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Adventure a Week

Final Adventure Challenge! Stop Motion Festival

Well, it’s time for the final post of the Adventure-a-Week Challenge! It’s been such a fun project over the last several weeks. You can see a list of all the Adventure-a-Week posts here.
(If you’re reading this in an email or reader and can’t see the video above, just click here .. the video is where the substance of this week’s challenge is! Plus there’s some new stop motion video, as well as the announcement for what the next challenge will be, now that the adventure challenge is over!)

Below, is the set of Bingo printables – I’ve created 6 Bingo sheets, all from our same festival alphabet finds, but scrambled into a different order for each sheet. Hand one out to each family member and start looking for the finds! Just like any Bingo – who ever crosses off five in a row first, yells “Bingo!” and wins. :) All of the items just need to be spotted/found, not necessarily purchased. Most of the letters should be self-explanatory as shown in the video … but on “N”, new food just means anything you have never tried before. In my case, it was a deep fried Snickers. Om nom nom!
Just click the image below to access the free Festival Alphabet Bingo printables:

Thanks to Mike Mills (from the Knox Historical Museum who was giving free local history tours at the festival) and B Edward Pope (from bpopewoodturning who gave us lots of interesting information about his work) for both kindly letting me take your photos for our project! And thanks to Kevin MacLeod for the music.

Don’t forget about the upcoming new challenge as announced at the end of the video, and be sure to subscribe so you’ll be the first to know when the new challenge posts begin! :)
So what do you always look for at fairs and festivals?
Leave your thoughts and comments below, we love to hear from you!

Adventure Challenge: Week 8! Go Geocaching

Have you ever gone geocaching? It is the perfect activity for week 8 of our adventure-a-week challenge! Once you have a GPS, it is something you can do for free, and is a great way to explore a new area – or even to see a familiar area is a whole new light. As it is described on their website,, it is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.

The fun is in the hunt – to find these hidden caches, more than what is inside them. They can range in size from micro caches in tiny capsules only a couple inches wide with barely enough room for just a sign-in sheet, to regular sized caches often in an ammo-box or other waterproof container which often have little trinkets of small value which you can trade out in addition to the sign-in sheet, to “virtual” caches which are not a typical cache with a log-in sheet, but just takes you to an area where there is an interesting sight to see and find. My personal favorite are micro caches- I think they are the most challenging to find! Often, in addition to the coordinates given for the GPS there are clever clues to help you narrow down your search to a more selected area.

To start, you sign up and download the waypoints from, and input them into your GPS to get you to the area where the cache is hidden. Once there, you start hunting. But with a somewhat clandestine air- you have to be aware of “muggles”! The definition of muggles on the website makes me laugh: “Muggle: A non-geocacher. Based on “Muggle” from the Harry Potter series, which is a non-magical person. Usually this term is used after a non geocacher looks puzzled after befriending a geocacher searching for a cache, or when a non-geocacher accidentally finds a cache. Geomuggles are mostly harmless.” If you call too much attention to a cache, non-geocachers who saw you might move it or take it after you leave, not realizing what it is. So be sneaky! ;)

After you have found the caches and logged into the sheets and had your fun exploring, when you get back home you log your finds on the geocaching website. Geocaching is something we enjoy doing occasionaly – but it had been a pretty long time since we had gone geocaching, so this week it was fun to get out and try it again! Here was our adventure, there were very few “muggles” around where we were geocaching, so I was able to take pictures without too much trouble:

I don’t usually bother trading items in the larger caches – anytime I’ve seen someone give Geocaching a try thinking that the trading is the main thing, they’re usually disappointed …the fun is really in the finding! A lot of times the clues/names and such are very clever, too. But I did decide to leave one of my mini-art prints in one of the caches, as you see above. :) We had a great time, and one of the fun things about geocaching is it takes you to new places and helps you find interesting areas. We certainly made some new discoveries!

If you haven’t gone geocaching, you should give it a try! Here are a few more geocaching terms that might be helpful to know:

BYOP: Bring your own pen. This means the cache is too small to hold a pen along with the sign-in sheet, so you must bring your own to be able to log your visit.

Multi cache: This is where a single cache hunt is made up of a series of individual caches, in a series. It is usually on some theme, and you may need to find the caches in a certain order to get all the information needed to find the later caches.

