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01 July 2015

Baths, Birds & The Beach

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Living in Puerto Rico means a change of habits, hobbies and health routines.  Instead of hot coffee in the morning, I grab it iced.  Instead of exercising in the afternoon, it is at dusk or dawn.  Instead of playing in the woods, we play in the sand and in the pool.  It is a different lifestyle and at times, difficult to adjust to, but here are three ways I am making it enjoyable and healthful.

The Beach

Friends, I really hate the beach.  I am not a sand girl, a sun girl, a salt girl, or a heat girl.  I truly am happiest on a dark, gloomy day in the 60's.  I knew that I would have to adapt however, and I knew the beach would be a favorite for the kids.  SO.  I bought 10 pairs of sunglasses.  No really.  If I hate the sun, I can at least not be squinting at it.  Buying glasses in bulk on clearance ($3-8 ish) so that there is always a pair available in every diaper bag, every beach bag, every table and porch -- it helps.

It also helps me to have a plan.  The Beach Book has been helpful providing ideas for beach crafts and outdoor ideas in general -- they don't all require sand!  I basically takes my mind off the fact that small critters might be climbing in between my toes and that the sun is baking me to a fine crisp.

All links below are Amazon links to items that I have purchased and tested.  I receive a tiny profit back from each purchase you make on Amazon after clicking through any of those links (yes, your diapers, toilet paper, deodorant, books and kindle purchases all count!) .  THANK YOU for supporting A Nest for All Seasons.

Doesn't that giant tower of sand  for ball rolling look fun??
dog-earred already -- a good sign!
You can find THE BEACH BOOK HERE for about $12 HERE on Amazon.  
Fiona Danks has also written Nature's Playground, Go Wild, THE STICK BOOK and The Wild City Book (among others).  I'd like to read 'em all :)
Something for everyone and they are all inexpensive little books ranging from $10-20 at the very most.  


  You see, I love birds, but I have no idea which kind is which beyond distinguishing a cardinal from a toucan.  I knew that Puerto Rico would give me a chance to check out new birds with new songs and I wanted to learn more.  It drops soon and I am trying to get my hands on a preview copy :)  Until then, I am googling like mad to figure out what all the birds are around here trying to eat our trash!

Follow along in real time on Instagram HERE


While Puerto Rico can be flaming hot, I still enjoy a nice hot bath.  I don't know what it is about a hot bath, even in the heat of summer, that is so relaxing and ironically cooling.  There is SO much heat that the shock of cool air (even if it is 90 degrees) is such a change?  I dunno.  All I know is that I still enjoy a nice long bath after long, humid days and the sameness of this routine from PA to PR has been comforting.

Homemade Bath Bombs Salts and Scrubs by kate Bello
Homemade Bath Bombs, Salts and Scrubs: 300 Natural Recipes for Luxurious Soaks 

Perhaps you are already a fan of essential oils and you would live in a bathtub were you able to and you just need a few recipes to get you started.  Homemade Bath Bombs, Salts and Scrubs: 300 Natural Recipes for Luxurious Soaks by Kate Bello is completely full, cover to cover, with bathing recipes for salts, balms, scrubs, you name it.  There is not a lot of superfluous writing, just recipe after recipe for you to try.  I am excited to try both the soothing Frankincense Salt Soak and  the cedarwood and Lavender Salt Soak.  This book also introduced me to several oils, scents and other natural elements that I had reviously not utilized, such as carrot oil, sunflower oil and neroli.  Suffice it to say, my wheels are turning with plenty of new ideas!

Homemade Bath Bombs Salts and Scrubs by kate Bello
You KNOW I like a book when it is dog-eared on the tops AND bottoms of pages!
I am now onto book FOUR of the Outlander series (THIS ONE) and eagerly awaiting Amazon Prime 
or Hulu or Netflix or SOMEONE getting the TV series up and available!  Happy Reading!
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You Only Have 10 Years of Magic ::: Hug Tins

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 This was such an easy project, but one that is working out really well for our household.  The idea is simple.  Give more love and attention.  The problem with the life of moms is that love is abundant, but attention is often hard to garner.  This simple little craft helps moms and kids tap into each other's needs for attention and gives kids a way to "act out" instead of misbehaving to get what they need.  The first time I saw a concept like this was on Ashley Ann's blog Under the Sycamore (her version HERE).  I decided to make my own tokens and set up our system a little differently.  Ready to begin?

