Author Archives: Jen

A New Take on the Letterboxing Journal ~ Create a Letterboxing Smash Book


Learn more about a new twist on the traditional letterboxing journal. Instead of just stamping in a logbook, keep a Smash book that includes photos & more.
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know that I am an avid letterboxer.  From the thrill of the hunt, to the challenge of carving an intricate rubber stamp, to documenting our adventures in a letterboxing journal – I love it all.

If you have never heard of letterboxing before – read this.

Letterboxing – Outdoor Fun for the Whole Family

I have always kept a letterboxing journal to collect all the stamps from the b0xes we find.  However, there was something so impersonal about just collecting the stamped images in a logbook.  I wanted a place for the stories from our adventures, as well as pictures and memorabilia from our outings.  So I started scrapbooking our letterboxing adventures – Smash Book style.  I have been having so much fun putting it together, I thought I would share.

Smash Books are an off-shoot of scrapbooking.  It is basically an anything goes style of documenting your memories.  It reminds me of the scrapbooks my mom kept for me in the 70’s and 80’s.  You can be as creative as you want.  No rules, just put your photos and memorabilia in the pages however you want.  To learn more about this style of scrapbooking, be sure to look through my Smash Book Pinterest Board.

Learn more about a new twist on the traditional letterboxing journal. Instead of just stamping in a logbook, keep a Smash book that includes photos & more.

For documenting my letterboxing adventures, I have been using the K&Co Eco Style Smash Book.  Its pages are mostly outdoor-themed, so it is just perfect for an activity that involves hiking and enjoying the great outdoors.  I have only come across a couple of pages that don’t really fit.  For those,  I just use patterned paper to wallpaper the page.

One thing that has always bugged me about the traditional letterboxing journal is those inevitable times when you don’t get a clear image.  Most letterboxes I know just stamp it a second time and be done.  My solution for some time has been to stamp on sticker sheets.  If I get a bad impression from a stamp – no big deal.  I just stamp another one.  These stamped images are quick and easy to add to your journal because they already have adhesive on the back.  When we get home from my outing, I cut each image out and then stick it in my journal.  Since I have started keeping a letterboxing Smash Book, I still use the sticker sheet  method.

Learn more about a new twist on the traditional letterboxing journal. Instead of just stamping in a logbook, keep a Smash book that includes photos & more.

Whenever we go out letterboxing, I always along my camera.  You never know when you might find an unusual container – like the Dublin Riverboxes – or come across a gorgeous view.  So my letterboxing Smash Book also includes pictures from our adventures.  (I usually print these as 3″ x 4″ photos so they don’t take up too much room on the page.)

Learn more about a new twist on the traditional letterboxing journal. Instead of just stamping in a logbook, keep a Smash book that includes photos & more.

Other things I include in my Smash Book are first finders certificates, brochures from parks we visit, National Park Passport Stamps, and any post cards I might pick up.  Sometimes I cut the brochures up and just use small bits on my pages.

Learn more about a new twist on the traditional letterboxing journal. Instead of just stamping in a logbook, keep a Smash book that includes photos & more.

Sometimes I keep the brochures whole.  For easy viewing of any brochures I want to include, I have been making pocket pages.  That way I can remove the brochure and look through the whole thing if I want.  Alternately you can use washi tape on the top edge to stick the brochure to the page so you can still open it up and read it.

Learn more about a new twist on the traditional letterboxing journal. Instead of just stamping in a logbook, keep a Smash book that includes photos & more.

One thing I am doing to keep the look consistent throughout the Smash Book is to use a Dymo Label Buddy to make labels with the names of the letterboxes.  I then stick that below the corresponding stamped image.  I like the look of it and it’s easy to tell at a glance the names of the stamps.  It’s a bit time-consuming process though, so I am not sure if I will continue this in future logbooks.

Learn more about a new twist on the traditional letterboxing journal. Instead of just stamping in a logbook, keep a Smash book that includes photos & more.

Depending on how many boxes we find on a given outing, I typically make a 2 page spread for each place we go.  That usually gives me plenty of room to write about our adventures.  Sometimes I use a  colored Sharpie to write directly on the photo.  It works especially well if there is a lot of sky in the photo.

I will eventually decorate the cover of my letterboxing Smash Book, but I am probably going to wait until the book is full.  That way I can keep the plastic dust jacket on it to help protect it until I am finished.