Travel Bug: You might find a travel bug in a cache. This is a token of some sort with a tracking number, and hitchhikes from person to person and cache to cache, with its progress tracked online.

CITO/Cache in, trash out: This is a common practice that as you geocache and log into caches you find, that if you find litter in the area you are hunting, you take the time to collect it and throw it away. So do some good while you are out having fun!

Have you ever gone geocaching? Does it interest you?
Leave you thoughts and comments below!

Adventure Challenge: Week 7! DIY Art Rubbings

This week, for our Adventure-a-Week challenge, our adventure doubles as a craft project as well. I was in a used book store one time and saw a book on “rubbings” and it captured my attention, and we gave it a try for this week’s adventure. So grab your art supplies and head outside!

For this week’s activity you will need…

– Paper. And plenty of it. I found that I like using very thin paper, personally. I bought a cheap sketchpad and I really liked the texture and thinness of the paper for this project.

– Rubbing Materials. There are all sorts of rubbing materials you could use! Take a bunch with you and try them out to see what you prefer. Graphite, colored pencils, pastels, chalks, wax, you name it! Although I didn’t expect it, I ended up preferring crayons for larger pieces. Colored pencils were nice for more detailed/smaller items.

– A Kneeling Pad. If you’re going to be crouching on sidewalks and streets making your rubbings, it’s a little more comfortable if you have something under your knees.

– A Folder. Or something to put your finished rubbings in to prevent them from getting bent up and wrinkled.

– Masking Tape. You need for your paper to lay very still while making a rubbing, and I found masking tape to work very well. It’s especially helpful for working on vertical surfaces, of course, but even on a flat horizontal surface, it is a good idea. Be aware, though, that depending on the kind of paper you are using, the area with the masking tape may need to be trimmed away. This is usually fine because of the nature of rubbings, often the edges are not the most attractive part, anyway, and can be cut away.

– A Tote. Or something similar to carry all these supplies!

You could do a variety of themes out of rubbings – such as, a nature theme where you make rubbings of leaves and feathers and other natural objects. But I wanted to do a more urban/industrial theme. Of course, this works best if you live in a fairly urban area … which I do not. However, even so we were able to find some interesting subjects for rubbings. Try man hole covers, engraved signs, and plaques for more definite rubbings, or try brick walls, metal plates and concrete for more textural subjects. Be aware, though, that you need to know what you are allowed to make rubbings of – it is illegal some places to make rubbings of gravestones, and, of course, you shouldn’t wander onto private property to make rubbings. Still, it is an interesting way to wander around a town, looking for interesting spots to make into rubbings – you notice all sorts of things you wouldn’t have seen before.

You can even make a collection of small rubbings all from different aspects of one particular subject. It might be fun to make rubbings this way, put them together and see how quickly people can figure out what it was. I’m sure you can easily tell what this was!

A few tips on making rubbings…

Don’t use a sharp point of whatever art medium you are using, but rather use a blunt point or use it on an extreme angle.

Start out marking lightly – if you press too hard, you’ll just be drawing on top of the surface, not really picking up the texture. But if you start lightly and gradually get to darker/harder strokes, you’ll get a better feel for what works well.

While making the rubbing, try to keep your hand moving in the same plane. In other words, if you’re rubbing right to left, don’t suddenly switch to up and down, or you’ll probably end up with some unattractive competing lines.

This is probably an activity better for adults or older children … small children can have fun just drawing on their pages, but probably will have trouble gently pulling the textures into relief on the page.

Go exploring and think outside the box on what you can make into rubbings!

I hope you enjoy it!
Have you ever made rubbings at home, for instance of pennies and household items?
What about heading out and about to look for more unusual items to turn into rubbings?
Leave your thoughts and comments below!

Adventure Challenge: Week 6! Photography Hunt

Time for week six of the adventure-a-week challenge! This time was a little different because there wasn’t just one set aside time for the adventure, but instead it was spread out over several days. The goal? Find and photograph all the colors of the rainbow in springtime plants for this Spring photography challenge!