Hug Tins and Tokens for Moms and Kids Craft Idea

The supplies for my tokens are a little "fancy", but you could certainly make similar little tokens with basic watercolors and colored pencils.  I decided to use these pretty pearlescent paints for a pretty finish.   You will also need some sort of little container and round wood cutouts.  These are VERY cheap and your little containers could easily be recyclables like a used tuna can, washed and edges sanded.

Hug Tins and Tokens for Moms and Kids Craft Idea

The final supply you MUST have is this letter punching set.  It will set you back $16 or so, but I use this supply ALL the time.  (See my clay plant labels and baking soda ornaments!) Well worth paying for this supply that might possibly outlast YOU and be passed on to the grandkids.  

Hug Tins and Tokens for Moms and Kids Craft Idea


 After you have rounded up your supplies, the fun begins!  Basically, you will want to identify simple actions that show love to your children.  Things you do all the time like giving a hug, saying I love you or dancing it out to Miranda Lambert (What?  You don't do that?).  Either write in the action with your letter punching tool or use an icon.  i.e. the heart below stands for a hug.

How to Use Watercolor Pencils

To make these little tokens, you start with the watercolor pencil.  
Simply draw a shape and loosely color it in.

How to Use Watercolor Pencils

Then take a brush with a tiny bit of water and blend the color.

How to Use Watercolor Pencils

Then, take your brush, dip it in your watercolor paints and draw an outline around the heart, 
leaving a border of bare wood.  This works best with more paint than water on the brush.

How to Use Watercolor Pencils

To finish, pull the color out towards the edges, making sure not to touch the bare wood border you made.
This particular step works best with a little more water than paint on your brush.

How to Use Watercolor Pencils

 For the tokens with words, the same technique of using a well watered brush 
and pulling the paint out towards the edges while leaving the letters bare makes for a pretty effect.

Hug Tins and Tokens for Moms and Kids Craft Idea

Here is the process from start to finish:

Hug Tins on Make A Gif

The words look best when no paint gets down in the grooves (in my opinion).  
However, some look really great with a darker color down in the grooves and a lighter color on top.

Hug Tins and Tokens for Moms and Kids Craft Idea

Blending a couple different colors makes a pretty, understated token.

Hug Tins and Tokens for Moms and Kids Craft Idea

The process:

There are three of each token.  Each week, we turn all the tokens over and play a game like memoryy to find three that match.  Once we find three, the boys grab them and throw them into their tin.  Once everybody has one of each, we cap them and put them aside.  The boys can use any token any time it is appropriate (i.e. silly minute or dancing crazy during naptime will not work) and once they use that particular token, it goes in a separate tin until the end of the week.  By the end of the week, everybody has put their tokens in our extra, fourth tin and we start all over again.  

Our tokens include:
  • A heart - hug
  • A book - for reading
  • A "good for one dance" token
  • Silly Minute (They can go wild WITH me for a minute)
  • One Game with Mommy
  • Storytime Token (not a book, a story from me)

Very simple.  Very rewarding.  DO IT.

Hug Tins and Tokens for Moms and Kids Craft Idea

To finish off the tins, I simply wrote the name of each boy on top with a copper Sharpie marker and colored in the edge of the rim in copper to match.  You could mod podge paper around the tins, paint them or leave them as-is.  This project would also work with a leftover glass pasta jar and scraps of paper.  Make it work friends.  Make it work.

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29 June 2015

5, 15, 50 ::: 3 Fun Fountains and the quickest only takes FIVE minutes!

