring and unique as its volcanoes. They're are amazing monuments of Mother Nature's awesome power. From the outside, they can seem like stunning, but benign features on a landscape, but inside fury brews at extreme and devastating temperatures.

In Volcano: A Visual Guide, author Donna O'Meara shares 250 incredible photos of some of the world's most renowned and powerful volcanoes. The pictures range from dormant volcanoes to lava-spewing behemoths. The images are as amazing as the beasts themselves and gives you a peak at nature at its most extreme from the safety and security of your own home.

If you or your children are curious or fascinated by volcanoes, you've got to get your hands on this book. The visual experience is like nothing I've ever seen, and my kids are captivated by its beauty and mysterious power as I am.

Discover Nature In The Winter


With snow flying in various areas around the country, there's no doubt that winter is on its way. As a nature lover and a dad to three boys, winter is always a challenge. Beyond building snowmen and having some spirited snowball fights, outdoor activities have always seemed limited.

Hungry for some new things to do to get outside and enjoy the unique offerings of winter's calming atmosphere, I started poking around for some resources to take ideas from. I love showing my kids exciting new things, doing experiments to fight boredom and expand their knowledge of the world around them, but the limitations brought on by winter has always limited my creativity. I needed something to spark their interest and keep the cabin fever at bay.

When I was clicking around, I came upon Discover Nature in the Winter by Elizabeth P. Lawlor. The book is full of fun experiments and activities for children and adults alike, all surrounding the natural beauty and wonder of winter.

Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds In Song


My father-in-law has worked in a factory for almost 40 years, and about 20 years ago, he made the move from a large Chicago suburb to a small hobby farm out in the country. After a long day at work, he's found much-needed and deserved solace in looking out the window at all the birds in the area.

What started out as a mild distraction while settling in for the night has turned into a great love for the natural wildlife outside the walls of his personal haven. As the years have gone by, he's added a variety of birdhouses, feeders and birdbaths around his house, so as he moves from room to room, a different nature scene is unfolding, right in his very own yard.

Shopping for his birthday and holidays was once easy, but there are only so many birdbaths a yard really needs before you cross the line from nature lover to the weird bird guy down the road. My wife decided to start looking for books that would give him a different insight into his little visitors, and while he's like them all, his favorite so far has been Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds In Song.