Holiday Hacks by Hammer And Jack's

What better way to get a boost of shopping confidence than to go over a few key points from someone who knows the toy scene!

I had the opportunity to chat with the owner of Hammer & Jacks, Jillian Sevick,  one of Portland's hottest neighborhood toy stores, where she has beautifully curated a selection of gifts from new to classic & local to earth friendly! Here modern store front has a genius design to have the front space for shopping and the back space a play area/party rental -- she really has an knack for knowing what the families in the area need.

I was able to get some much needed tips and tricks for the upcoming season of gift giving and I am so happy to be able to share with my readers:

What are some great toy options this year?
"I'm a fan of the dustless chalk & booklets by Jaq Jaq, they're perfect for travel or at home. Magna-Tiles have been popular the last couple seasons and they have just come out with new styles. Bikes, trikes and balance bik…

Six Essentials For Your Adventure

When you are headed out for an adventure there are a few things you should try to pack. It's important to have the necessary items so that you are prepared when heading out into nature.
These 6 essentials are great for youngsters to carry themselves:  
-- Water -- First aide kit -- Whistle -- Trail snack -- Sun protection (hat and/or sunscreen) -- Flashlight
As an adult there are 10 essentials that will be life saving if you become lost in the wilderness. Here are the additional items:
-- Coat -- Space blanket -- Navigation (map & compass)  -- Knife (pocket knife)

Please remember that its important to be prepared as you never know what you may encounter. Pack accordingly

Thanks for taking time to stop by, Laura

If you are in need of gear for kids, teens, or adults please visit my Etsy shop for some great items

The Art Of Natural Dyeing - A Conversation with Jessica Unsell

"The Earth is one big spectrum of color" -- Jessica Unsell on the art of dyeing

We see so many mesmerizing colors in the the natural world and with some patience and knowledge it's possible to capture them onto our favorite medium. I talked to Jessica Unsell, creator of Wild Fire Water, about her passion for the natural dyeing process onto fabric. Her work speaks for itself in beauty and Eco-consciousness, creating heirloom pieces for anyone to enjoy. I had the pleasure of collaborating with her on my own recent project and wanted to expand on our conversation! Read on to hear what she had to say:

Tell us a little about the process of dyeing with natural materials. First of all, thank you for collaborating with me!  I love to “spread to love” of natural dyeing and see how the dyed fabric ends up.  The process of natural dyeing has many stages.  First the fabric is pre-treated before dyeing.  Since your canvas was cotton (cellulose plant fiber) it was scoured in hot water an…

Fall Reading List For Kids

Autumn brings a certain focus; I love this time of year to acquire some good reads for when the weather turns dark, or perhaps a nice respite from a long week at school.
It's so fun to surprise kids with a new book, because we all need a good story in our lives.
I've outlined a few books for both youngsters and school age kids -- check them out below:

For Kindergartners & Early Readers:

 I don't know a single person who doesn't enjoy If You Give A Mouse A Cookie;  by Lauren Numeroff. This delightful book is always a joy to read and seems like a great book pair with a fun  snack and craft.

 My children have been really inspired by Peter Reynolds and his books. They really give kids license to be who they are and that any artistic expression is beautiful. I'm delighted to see he's created a new book, The Word Collector and this is definitely on our reading list this season.

 The Ox-Cart Man is a classic story which begins in the Fall and shows the full cycle…

Autumn Family Nature Craft

We all know those little nature treasures that kids find on the trail. The sticks and stones, pine cones and twigs. Well there's a way to continue the exploration once we're home!
By taking those nature finds from the ground or off a bush and turning them into artwork we're allowing the conversation to continue, as well as letting children realize a project from start to finish; and can I tell you it's really hard not to jump in and create with them!
Here are some fun ideas on how to create those collections -- and let me just say watching kids follow their inspirations is the best part!

First assemble the items needed : Sticks Yarn Scissors Any nature finds -- example: pine cones, leaves , acorns
I'm going to show you two different methods, but please remember the options are endless and I do hope you and your family will explore what works for you!
The Nature Mobile is a winner because it can be added to at any time. A simple design is a stick with yarn tied at …

Through the Lava Fields

As I see more places I'm learning to appreciate the different landscapes that are available to explore. Lava fields are no different. We were lucky enough to visit the Lava Lands and at first glance I assumed a dead land, parched for water...

This is not true! An ecosystem lives among the 40 feet tall rubble and animals scurry around. Plants become visible if you look for them and it seems even this high altitude place has some secrets if you care to explore and listen and learn.

There was a lava tube which is an incredibly dark cave to explore, miles of field full with jagged black rocks, and a volcanic cone where we got to walk around the crater. It was incredible and I am so excited to learn more about this fascinating subject; particularly while thinking about the Hawaiian volcano which is actively reaching further into residential areas. I was glad to learn that the Hawaiian Islands supply leading scientist with most of our knowledge about volcanoes so plenty of eyes are on…

Modern Treasure Hunt : Geocaching

Have you heard of Geocaching? Or maybe you haven't thought about it in a while...

There are so many great outdoor activities to do as a family, such as in this blog post, and I can tell you it's pretty easy to add geocaching to whatever you are already doing.  It's a current day treasure hunt and is fun for everyone since there are so many types of caches to find. The urge to find the next cache can be quite thrilling and addictive!

As explained by Sue, an enthusiast, "It's multi-million dollar military equipment used to find Tupperware in the woods."  I recently went to an Into To Geocaching and was delighted to hear from Sue, who also used to be the president of the local chapter.

In basic terms you use your phone's GPS (or other mobile device) and an app to find the general location of a hidden object and then use clues to find the exact location. It's an interactive way to engage with the environment and the quiet of people who support it.

The on…