Right now is a perfect time around here for this – all the flowers are blooming and the weather is just lovely. I actually had been planning on something different for this week, but when I saw all the colors popping up and blooming, I knew we had to try to find them all. And it was more challenging than I expected! Blue and orange can be a little trickier to find. Part of the time we just kept our eyes open everywhere we went for the colors – and part of the time we went for walks and drives specifically looking for them. And always with a camera on hand! It was a fun hunt! And makes for a great photography subject, of course. Here is our spectrum, and then below it are a a few ideas and photography tips:

If you want to add another dimension to the project here are a few ideas, whether you want to do it on your own, or with kids…

To make this more challenging, you can set limits on where you can find the colors. For instance, you could try to find all of them within a set area, like along one road, or in an urban setting where they might be harder to find. Or, you could set limits in a different way – for instance, you could set botanical gardens off limits, or try to only find flowers that are growing in the wild. Any limits like this can make the project more challenging!

— If you have small children who don’t know their colors yet, this can be a fun way to teach colors! Or, if you’re like me, and your kids are old enough to know their colors, they can have a lot of fun helping you hunt for them.

— Or, this can be a fun project to just take off on your own and get to know your camera better! Some of my shots I was more pleased with then others, so I am still learning, but here are a few photography tips that might help:

Natural light is the best lighting for photography – but direct sunlight is not. Bright and direct sunlight causes harsh shadows and reflective whites. An overcast day can be perfect for getting great shots – or if you’re shooting something small like a flower, try standing so that your shadow falls over the plant. That way there is plenty of natural light, but not direct sunlight on your subject.

— If you have a point and shoot, try using your macro setting – it is usually shown with a flower icon. I use a DSLR camera, but I don’t have a macro lens yet, so my pictures are shot from farther away, and then cropped down to just the flower. Not optimal. It would be better to shoot closer to the subject.

— Whether you shoot an up close shot or you crop it afterwards (or both) try to have most of the final version taken up by the color you’re photographing. That way when you put all the photos together, it will make a more clear “rainbow” of colors.

I hope this inspires you to go outside and enjoy the beauty of spring! To see all the rest of the posts in this adventure a week challenge, you can click here.

And I’ve got an exciting announcement since this adventure challenge is almost over, about what the next challenge will be! I’ll be sharing that on Monday, so be sure to come back for that. :) If you’d like to stay in touch for future posts, be sure to subscribe to my blog!

Post you thoughts in the comments below, I love to hear from you! :)

Adventure Challenge: Daddy + Daughter Time

Wow, I can’t believe we’re already more than half way done with the adventure challenge! There are only a few weeks left – it’s really been flying by quickly! But we’ve definitely been loving it. Soon it will be time to start dreaming up a new challenge … but that’s another post. Stay tuned! :)

Anyway, not to get ahead of myself, I still have four adventure posts, including this one! Actually, though, I had this week off for the adventure. Because this week was a Daddy-Daughter adventure! Little one absolutely loves her special times with Daddy, and was super excited about this one. The time that kids spend with their fathers is so important, and so Tim and I wanted to share several ideas for Daddy-Daughter adventures – the last two being what Tim and little one did for this week’s adventure.

All of these are fitting for the adventure guidelines from the first post of this series – including the one about costing less than $15. Many of these don’t have to be exclusive for daughters, they could also be for sons as well. Since we have only a girl right now, we think in terms of Daddy-Daughter time, but by no means wish to exclude the little boys! Little boys learn from their fathers what kind of man they should grow up to be, and little girls learn from their father what kind of man they should marry. Both very important. :)

Here is a list of 10 ideas that Tim and I came up with for Daddy + daughter adventures, I hope it gets spurs your mind to think of your own ideas, too!

10 – Share some special memories from your own childhood! If you live in the same area you grew up in, take a drive (windows down, music loud – that was a prerequisite of special drives with my dad!) and drive by your childhood home, where you went to school, where you learned to drive, etc. If you don’t live in the same area, visit the library and check out your favorite books from when you were a kid, go to the grocery store and buy that treat you loved when you were little, go to the park and play your favorite childhood games. Tell her about what it was like growing up, things you liked, things you learned, things you dreamed, and watch her enjoy them as well.

9 – Go to an event from the community calendar! Check to see where your community’s calendar of events might be. It could be on your town’s website, maybe at the library, maybe in the newspaper, etc. These calendars have lots of info about upcoming concerts, local farmers markets, events at pick-your-own farms, jam-nights at the bluegrass parlor, museum events, local productions of plays etc. etc. Generally this can be a gold-mine for interesting activities to do together, and highlight interesting things in your own community.