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Remember this fountain-in-a-pot I made last month?  It took about 30 minutes to put together, due mainly to the plants.  Today I have THREE different fountains-in-a-pot to share with you and they take varying amount of times, from 50 minutes of assembly all the way down to FIVE!  Before we jump into HOW, let's talk about WHY ANOTHER FOUNTAIN for a minute.  I recently read this article on highly sensitive moms and how that particular mom uses windchimes to combat anxiety.  I use water. (though I plan to make some beachy windchimes soon as well!)

The basic premise is that some people are simply more highly sensitive to everything: sight, sound, smell, touch.  For example, smell -- I know when someone has eaten peanut butter literally from across the room and I can smell garden flowers and identify them from across the garden.  I can hear the whispers of my kids from the next room and I routinely stare out the windows on road trips and spot birds in the trees as we speed by at 70 MPH.  (My family jokingly refers to me as "Hawk Eye".)  That all sounds weird and mystical, but it is not.  I am simply tuned into EVERY stimulus around me all the time and that can sometimes get overwhelming, particularity in large social situations.  Considering that our family has 4 children, 3 of which are boys, our family basically IS a large social situation.  Home can often be loud, smelly and highly overwhelming to someone who hears, sees and smells everything.  ENTER WATER.

A constant, peaceful sound can help drown out baby shrieks and boys wrestling.  It can refocus attention from the doors slamming and reek of dirty socks so that I can actually DO something about the mess instead of just being overwhelmed by it.  Calming music, flickering candlelight, windchimes and yes, fountains, are classic ways to deal with high sensitivity.  Setting the phone to vibrate so it doesn't jolt with anxiety every time it rings helps too.  Let's talk about the water though, shall we?

This post is sponsored by smartpond.

You will only need a few basic things:

A POT (waterproof and preferably WITHOUT a drainage hole)

smartpond fountain 

WATER and electricity source

1. The Little One

Let's start with the fast one, shall we?  The most "laborious" part of this process is unpacking your fountain from the package.  So get your fountain pieces out of the box and make sure you have an electricity source close to where your fountain will be.  Grab a pot from your stash and if it has a drainage hole, use the stopper on the fountain cord to plug it up.  I have found that I much prefer to just use a pot without a hole and negate any risk of leaks.

Fill the pot 3/4 full with water and place the fountain base and filter (the square part) into the pot, fully submerged. 
 Attach the "stick" and your fountain topper. The container fountain kit comes with three types and the simple "bubbler" works best for the small pot.

Plug the fountain in and BOOM -- instant fountain.  

Note that I used  the small bubbling fountain head provided in the kit for this small pot as the water otherwise
will spray OUT of the pot and you will be manually refilling the pot constantly. See?

To utilize the other fountains streams, you will need a larger container...

2.  The Pretty One

You can turn ANY container into a fountain, including containers that are not water-proof themselves. You can waterproof using spray-on clear sealant on some planters.  For others, you simply need a liner.  A pond liner works great, but a sturdy trash bag can also do in a pinch.  Simply insert the liner into the container and secure to the edges.

Fill with water OR simply lace a smaller waterproof planter INTO the lined container.  

Plug the fountain in and:

3. The Big One

Sometimes you just need the sound of trickling water, but sometimes you want a show-stopping fountain of water that is both beautiful to hear AND see.  Enter the patio fountain.  This container is large enough to hold many gallons of water and utilize the various spray options without losing water or getting the surrounding area wet.

The smaller fountain I created used the smartpond Container Fountain Kit (or Bubbler as Lowe’s calls it.  You can buy here: HERE)  
The Patio Pond (pictured above and below) as well as a cool illuminated waterfall fountain have been discontinued, but you can find them HERE.

A few tips if you buy the full patio box set:

A. The warning about the aluminum sides is correct, they are SHARP on the cut edge.  I cut myself pretty well by not being careful.  Be careful.

B. The metal pieces have some slight variations, so before assembling them with the liner, lay them out in a square on the ground to get the corners lined up first.  Move the pieces around until the corners are perfectly touching.

C. I found the boxes easier to put together by assembling the box first, then assembling the metal pieces and liner upside down on the floor.

smartpond was kind enough to send several fountain kits to play with and I am excited to show you what I have planned!!
  Keep checking back for the full terrace makeover and a fun DIY!

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