I can be the first to tell you that I am not one with nature. I spend more evenings indoor than I would like to admit (please refer to my pale, un-tanned legs for evidence). I've been spoiled by chairs and air-conditioned rooms. Why should I go outside when I have everything I need and more, all within a 100 feet radius? However, one unexpected day trip changed everything. I am now a nature buff (kind of).

            My relatives and family wanted to go hiking at the local state park for a weekend activity. The day trip started off pretty rough (did I mention I was still inside my home at this point?). The prospect of being surrounded by nothing but trees was enough to freak anybody out. As I hesitantly stepped out of the car, I realized nature wasn't that bad. As soon as I heard the laughter from my kids, my hesitation went to the back of my mind. I started to genuinely enjoy myself. As I hiked along, I noticed that nature is extremely beautiful. The flowers bloom of all different colors and the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. One of my kids picked up the prettiest pine cone I have seen, which sent the whole family into a frenzy of trying to find other cool items. After this trip, I am officially a fan of nature, and am no longer afraid of the great outdoors.

            There's really no need to spend tons of dollars buying generic designs from our local home store. A lot of beautiful things can be found when taking nature hikes. Though not all may be taken home as a souvenir, we can still find items once in a while that we can take with us and use to decorate our home.  When going on these collecting trips, there are some tips and rules we should abide by, especially when we are doing this with our children. Here are some of them:


  • Stay hydrated: if you know you are going to be outdoors for an extended amount of time, be sure to have a large enough water supply handy. Staying hydrated is especially important during hotter months.
  • Respect your surroundings: remind  your children to be courteous to nature. We should leave items where we find them. Check with your local park to see if you are permitted to pick up items and take them home before doing so.
  • Have your kids ask for permission: before touching anything found during the hike, we must get our children to get in a habit of asking for consent before touching or picking up the item. We have to be cautious of poisonous plants and unsafe animals and bugs.


            To make the most of your hikes, keep your kids entertained by constantly sharing educational information while walking. Share fun facts about plants and animals as you see them.  For example, tell them about habitats of certain birds and how they fly. Or, show your kids which plants they should stay away from. Keeping your kids constantly amused is what's going to make them more inclined to go hiking with the family again. Not to mention, it also makes the trip more enjoyable for you. If your area permits, collect a few nature "specimens" for a decoration they can put in their room to commemorate the trip.

            Parks are not the only places with excellent items to pick up for your home. The beach is also teeming with good prospects (don't forget to check if your beach allows this before doing so). For example, seashells and little clam shells make very nice embellishments for art projects. With a little glue and imagination, your kids can make beachy picture frames or embellished flower pots. If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon sand dollars, collect them to display on your mantel!

            Nature is a great resource for excellent decorating items--all for free and right in your backyard too. With a little creativity and work, we can have unique pieces for our home that cannot be found at any store. Not only that, but each item will also have its own unique story that goes along with it. Next time you are out and about, take a look around and see what you can find. Keep an open mind. You might not always find what you are exactly looking for, but you might find something even greater and better.