Really, you don’t need a lot to get started making a letterboxing Smash Book.  All you really need is a journaling pen (which comes with the Smash Book), scissors, adhesive, and your stamped images.  You don’t need to purchase a lot of additional embellishments, although they can add a fun touch to your pages.  I have been using up a lot of the leftover bits in my stash to add color to the pages – stickers, die-cuts, etc.

Optional additional supplies that are helpful for making a Letterboxing Journal Smash Book:

  • Date Stamp – Great for adding the date that you found each letterbox
  • Washi Tape – Always great for adding a bit of decoration and adhering pictures to the pages.
  • Tombow Mono Adhesive – I use this for sticking down pockets as it is a stronger glue than what comes with your Smash Pen.
  • Arrow Punch – I like to add arrows to my pages to point to what I am talking about in my journaling
  • Sharpie Pens in assorted colors – great for journaling directly on the photos.  (Don’t journal directly on the page with these though as it will bleed through to the other side.)

I have had a lot of fun creating my letterboxing journal Smash Book.  I hope this post has given you some ideas for documenting your own outdoor treasure hunts.  So tell me… Do you keep a scrapbook for your letterboxing or geocaching adventures?

 

Blog Giveaway Roundup – May 22, 2015

Blog Giveaway Roundup

Welcome to our weekly giveaway roundup! Every Friday, we offer you the chance to share your giveaways. If you love to enter giveaways, be sure to browse the selection below.

Blog Giveaway Roundup

Good luck! If you’ve had any blog giveaway wins this last week, feel free to let everyone know about them by leaving a comment below.

Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie Recipe

Featuring a sweet-tart custard filling and a fluffy meringue topping, this Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie recipe will quickly become a family favorite.

I just love this time of year! I go out to the garden nearly every day to check the progress of all the little plants poking their heads up after a long winter’s slumber beneath a blanket of shredded leaves.

Take a look at the effect just one week of temperatures in the 80’s had on my rhubarb. Harvesting the rhubarb bounty turns my thoughts to one of my favorite desserts – Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie.  Yum!

This Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie recipe comes from my mother-in-law.  It features a sweet and tart custard filling topped with a heap of fluffy meringue.  It is just scrumptious with vanilla bean ice cream.  I made it last night for dessert and even my 2 picky daughters, who have never previously tried rhubarb, discovered that they loved it.  I have a feeling I am going to be making this pie a lot this summer :)

Featuring a sweet-tart custard filling and a fluffy meringue topping, this Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie recipe will quickly become a family favorite.

Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie

  • 4 eggs, yolk and whites separated
  • 3 cups sugar, divided
  • a 9 or 10” baked pie crust, prepared according to directions (or if you are really ambitious,  make your own)
  • 4 cups cut rhubarb
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered (you can use frozen)
  • 6 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add 1 cup sugar gradually; continue beating until stiff.  Set aside.

In a large pot, combine rhubarb, strawberries, the remaining 2 cups sugar, and the butter.  Cook over medium heat until fruit has broken down into a sauce.

To the rhubarb sauce –add the egg yolks, remaining sugar, cornstarch, and evaporated milk. Cook until the consistency of pudding. Pour into baked pie shell. Cover with meringue, bake at 425 degrees until light brown, about 15 minutes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to allow the custard to thicken.

Note:  If you are using frozen rhubarb and strawberries, allow them to thaw in a colander in the fridge so the excess juices drain away before using them in this recipe.

If you don’t have any strawberries on hand, this recipe is equally good with just the rhubarb.

If  you make this strawberry rhubarb meringue pie recipe, you will have to tell me how you like it.  So tell me… What is your favorite rhubarb recipe?  Do you grow rhubarb in your garden?

Celebrate National BBQ Month with Stubbs

Who doesn't live sliders?  This Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers recipe is packed with flavor.  It will transport you to some place tropical!

May is National BBQ Month.  It’s time to break out the grill and move the cooking outdoors.  Now that the weather has finally warmed up (fingers crossed it stays that way), my mouth is watering at the thought of all the burgers, hot dogs, chicken breast, and ribs we are are going to make on the grill this summer.  Yum-O!

In honor of National BBQ month I thought I would share a recipe with you for Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers.  Who doesn’t love sliders?  They are so cute and delicious!  Even my picky kids, who normally avoid beef like the plague, can be talked into eating a burger when it comes in miniature form.  These Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers are absolutely packed with flavor.  The pineapple and Stubb’s BBQ sauce really jazz it up.

Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers Recipe

Ingredients:

Burger:

  • 1 pound ground beef (95% lean)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 canned pineapple slices
  • 12 Hawaiian sweet or small whole wheat dinner rolls, split
  • Lettuce

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup Stubb’s Sticky Sweet Barbeque Sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple preserves
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

Cooking Instructions:

  • Combine ground beef and Worcestershire sauce in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly.
  • Shape into twelve 1/2-inch thick mini patties. Set aside.
  • Combine sauce ingredients in small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  • Place pineapple slices on grill (or on rack in broiler pan if cooking inside); brush with sauce. If cooking in the oven, place pan in oven so surface of pineapple is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil or grill 4 minutes, turning once and brushing with sauce. Remove pineapple, keep warm.
  • Place patties on grill or on rack in broiler pan so surface of beef is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Grill or Broil 7 to 8 minutes for medium (160°F) doneness, until beef is not pink in center and juices show no pink color, turning once and brushing burgers with remaining sauce after turning.
  • Cut each pineapple slice into thirds. Line bottom of each roll with lettuce, top with burger, then with pineapple piece. Close sandwiches.

Makes 4 servings.

This recipe uses Stubb’s BBQ sauce, which is one of my favorites.  I love that none of their sauces, rub, or marinades contain any high fructose corn syrup.  In addition, the company is also working with the Non-GMO Project to verify its line.  For those of you who can’t have gluten, Stubb’s is the only sauce brand to carry the Gluten-Free Organization Certification seal.

I don’t know about you, but now my mouth is watering for BBQ.  I might have to fire up the grill tonight, grab a bottle of Stubb’s and get cooking.  So tell me…  Have you made any BBQ this year yet? 

Enter to win 4 Stubb's BBQ Sauces, Rubs, or Marinades.  The giveaway is open to US residents and ends May 29, 2015.

In honor of National BBQ month, Stubb’s would like to bless one A Heart Full of Love with some of their yummy sauces, rubs, and marinades.  The lucky winner will receive 4 free product coupons that are good for any Stubb’s products.  Entry is easy through the Rafflecopter form below.  The giveaway is open to US residents only.  You have until 11:59 pm EST on May 29, 2015 to get your entries submitted.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I will be receiving free product coupons for sharing this recipe.

 

Our New Teardrop Trailer

A tour of our new #teardroptrailer camper featuring a sleeping area with queen size bed and a cooking area on back.

After years of dreaming about owning one, I am so happy to finally be able to say that we are now the proud owners of a teardrop trailer. Our family has always loved camping. However, since 2009, when I messed up my back, we haven’t been able to go camping very much. Sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag was out of the question. We tried putting a cot in the tent for me, but it took up so much room and still resulted in an awful night’s sleep. So after much discussion, we finally took the plunge and purchased a retro-looking teardrop trailer from Riverside RV.

We named our new teardrop trailer Nadia.   When we were discussing names, my husband thought it would be hilarious to call her “Not a Tent”, which I promptly vetoed.  So he decided to give it a foreign flair and suggested calling her “Nadia Tentsky”.  Somehow the name Nadia stuck :)

If you aren’t familiar with teardrop trailers,  they are tiny campers that were first made popular in the 30’s and 40’s.  Back then they were nearly all homemade.  A lot of people nowadays still make their own, and we definitely considered that route.  Ultimately though, the worry about getting the trailer watertight and setting up the electrical wiring correctly scared us off.  So we opted to purchase one from a dealer.

Most teardrop trailers, ours included, are under 1000 pounds so they are light enough to be pulled by nearly any vehicle.  We had a trailer hitch installed on our minivan and have been towing the teardrop trailer with no problems.

Teardrop trailers consist of a sleeping area and a galley (the kitchen area).  The galley lid opens upward which allows you access to the kitchen for cooking.  Our teardrop has 30 amp electrical or it can also run on battery – which will be nice for when we are camping in more primitive locations.

A tour of our new #teardroptrailer camper featuring a sleeping area with queen size bed and a cooking area on back.

The sleeping area consists of a queen-sized mattress and 4 overhead cabinets. There is an overhead light and then additional reading lights mounted under the cabinets.  We were happy to discover there is an electrical outlet in the sleeping area.  I found some Rubbermaid car organizers that our phones will fit into and hung 2 of those near the outlet using Command adhesive hooks.  So that way we have somewhere to charge our cell phones overnight.

