Aww, Geez. Thanks!

March 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

DSC_5068In just a mere TEN days, my book will be here! A few busy bees have peeked at it already. And this is what they’ve said…..





“Marcie Cuff makes nature even more fun than the way you find it. This is a book about imagination and creativity – and getting dirty. The projects in This Book Was a Tree remind us of the dozens of ways we can all connect with the natural world on a daily basis. And since Marcie writes from the heart, you can just feel the satisfaction and even joy you’ll get from connecting a little bit more with the world around you. She has ideas that everyone can try alone or with friends or family. She’s going to make a lot of lives simpler, happier and more plugged into the world that’s all around us.”  –David Yarnold, President & CEO, National Audubon Society

“It really is good to get dirty, and this is wonderful guidebook to exactly how!” –Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home

“This book still is a tree: to climb, survey and touch the simple wonders of nature. Marcie Chambers Cuff gives us back the physical world: Most of all, she returns it to our children.” –Adrian Higgins, Garden Columnist, Washington Post

“If orangutans, Asian elephants, and crows can improvise creative ways to interact with nature, Marcie Cuff shows us: so can we! You are very lucky that you have picked up this book! Now go get your hands dirty and have fun!” –Melanie Choukas-Bradley, naturalist and author of City of Trees

“Somewhere, in a book of advice on aging, I read a fine adage: Do something real every day. That’s good advice for people of every age. From the title of the book, through all of its pages of ideas and adventures, Marcie Chambers Cuff helps us remember what’s real and what makes kids and their families feel fully alive in a virtual age.” Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle

“Whether you live in a 20-story building in the middle of the city or on a 20-acre preserve, this beautifully illustrated book urges us all to explore the outdoors like never before. Full of fun, simple ideas and endless inspiration, Cuff’s book will help all ages get creative and get connected – to nature, to the process, and to the world in which we live.” –Bernadette Noll, author of Slow Family Living 

“A book that wonderfully captures the wandering and wonderment of my youth – and brings it to life again.  Part project, part prose, what was destined for my niece in New England, has managed to linger on my desk for too long.  I might even keep it for myself!” –M. Sanjayan, Lead Scientist and TV Host, The Nature Conservancy

“Marcie Cuff’s book is a treasure! Even a diehard nature-lover like me found new inspiration and ideas for getting my kid to put down the screens and come outside and explore, ask questions, and get our hands dirty while learning about this magnificent planet we share. Any parent who is frustrated by the draw of today’s relentless gadgets should bring this book home.” –Annie Leonard, author and host, The Story of Stuff

This Book Was a Tree is full of sparks to reignite your curiosity and engagement with the natural world around you.” –Toby A. Adams, Director of the Edible Academy, The New York Botanical Garden

“If we forget where we came from, we are lost.  Marcie’s book offers a path home and endless opportunities to learn.  We love what we know, so we have to begin with the knowing, and this book can help you begin.  This Book Was a Tree can help anyone to begin to love the natural world around them and want to be part of it.” –Ellen D. Ketterson, Distinguished Professor of Biology; Executive Producer, Ordinary Extraordinary Junco

“Marcie Chambers Cuff’s book, This Book Was a Tree, is a strong and creative shout out to all of us who are artists, teachers, naturalists, parents and simply, humans. This book begs us to put down our button pushing gadgets and challenges us to reconnect to the nature through pages of timeless projects, creative acts, and deep thought. From guerilla gardening to pinhole cameras to phenology, Ms. Cuff covers it all with the expertise of a scientist and a mother. This is not another book of “nature crafts” you can do with a paper plate or a corn husk. The introduction alone may bring you to tears with an urgent message speaking of global damage, environmental degradation, and ozone depletion. The author invites us to keep a foot in both worlds knowing that we can come to our senses through purposeful and fun exploration of the natural environment around us, no matter where we live. I applaud This Book Was a Tree for being a tree first and giving the author the pages to share with us the most important message of our time.” –Amy Butler, Director of Education for The North Branch Nature Center and founder of ECO – Educating Children Outdoors

 “It becomes obvious early on that writing This Book Was a Tree was a labor of love for author Marcie Chambers Cuff.  The passion in her words and conviction in her messages are real, and comforting.  Her message is simple: Step away from the A/V technology of the 21st century and go outside to experience the natural world.  Overcome the inertia of home comforts and go out and get dirty, poke things with a stick (dead things; which is how all wildlife biologists get their start), look around, use that acorn between your shoulders and become creative; think on your own.  This book is not just for city folk, nor is it just for kids.  It’s something to be shared between parent and child, teacher and student.  It belongs at home and in schools. It’s projects and adventures to be shared for years and among generations.” –Michael J. Petrula, Research and Management Biologist, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Anchorage, Alaska

Mossy. The Book.

January 22nd, 2013 § 6 comments § permalink


I am so very happy to (finally!) announce that Perigee/Penguin Books will be publishing….

a BOOK written and illustrated by ME

in APRIL of 2014!

My upcoming book is filled with projects that inspire you to touch, collect, document, sketch, decode, analyze, experiment, unravel, interpret, compare and reflect on the universe.  It is a funky hands-on guidebook for today’s pioneer—that person looking to explore the natural world and decipher nature’s perplexing puzzles.  The amateur explorer and the seasoned naturalist will be equally impelled to experiment and explore, and to consciously reengage in issues that matter.  The book kindles excitement in nature as a journey and an adventure.  It instills an old-fashioned sense of enthusiasm and independence.  Rooted deeply in everyday family life, it merges applied science, natural science, math, the arts and sustainable living in an interactive format.  How does a compass work?  Do frogs freeze in winter?  Why is rain not salty?  How is a cork made?  Or silk?  Or chalk?  Or pages in a book?  Often it’s the things we see every day that get overlooked.  You will find the answers in this book.  In my book.  And it will be awesome.