8 – Teach her some of your car skills! There are lots of practical things girls should learn from their daddies on how to handle themselves in emergencies, like how to change a tire, jumping the car battery, and driving in the snow. Yes, it’s work – and yes, it’s fun! I remember loving it when Dad would show me stuff about how to fix something on the car, not because I was particularly interested in cars, but because it was fun to spend time together and it made me feel much more confident to have that knowledge and the fact that he wanted to share it with me.

7 – Go on a date! Put on a tie, let her wear her favorite dress, and take her out. Show her how a gentleman behaves – open the doors for her, the whole shebang. Teach her to expect to be treated with respect by men, and in turn to be encouraged to behave like a lady. You don’t have to go somewhere formal or spend a lot of money, you could go to the ice cream parlor, but it will feel special to her to spend time with you on a Daddy-daughter date.

6 – Find somewhere to volunteer together! Many wonderful bonding moments come not from just doing something for entertainment, but from working together. And working together for a good cause will teach her the satisfaction of spending time in a valuable way. Seek out a volunteer opportunity in your area, and make a Daddy-daughter adventure out of it!

5 – Take your daughter to work! Whether on an actual take-your-child-to-work day, or not, taking your kid to work can give them a great look into what you do. Let them see the good that you do, how you work hard – so they understand it’s not just that you disappear for hours and come home with a paycheck. She may or may not be interested in pursuing your field as an adult, but it will still be good for her to see you at work. Or, if your work environment isn’t suitable to bring a child along while you’re working, have her come on your lunch break to eat together and give a little tour.

4 – Share your hobby! If Daddy likes to play the guitar, do gardening, or work on cars, or make carvings, or shoot targets, or has some other hobby, why not spend some time sharing that? It’s good for daughters to see their Daddies’ talents – plus it’s fun as the daughter to learn something new! My dad got me involved in his antique business, which was a lot of fun to do together, going to auctions to hunt down new finds, learning from him on how to figure out the date of an item, setting up what we found in the antique booth, etc. But it doesn’t even have to be such a long-term project. Spend an afternoon sharing something you enjoy with your daughter! This is my dad showing me how to shoot a rifle:

3 – Take a hike! Learning how to climb trees, how to figure out which way is north, recognizing and avoiding poison ivy … little girls need to learn these things too! State or national parks often have beautiful hiking trails, so head for the woods, enjoy being in nature, and have some Daddy-daughter time teaching her about the outdoors. Daddies are good at the whole rugged-manliness thing, and it is good for daughters to see that. :)

2 – Go out for breakfast! This is one I remember doing with my dad, and I always loved it. It’s an exciting way to start off the day, and since (at least in our family), breakfast is not usually a meal we would eat-out, that also gives it an added layer of “special”. Plus, breakfast is generally a pretty cheap meal, and it’s easy to have some one-on-one time over biscuits and gravy (that’s what I always got on daddy-daughter breakfasts!) without breaking your budget. It was always a lot of fun for me to go out for breakfast with my Dad. And when Tim called me on his adventure with little one to say they were going out for breakfast, it made me happy to hear. :)

1 – Build something together! Tim and little one’s adventure was centered around this one. If you live near a Lowe’s you should definitely check out their free “Build and Grow” kid’s workshops. Every other Saturday you can take in your kids to build a wooden project. And it’s free! I mean, really, spending one-on-one time together, building something fun that you can take home, and not spending money? That’s hard to beat! You can check out the Build and Grow schedule here. Or, if there’s not a Lowe’s near you, just build something together in your backyard! Supplies for a simple project don’t have to cost very much. Tim was talking recently about building a marble machine out of PVC pipes. Working on a Daddy-daughter project is not only fun, but there are plenty of things for the little ones to learn in the process.

Tim and little one had a great time. :)
I hope this can inspire you to think of ideas of your own!
Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below, I love to hear from you!

Adventure Challenge: Week 4! Go Stargazing

This week’s adventure for our adventure-a-week challenge has been one of my favorites so far: stargazing! For one thing, since it wasn’t a weekday adventure, our whole family was able to do this one together. For another thing – I just love stargazing! Generally the night skies are most interesting in the earliest months of the year, and with these warm days right now, it makes for some pretty optimal gazing-at-stars-time. So gather some blankets and my illustrated printable and get ready to go stargazing!