The sleeping area also has an air conditioner.  Given that there isn’t a lot of air flow in the sleeping area with the curtains down for privacy, we will probably use the fan setting just to keep the air circulating.  I can not sleep when it is stuffy!

The mattress that came with our teardrop trailer is pretty thin – think summer camp mattress thin!  Given my back issues, we knew we needed to do something to make it more comfortable.  So we bought a 3 inch memory foam mattress topper.  We figured we would give that a try and see if that would be enough, and if not we could always buy a regular mattress for the trailer.  The memory foam topper worked out really well.  I don’t think we are going to have to buy another mattress after all.

I want to go with a Route 66 theme for our sleeping area.  I found some really cute Route 66 fabric at a local store.  So eventually I want to use that fabric to make matching curtains, pillow cases, and a quilt for our trailer.

A tour of our new #teardroptrailer camper featuring a sleeping area with queen size bed and a cooking area on back.

The galley doesn’t have a whole lot of storage currently, but we have plans to remedy that.  Right now it just has a double cabinet.  I already added some Command adhesive hooks to the sides to hang pot holders.  (Command adhesive is my new best friend!)  We will be doing more customizing as we go along.  The walls seem to be fairly thin, so we don’t want to screw anything into the walls and risk the screw going through into the wall in our sleeping area.  So we are trying to figure out the best way to hang some things like a spice rack and paper towel holder.

Although I would have loved a bigger cooking area, I do like the storage area at the bottom of the trailer.  You access it via the door under the galley and it runs the whole length of the trailer.  It is really nice for storing the spare tire, the emergency tool kit, camp chairs, and lawn games.

A tour of our new #teardroptrailer camper featuring a sleeping area with queen size bed and a cooking area on back.
I found the perfect vinyl decal on Etsy to go on the back of the galley lid.  It is a compass with the quote “Not all who wander are lost.”  I have always loved that quote.   We plan on doing a lot of wandering with our new teardrop trailer :)

A tour of our new #teardroptrailer camper featuring a sleeping area with queen size bed and a cooking area on back.

We were able to take Nadia out for her inaugural campout over Mother’s Day.  We went up to Kelley’s Island (Lake Erie) to do some letterboxing.  We set up the family tent right next to the trailer for the kids.  We got an EZ Up shelter to put over the galley, so we could still cook even if it rained.  It’s a good thing we did as it rained cats and dogs the second night we were there.

We had a great time.  I have missed camping so much.  I am so glad we decided to take the plunge and get a teardrop trailer. I foresee a lot of fun trips in our future!

So tell me… Have you ever heard of teardrop trailers?  Does your family enjoy camping?

 

 

 

Red Robin Makes Dining Out With Food Allergies a Little Easier

Food Allergies?  That's not a problem with Red Robin's Interactive Allergin Menu.
It seems like everyday, I meet another family who is dealing with food allergies.  I myself am dairy intolerant and I have a daughter who can’t eat gluten.  Planning a menu for our family is challenging, and eating out can be downright impossible.  Before we go to a restaurant, we have to find the menu online to see what we can have and what we should avoid.  However, not all online menus include ingredient lists.  In that case we have to hope that our waiter is knowledgeable enough about the menu options to help us decide what is safe to eat.

Fortunately our food sensitivities aren’t life threatening, so if we are served gluten or dairy, we will just be uncomfortable the next day.  For many people this is not the case though and exposure to certain foods can cause a severe reaction and can even be life-threatening.

Despite the growing number of people affected, our family has discovered that most restaurants don’t deal well with food allergies and sensitivities.  So I was thrilled to learn that Red Robin restaurant acknowledges that food allergies can be difficult for families and has come up with a way to help.

Red Robin has a couple of great tools to help families with food allergies know what is safe to eat – their Interactive Allergen Menu online and their Red Robin Customizer App.

Since we knew in advance that we would be eating at Red Robin, I chose to decide in advance what I would order via their website.  I was happy to discover that Red Robin’s Interactive Allergen Menu was so simple to use.  It literally just took me a couple of minutes to find what menu items were acceptable.

You can find the Interactive Allergen menu by going to RedRobin.com and hovering over “Our Food”.  Click on the Customizer Hub and then choose the Build a Customized Allergen Menu option.

Food Allergies?  That's not a problem with Red Robin's Interactive Allergin Menu.