It will be a great collaboration.  It will be a great story.  And the story is this: to build lasting connections with our environment, we must determine the nature—the intrinsic value and realness—of everyday things—everything thought, felt, touched and eaten.  We must understand where things come from—how they are made, how they are used, how they impact the surrounding environment throughout a life cycle—and it starts with this book.

And this book will be here April of 2014.

And it will be awesome.

Stay tuned. There are a few things I cannot tell you—the book’s title will remain a secret for now.  But, if you have thoughts about what should be included in the book, please let me know.  I will put in the finishing touches these next few months.  I would love your input.  I would love for you to join me on this adventure.

Thank you for being patient with me lately.  I know I have not been around as much.  I will try to keep you in the loop from now on.

I am so super excited.


The Upcycled Book Box

October 26th, 2012 § 4 comments § permalink

If you are a livestock farmer, much of your day is spent fixing barns and pens and flat tires, unloading feed trucks, and moving livestock from one pasture to another. If you are a high-rise maintenance worker, your workday starts as you rappel down 20 stories to wash away window goop in bone-numbing cold and unpredictable wind.  If you are a high altitude alpine guide, a typical day includes repairing a broken climbing harness, carrying 40 pounds of gear up a ravine, cooking Mexican refried beans over a small pellet stove, and restringing your ukulele.  If you are a kid, your job is to play.

Childhood is a short season.  There is just this small pocket of time when a person alone in a room can be easily lured into designing an escape tunnel for some kind of top secret mission to protect innocent from evil—to criss-cross the globe and actively battle, risking it all, for the betterment of humankind (or doll-kind, or stuffed animal-kind).  Given a collection of plastic crates, large empty cardboard boxes, an old telephone, a map, buttons, phone books, fabric scraps, fake train tickets and postcards, my small girls can easily overcome impossible odds to obtain godlike Supergirl powers and defeat massive magical beasts. In just an hour.

But, adventures can get messy.  And oftentimes during this frantic hour or so the entire fabric bin is overturned, fuzzy scraps are transported into the bathroom sink, the bottle of buttons rolls under the dining table and its contents mingle with last night’s fossilized cornbread bits and a discarded grime-encrusted strawberry, giant cardboard boxes are dismantled and transformed into slides with detachable cat-sized dirigibles, awkward costumes wind up on innocent furry passersby, and permanent cap-less Sharpies magically appear and threaten to deface the sofa.

I cannot pretend that this does not sometimes bother me.

Sometimes, just sometimes, when I am without much time or patience (which lately seems to be fairly often), things are better when they are completely flat—not things like baby bellies, tires, or lakes without wind—but things that are held in small busy hands.

My two girls make small flat things they call Paper Pets.  They never got fully into the doll thing, but these paper critters are really just like paper dolls and, in fact, they have very similar accessories, but without the bling.  These flat friends have beds, brushes, bows, collars and treats—and they are perfect for that quiet rainy afternoon when we have just an hour to pop them out and then tuck them away nicely.  For a long time, we kept them secured in an old manila folder, but just the other day we upgraded their home and then moved them in.


To complete this simple project, you will need the following:

An old hardcover book (8 x 10 in or larger, 300+ pp)

Mod Podge or watery glue (1 part glue to 2 parts water)

Paint brush

Utility knife



Plastic wrap


This requires an old hardcover book.  Choose it wisely.  Do not choose a book that your great aunt gave you for high school graduation.  Do not choose a handwritten copy of J.K. Rowling’s “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” or an 1827 copy of Audubon’s “Birds of America.”  Do not choose a book that looks even slightly interesting, or one that you plan to someday reread.  You will not ever get to read this book again.

Open the book to the first page (or flyleaf).  Draw a line one inch from each edge of the first page (including the spine)—this will determine the interior dimensions of the box.  With the ruler as a guide, carefully cut along each line with a utility knife.  Apply enough pressure to cut several pages at a time.  After you cut through a large section of pages, you may need to turn these back to get farther along in the book.  Leave at least a few of the book’s last pages as a box “bottom.”  Again, open the book to the first page and inspect the cut edges.  Clean up all bits and pieces and rough edges with the utility knife.

With Mod Podge and brush, generously paint all book pages that follow the box “bottom” so they will stick together.  Make a cup of tea.  Close the book and sit on it for a few minutes to flatten.  Drink your tea.  Clip out a photo or magazine print to use as a decorative box bottom—use Mod Podge to seal.  Paint the book’s inside edges with Mod Podge, leaving the book’s exterior unpainted.  Allow it to soak in and then apply a second coat.  Paint all surfaces inside the box.

Place a generous layer of plastic wrap inside the box.  Fill the box with a small book.  Place a layer of plastic wrap over the small book.  Close the book.  Allow it to dry overnight underneath something heavy.

Remove the plastic wrap.  Check to be sure the book is dry.  Fill it with flat friends or small special somethings like a collection of heart-shaped rocks or worm-like twigs, or secret plans for potential scientific inventions.  Lucky us, we found our Vol 1 and Vol 2 within a slipcase.  We transformed both volumes into paper pet book boxes and then painted the entire slipcase—first with a layer of gesso to provide some texture, then with a few fancy layers of acrylic paint.  Alternatively, decorate the actual book cover.  Or leave it unadorned and mysterious.

A magical box can be your new best friend—it allows time for smallish people to become quietly immersed in little things.  It promotes stillness.  And it is this stillness that helps provide focus during times of clutter and chaos.  Which, at our house, is most of the time.




Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with book at Mossy.