We chose the particular night we did for star gazing because it was peak time for a meteor shower. Of course, that is not necessary for stargazing, but it can certainly add interest. There are a few things to take into account in preparation for a stargazing adventure, with regards to the place and time. You need to choose a place that will have limited light pollution, away from city lights, and with an unobstructed view of the sky. You need a time when the skies will be clear and not overcast, preferably not at a full moon as it will compete with the brightness of the stars, and you might want to consult a calendar of meteor showers. And here are a few things you might want to take with you…

1 – Blankets. Enough to spread out for everyone so can lay back and have a good view of the sky!

2 – My constellation printable. This can make a fun activity to let the kids do, to find some of the constellations. Or, ok, let’s be honest – I like finding them, too! These constellations are seen in the winter/early spring sky.

3 – Flashlight and pen. To see and to check off the constellation list. :)

4 – Snacks! If you’re somewhere where you can have a camp fire, s’mores can be a nice touch to your night outing. So classic, so delicious. :) If you’re like me, though, sometimes its difficult to get a chuck of chocolate to actually melt in your s’mores. So here’s a simple and delicious remedy for that – use Nutella instead! :) If you make a fire, though, you’ll want to douse the fire while you’re actually stargazing so the light won’t interfere with your view.

5 – Something hot to drink. Especially if you go stargazing during the colder months. Hot cocoa, hot tea, hot coffee … something to keep you warm and cozy!

Top s’more – regular Hershey’s bar. Bottom s’more – made with Nutella. Both delicious!

A couple other ideas … if it’s in the months where bugs are a problem, bug spray might be a good idea. And if you have a DSLR camera, shooting stars can be a fun project. I had a fun time taking night sky photographs on our adventure, like this one:

I am just a beginner at star photography, but here is what I have learned so far:

– Set your camera to BULB, which will allow the shutter to stay open as long as you hold down the shutter release. The longer you leave the shutter open, the more stars’ light will be captured.

– You NEED a tripod. I don’t generally use a tripod for my typical photography – if I really need to steady my camera I hold it against something stable, like a table. But to take pictures of the stars you have to have the shutter open so long that even the tiniest shift will mess up the picture. I set my camera on the flat railing of our porch, facing up toward the sky, but even so pretty much all of the pictures are at least somewhat blurry. A tripod would have been a much better route.

– Light pollution make a big difference, especially if you are including anything else in your photos, such as tree tops. The darker area you can be in, the better.

– Star trails are something I would like to capture in a future photograph. If you point your camera at the north star, which doesn’t “move” much in the night sky, the stars will appear to circle around it in your photo, as the earth spins. For this, though, you will have to have the shutter open for much longer, obviously, and considering my photos very often blurry after only a minute or two being open since I didn’t have a tripod, I knew there was no point to trying close to an hour. So, again, a tripod is needed.

– Experiment! Play around with your settings, different exposure times, and so forth. It’s the best way to learn and stumble across taking some great photographs. :)

We had a wonderful time laying under the beautiful night sky, and we couldn’t help but be amazed by its glories and what it spoke of the Creator.

We talked, we found constellations, ate s’mores, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Little one especially liked finding the constellations.

I spotted a couple meteors, but not many. Apparently there’s going to be a more major meteor shower on April 21st, so maybe we’ll have to go stargazing again. :)

Here is the printable I made – I hope you’ll enjoy it! These are constellations from the winter/early spring sky, along with some facts about each one. This is not a map of the sky, though; in other words, I didn’t draw the constellations in relation to each other, so their relative position/size on the sheet isn’t relevant … you’ll have to do some hunting in the night sky to find them. :) Just click the image below to go to get the PDF printable file:

Enjoy! :) (Psst … if you’re new here, you can check out our previous adventure-a-week challenge posts. And if you want to keep in touch for future adventures + more, just enter you email address near the top of the sidebar to get a handy email when I put up a new post! :)

Do you like to go stargazing?
I absolutely love getting comments, so leave your thoughts below! :)

Adventure-a-Week Challenge: Making smiles

Time for week 3 of the adventure-a-week challenge! This week’s adventure is a little bit different and at first glance might not seem as obvious as an adventure. However, it did certainly feel like an adventure to my little one! :) And it fits all the rules as outlined in the first post. Specifically, that it must be enjoyable, but doesn’t necessarily have to be entertainment based.