You start by checking off any ingredients you want to avoid.  Since I get nasty sinus headaches anytime I have milk products, I checked the dairy box.  They also have the option to search the menu for items that don’t include gluten, eggs, seafood,nuts, and soy.

Food Allergies?  That's not a problem with Red Robin's Interactive Allergin Menu.

You can then search by menu category to discover which foods are suitable for your food allergy or sensitivity.  The Interactive Allergen Menu will tell you which menu items are ok as-is and also tells you which menu items are ok with modifications.  For example:  I browsed the salad menus and discovered that if I want to avoid all dairy products, I can have any of the salads, but I need to request that they be made with no cheese or croutons.

Food Allergies?  That's not a problem with Red Robin's Interactive Allergin Menu.

If there are substitutions possible, the Interactive Allergen Menu will alert you to that as well.  If you click on the menu item, it will bring up a list of ingredients.  If there are any suitable substitutions, it will have a “Click for Acceptable Options” button next to it.  Like in the case of the crispy chicken salad, there is dairy in the breading.  So the interactive menu suggests that you ask for the salad to be made with grilled chicken instead of the breaded chicken.  In my case, I knew I wouldn’t have an issue with the small amount of dairy in the breading, so I wouldn’t need to make that substitution.  However, it’s very nice to have that information should my milk intolerance worsen.

Armed with the information gathered from the Interactive Allergen Menu, I arrived at Red Robin knowing exactly what I was going to order.  My mouth was already watering at the thought of a yummy Crispy Chicken Salad (minus the cheese) and a Freckled Fruit Salad on the side.  I had neglected to look up which of the salad dressings didn’t contain dairy, but that didn’t turn out to be a problem.  My waiter was happy to go to the kitchen and confirm that their Italian dressing didn’t have any milk in it.

Food Allergies?  That's not a problem with Red Robin's Interactive Allergin Menu.

We had no problem making special requests when ordering our food. Red Robin trains all their staff to deal with food allergies and sensitivities, so they are more than happy to accommodate special requests. In the grand scheme of things, my dairy sensitivity is pretty mild, so other than leaving some ingredients off, my food doesn’t require any special treatment in the kitchen.

I ordered my salad with no cheese and no bacon (a matter of preference).  Our food arrived quickly and as we requested.  Since the waiter knew a food intolerance was involved, he even came back after we started eating to verify that everything was ok with my salad.

If you have more serious food allergies than I do, Red Robin team members are trained to handle that as well. They have several precautions in place to ensure that the kitchen staff is aware of food allergies. The cooks use special allergen kits that are used on allergen orders only to avoid your food being contaminated with anything that would cause a reaction. Unlike other restaurants, Red Robin takes food allergies very seriously and wants to make sure you have a pleasant dining experience.

In this day and age where food allergies are affecting more and more families, it is nice that Red Robin has made it simple to find acceptable menu choices.  If you or a member of your family are dealing with food allergies, I encourage you to give Red Robin’s Interactive Allergen Menu a try.  Food allergies are a hassle to be sure, so it is nice that Red Robin is trying to make things a little easier for those of us who have to deal with them on a daily basis.

Enter to win a $25 Red Robin Gift Card. The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends May 24, 2015.

Did you know that May is National Allergy Awareness Month? I didn’t, but it is nice to know that a movement is underway to help raise awareness and understanding for the problems people with food allergies face on a daily basis. In honor of National Allergy Awareness Month, Red Robin would like to bless one A Heart Full of Love reader with a $25 Red Robin Gift Card.  The giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older (No PO Boxes).  Entry is easy through the Rafflecopter form below.  The giveaway expires at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday May 24th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I received a Red Robin Gift Card to give their Interactive Allergen Menu a try.  All opinions stated are my own.  The prize for the winner will be provided by the sponsor.  A Heart Full of Love is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Visit the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park

Learn more about visiting the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, KY.  Admission is free and it's a great place to take the kids.

The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, Kentucky, is a great place for the whole family to visit. This historic site features a visitor’s center with numerous Lincoln exhibits, a 19th century cabin, a Memorial, and over a mile of hiking trails through the land that the Lincoln family once owned. The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace was established as a National Park in July of 1916.

Learn more about visiting the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, KY.  Admission is free and it's a great place to take the kids.

We love to take our kids to historical sites whenever we get the chance. Our children are school-aged so seeing the places where history unfolded helps reinforce what they are learning in school. We were fortunate to be able to visit the Lincoln Birthplace right around the time when our son was learning about the Civil War in school.