I think we do ourselves and our kids a discredit if we think that enjoyment needs to always come in the form of entertainment. The entertainment industry tries to pump that into us, and I know I’m definitely guilty of it sometimes. But this week’s adventure was certainly enjoyable, and was service related, not entertainment related. And my little one loved it!

All you need for this adventure are your little kids, some blank unlined index cards, and art supplies.

Have your kids decorate the index cards to become bookmarks. If your kids can draw easily on a smaller space, you can cut the index cards in half lengthwise. If you want, you can punch a hole in the top and tie on a ribbon. Just let the kids have fun making the bookmarks, and explain that you’re going to make some new friends and be giving out the bookmarks to people who might be kind of lonely.

Pack everyone in the car and head to a local nursing home. My little one wanted to carry her pictures in a basket to be able to hand them out easily, which I thought was sweet. We had a talk ahead of time about how to behave because I didn’t walk her to walk in and announce “Hey, you’re old, here’s a picture!” Not that I expected that, but you never know what kids might say. I also told her she would need to speak up when talking, because some of them might be a little hard of hearing, and we practiced projecting-without-yelling on the way over. :) I talked it up about how nice it would be to visit some older people who might be kind of lonely, and that making these new friends and making them smile was going to be our adventure. She was gung-ho for it!

Think about what time of day you’ll be going. Maybe even call the nursing home and ask what time of day would be best as far as when the most residents might be out in the public visiting area. We went around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, which was a rather unfortunate time of day … we wanted to visit one gentleman in particular who we know in that nursing home, but he was resting, as it seemed many other people were also resting at that time of day. I think next time we do it, we might go at meal time, and actually have lunch with them, and give little one the chance to visit a little more. Still, even at an apparently nap-ish time of day, there were still several people in the visiting area, and they were happy to see a young face, and my daughter was happy to see them.

Although *awkward moment!* the first picture she gave out was to someone who didn’t live at the nursing home, he was there to visit someone too, I think his mother. But he had grey hair and was sitting with them, and I guess when you’re 4 all adults are older, haha! But he was gracious and just handed it to the person who I think was his mother (she lived in the nursing home), and said, “Oh, thank you, I think I’ll let her have it.”

Some of the people she visited with had books with them and were able to put their bookmarks to use right away. But really, while its fun for kids to make pictures and such, it’s less about giving the bookmarks themselves than that the bookmarks make an easy way to start a conversation, so your kids can visit with the residents and cheer their day – and so your kids can get into the habit of thinking of others, not just themselves. Definitely an enjoyable and fulfilling adventure to make new friends and make some smiles!

Anyone else go on an adventure this week?
Do you have some other ideas for service based “adventures”?
I love to hear from you, please leave your comments below!

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Adventure Challenge: Week 2! Small Town Explore

Well, our weekly adventure challenge continues! (If you haven’t seen the challenge post yet, you can see it here.) Last week I shared our pirate nature scavenger hunt, and it was geared more specifically for small children. This time for our second adventure we did an activity which isn’t targeted at any specific age, and can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone.

(Although, confession – I cheated a little on the “weekly” this time. I’ve been posting the week after the adventure, but we didn’t go on an adventure last week due to sickness, we are doing two this week instead. Life happens! And the end count will be the same.)

This week’s adventure is to explore a small town. Typically we think of finding sights and activities in larger cities, but it can be an interesting and fun challenge to play the tourist in a small town. It takes a little more effort, and you have to keep your eyes open to find those special places, but that is part of the joy of it.

That can feel a little nebulous, though, and so I think it helps to quantify it. The goal is to explore a small town and discover five places of interest. They don’t have to be ground breaking, just interesting. Discover a small town’s treasures, learning the best place to get a sandwich, the story behind a mom-and-pop shop, the breakfast place where all the older men gather, the home-town band that everyone loves, the best place to get local produce, the history and story of the town.

And, to help you keep track of your finds, I’ve illustrated this free printable to document those interesting places that you discover, which is included at the end of this post.