Plan on a couple of hours for your visit. To make a day of it, bring a picnic lunch and afterwards you can hike some of the trails. There are the three main sites of interest at the 116 acre Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, Kentucky:

  • Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Visitor Center
  • Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Memorial Building
  • Sinking Spring

Learn more about visiting the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, KY.  Admission is free and it's a great place to take the kids.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Visitor Center

The Visitor’s Center is a great place to start your visit to the Lincoln Birthplace. There you can pick up a park map and talk with a park ranger. In addition, you can watch a 15 minute film on Lincoln’s early years in Kentucky.

There are several exhibits at the Visitor’s Center as well. You can learn about Abraham Lincoln’s geneology and see the Lincoln Family Bible. They also have a wonderful exhibit that teaches about what life was like for a pioneer around the time of Lincoln’s birth.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Memorial Building

There are 56 granite steps leading up to the Memorial Building, one for each year of Lincoln’s life. Dedicated in 1911, the Memorial Building was designed by John Russell Pope in the neo-classical style. Throughout the architecture of the building, you will find several groups of 16, honoring the fact that Lincoln was our 16th president. For example, there are 16 rosettes in the ceiling and 16 windows in the building.

Learn more about visiting the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, KY.  Admission is free and it's a great place to take the kids.

On the exterior face of the Memorial Building is carved this quote

Here

Over the log cabin where Lincoln was born

Destined to preserve the Union and to free the slave

A grateful people have dedicated this memorial

to unity, peace, and brotherhood among the states.

With malice toward none, with charity for all.

Learn more about visiting the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, KY.  Admission is free and it's a great place to take the kids.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Symbolic Cabin

It is believed that the original cabin where Lincoln was born was torn down some time prior to his death in 1865. Although the actual cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born is long gone, the park services constructed the Symbolic Cabin on the site of the original one. The symbolic cabin is housed within the Memorial Building. You can walk around all sides of the 1 room cabin, but a chain barrier permits you from entering.

Learn more about visiting the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, KY.  Admission is free and it's a great place to take the kids.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Sinking Spring

The Sinking Spring at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace was where the Lincoln family obtained their water. It was named as such because of the way the water fell into a pit and just disappeared into the earth. In fact the Lincoln Farm was known as Sinking Spring Farm because of this water source.

The Sinking Spring is located just down the hill from the Memorial Building. You will find the path to the springs not too far from the base of the steps to the memorial. There are signs posted to help you find it.

To preserve this historic site, the National Park Service asks that you don’t throw coins or trash into the springs.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park

If you don’t live near Hodgenville, Kentucky and are unable to visit, be sure to check out this video that takes you on a virtual tour of the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.

Other Things To Do At The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace

While the main attractions at the Lincoln Birthplace national park are the visitor’s center, and the symbolic cabin, there are plenty of other things to do as well.

  • Have a picnic. At the east side of the park, there are picnic tables so you can enjoy a meal in the fresh air. So be sure to pack a picnic basket for your visit to the Lincoln Birthplace.
  • Take a hike. There are 2 separate hiking trails to enjoy at the Lincoln Birthplace. The Boundary Oak Trail is just a third of a mile, forming a loop from the Visitor’s Center. It passes by the Sinking Spring, the Boundary Oak, and the Memorial Building. The second trail is the Big Sink Trail and it originates at the picnic area. It is a 1 mile loop.
  • Become an Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Jr. Ranger. Kids can ask for a Jr. Ranger booklet at the Visitor’s Center. Once they complete the booklet, they can return it to the park for a badge and a certificate.

Don’t forget to get your National Park Passport Stamps.

The US National Park system has a fun passport system. Each National Park has a date stamp and many people find it fun to collect them. You can buy an official passport for a nominal fee, or you can do like I do, and just stamp it your travel journal.

The Lincoln Birthplace National Park is Free to Visit. (However, if you are bringing a school or tour group, you might want to call ahead and let them know you are coming.) To learn more or to plan your visit, check out the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park website.

Learn more about visiting the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Hodgenville, KY.  Admission is free and it's a great place to take the kids.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of our 16th president, then you might want to check out the other Lincoln Memorial Sites around the country.

  • Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob CreekAbraham Lincoln lived in a cabin on Knob Creek between the ages of 2 and 8. The Lincoln Boyhood Home is also a part of the National Park Service and is about 10 miles from the Lincoln Birthplace.
  • Lincoln Boyhood National MemorialLocated just outside Lincoln City, Indiana, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial site features a visitor center, the memorial cabin, the Lincoln Spring, working historical farm, and a pioneer cemetery.
  • Abraham Lincoln Home in IllinoisThis historic site in Springfield Illinois was the home of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Visitors can tour the home which has been restored to look much as it did during Lincoln’s time.
  • Gettysburg National CemeteryLincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address at the cemetery’s dedication in November of 1863.
  • Ford’s Theatre National Historic SiteOn April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC. This historic theatre still offers performances. In addition, you can tour the theatre and learn more about the fateful evening when our country lsost one of th
  • Lincoln TombLocated in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, the Lincoln Tomb is the site of the burial of our 16th president, his wife, and three of their children.
  • Lincoln MemorialThis iconic memorial in Washington DC is a must-see if you are in the area. We had seen the memorial in pictures and in movies, but it was much more impressive in person. I highly recommend seeing it lit up at night too if you are able.

So tell me… Have you ever visited the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace with your family? What was your favorite part? If you enjoyed reading about our adventures, I encourage you to follow our Road Trip Board on Pinterest. Until Next Time – Keep Exploring!

Fun Outdoor Treasure Hunts for Families

Get your kids off their electronics! Here are 3 outdoor treasure hunts that will get your kids outside, exploring, and having fun.

If  your kids are anything like mine, they would happily spend all day either on the computer or with a video game controller in their hands.  So I am constantly looking for ways to get my kids to put away their electronics and go outside to have some fun.  One way our family does that is by participating in outdoor treasure hunts.

Back in 2006, I learned about geocaching and immediately bought a GPS.  I was shocked to learn that there were hundreds of geocaches to find in my hometown alone.  There was one literally within a 2 minute walk of my house!  I walked by it nearly everyday and never even knew it was there.

Get your kids off their electronics! Here are 3 outdoor treasure hunts that will get your kids outside, exploring, and having fun.

Since then we have discovered a few other outdoor treasure hunt games.  We spend nearly every weekend during the summer on the hunt.  My kids have walked countless miles and never complained once because they are having too much fun searching for the hidden containers.

Each game is slightly different, but they all involve searching for hidden containers, usually placed in parks or scenic areas.  There are probably quite a few of these hidden near where you live, so you most likely won’t have to travel far to give the game a try.   (Although if you get hooked like our family did, you may find yourself planning whole vacations around these treasure hunts!)  Here are the three most popular treasure hunting games here in the US:

Geocaching

Geocaching involves using GPS coordinates to find hidden caches.  The GPS will get you within 10-20 feet of the hidden cache and then you will  have to hunt for the hidden container.  Most hidden caches contain a log book for you to sign as well as small toys and trinkets for the kids to trade.

To get started, you will need either a GPS or the geocaching app for your smartphone.  I recommend starting with the smartphone app until you see if you will enjoy geocaching.  The app is only $10 which is a lot cheaper than buying a GPS unit.  Since we got the app on our phone, we rarely take our GPS with us anymore.  The only disadvantage is that the app can run down your phone battery quickly.

If you decide to purchase a GPS, I recommend the Geomate Jr. GPS unit.  It is less expensive than other models and comes pre-loaded with 250,000 geocaches covering all 50 states.  Although you can get more expensive GPS units, it really isn’t necessary if you are only using it for geocaching.

Get your kids off their electronics! Here are 3 outdoor treasure hunts that will get your kids outside, exploring, and having fun.

There are several sites that list the coordinates, but the biggest one by far is Geocaching.com.  As of today, there are over 2 million geocaches hidden worldwide and listed on this site.  To see the coordinates, you will need to register for a free account.

Letterboxing

Although geocaching is by far the most popular of the outdoor treasure hunts in this country, it is not the only one.  Letterboxing is rapidly gaining popularity.  Letterboxing originated in the UK in 1854, however it remained largely unknown in the US until Smithsonian Magazine published an article on it in 1998.  Following publication of this article,  letterboxes started showing up all over the US.

Letterboxing does not require any special equipment.  Instead you are going to be following clues to lead you to the hidden container.  Clues can be straightforward, or they might be in the form of a puzzle that you have to solve.

Get your kids off their electronics! Here are 3 outdoor treasure hunts that will get your kids outside, exploring, and having fun.

Letterboxes differ from geocaches in that there are no trade items.  The hidden letterboxes contain a logbook and a rubber stamp (usually hand-carved).   The finder will use this stamp to make an impression in their personal logbook as a keepsake of all the boxes they have found.   In addition, most letterboxes carry with them a signature stamp so they can stamp into the box logbook as a record that they were there.

There are lots of places to find clues, but the two most popular sites are AtlasQuest and Letterboxing North America.  I prefer AtlasQuest as it is more user-friendly and you can check out feedback from other finders to make sure the box hasn’t gone missing.

Munzee

Munzee is a relatively new treasure hunt game and requires a smartphone to play.  Basically you are searching for hidden QR codes.  Over a million have already been hidden worldwide.  When you find one, you scan it with the Munzee app and gain points.  We typically don’t go out searching for Munzees alone, but if there is one in the area of a letterbox or geocache, we typically find the Munzee too.

To get started finding Munzees in your area, visit Munzee.com to download their free app.

Regional Treasure Hunts

You may discover that your city or county parks have treasure hunts of their own.  One local park district has scavenger hunts in several of their parks.  You follow the clues on the signs to ultimately find the logbook to sign and a rubber stamp.  The first one we did was also giving out seed packets to kids as a prize for completing the hunt.

Get your kids off their electronics! Here are 3 outdoor treasure hunts that will get your kids outside, exploring, and having fun.

A few years ago, a local county park had a hunt called RambleQuest which took you on a search for plaques with raised images throughout all their parks.  When you found the plaques, you needed to take a rubbing of the image with a crayon or pencil.  If you collected them all, you earned a hiking stick medallion.

So be sure to check out your local park department website.  You just might discover a fun treasure hunt awaits!

Get your kids off their electronics! Here are 3 outdoor treasure hunts that will get your kids outside, exploring, and having fun.

I hope you are inspired to check out some of these outdoor treasure hunts with your own family this summer.  They are a great way to get some fresh air and some exercise.  In addition, they just might take you to some wonderful parks and places that you might have never known about otherwise.  So tell me… Have you ever participated in any of these treasure hunt games?  If you know of any others that I didn’t mention, be sure to leave a comment.  Until next time… Happy Exploring!

Hidden West Milton Cascades

Learn how to find the West Milton Cascades - a pretty waterfall hidden right in the heart of downtown West Milton, Ohio.
I love to visit waterfalls. There is something so peaceful and tranquil about the sound of water rushing over rocks. I thought I had visited all the waterfalls in our area until I learned about the hidden West Milton Cascades, just a short drive from Dayton, Ohio.

The West Milton Cascades have 2 main drops and then a series of cascades leading down to a little creek. The creek flows into a nearby cemetery and then eventually empties into the Stillwater River.

The West Milton Cascades are a bit hard to find if you are unfamiliar with the area. There are no signs leading to the falls. Unless you know it is there, it is quite easy to drive right by the parking area.

Learn how to find the West Milton Cascades - a pretty waterfall hidden right in the heart of downtown West Milton, Ohio.

Directions to the West Milton Cascades:

The waterfall is located at the northeast corner of state routes 571 and 48. There is a large white house at the corner which houses a furniture store to the side on the lower level. (This white house was formerly the West Milton Inn.)  The waterfall is located behind this building. There is a small unmarked parking lot off 571, just across from the West Milton Freemasons Lodge. From there it is just a short walk to the upper viewing area. You can also take stairs down to base of the falls.

Learn how to find the West Milton Cascades - a pretty waterfall hidden right in the heart of downtown West Milton, Ohio.

Things to consider when visiting the West Milton Cascades with kids:

There is a set of stone steps leading down to the base of the falls with an ancient looking handrail.  The steps may be slippery when wet or covered with leaves.  The cascades are pretty when frozen in the winter, but the icy steps might be too much for kids to navigate.

Learn how to find the West Milton Cascades - a pretty waterfall hidden right in the heart of downtown West Milton, Ohio.

Other Nearby Activities:

Other than viewing the falls, there isn’t anything else to do in the park. However there are a few other waterfalls in the area that you can visit on the same trip – namely Charleston Falls and Ludlow Falls – both of which I mentioned in my Exploring Frozen Waterfalls in Ohio post. Also, if your family enjoys outdoor treasure hunts, there are several geocaches in West Milton to grab while you are in the area.

So tell me…  Have you ever been the the West Milton Cascades?  Are there any waterfalls near you that you love to visit?