I’ve included a few tips there on the printable:
1 – Take your camera! It can be a fun photography project to capture the essence of a small town on film. Well, not film anymore, I guess, but that sounds better than “capture the essence on a memory card.”
2 – Look for stories. If you go in looking for typical tourist-attractions in an itty-bitty town, chances are your options will be fairly limited. And probably less interesting. Stories, though, abound and are fascinating. Why the town is what it is, why that shop sells what it sells, why this spot is the place everyone tends to gather.
3 – Chat with local business owners. I love local businesses and their stories are ones that can be so interesting to discover. Plus, there is often a friendliness in small towns that lends them to be chatty, although this may vary geographically. But many small business owners would be happy to tell you about their story. I’m not saying take an hour of their time, just remark on something interesting you notice about their business, and you might be surprised to find out how eager they are to tell you more.
4. Get out and walk around! This is key. If you just drive down main street waiting for something to jump out at you, you might be disappointed. But if you park the car, take a stroll, and stop to smell the roses, you’re much more likely to find what you are looking for.

So there is the basic premise of the challenge. And here are the 5 places of interest we found from our own small town exploration…

We decided to explore the nearby small town on Corbin, KY. I’ve been there many times, even found some neat places there before, but never with this specific goal in mind. And so, even in a town I’ve visited before, I learned more stories and found some new aspects I hadn’t known before.

Place 1: The Original KFC.
This is Corbin’s “claim to fame”, and was the easiest place to begin. Nestled on a small road near a towing company and a used furniture store, is “Sander’s Cafe”.

It’s a cute little place on the outside, and when you first walk in it looks just like a regular KFC, with the big menu up above the counter, like any other. But the rest of the building is made into a whole little museum of interesting history and such. For instance, you can look at what the motel rooms looked like (yes, it used to be a restaurant and motel business) and find out that originally Sander’s Cafe was known more for its breakfasts than for its chicken.

As part of the challenge to think outside the box for our activites, we have the $15 limit on these weekly adventures (last week’s cost practically nothing) and so this was a special and easy lunch that fit easily within our budget.

Place 2: The House of S&J
When you first pull off the interstate into Corbin, it looks pretty typical-small-interstate-town-ish. But if you go to the older section, you see that Corbin used to be a railroad town. Main street runs parallel to the railroad, and there’s a little loop of old 50’s looking diners, buildings and so forth. Some are closed up, but you can also find gems. This is where we parked the car and got out to really explore. There were some window displays of beautiful antiques, so I decided to stop into see what it was like. It was The House of S&J, and I had never been there before.

The first room was a jewelry store. From there you enter a veritable labyrinth of rooms filled with antiques and beautiful home furnishings.

After casually browsing through several rooms, we suddenly found ourselves in a winter wonderland. I have never seen such a festive room, or such extravagant decorations! And everything was *huge*. Many of the ornaments would be measure in feet, not inches. Its was quite a sight!

And then, after that, I was shocked to find ourselves in a room that look like an opulent dining room! A giagantic chandelier hung from the ceiling, animal print carpeting, red velvet curtains, a massive fire place, and tables elegantly set. It looked just like a restaurant, but there was no one in there. I started to wonder if maybe I had wandered too far – I had gone through so many rooms throughout the store, maybe I ended up in a room I wasn’t supposed to have entered? Was this the business next door? But no, all the doors I walked through were wide open. I was simultaneously dazzled and confused.

So I made my way back to the front of the store – they had been very friendly when I came in and repeatedly offered to answer any questions I had – and I certainly had questions now! This was a great chance to chat with some local business people and find out the story of the place. It turns out, the room I had ended up in was an about-to-launch restaurant they are opening later this month! They have it open to see because apparently, besides being jewelers, selling antiques, and being about to open a restaurant, they also do interior design and that room shows what they can do. They told me the fare would be high quality regional cooking. They said it was going to be all affordable food, lunch, maybe breakfast, which surprised me based on the opulent decor. It was certainly fun to get a sneak peek of what it looked like, I wouldn’t have stumbled across it except for our exploring adventure.

Place 3: And now for something completely different
We started back up the street, and stopped in at another antique shop. I would be hesitant to have two places that both sell antiques here on my list, but this place was completely different!

I have never seen such unusual and quirky finds in an antique store as this place has. There are so many unusual taxidermy animals, plus a lot of old circus paraphernalia, and even some more macabre finds.

I don’t even know what that thing with the baby’s head is. From chatting with the woman who was running the shop, I learned that the owner just finished mortuary school and that explained the a whole section of skulls, laboratory bottles, and even a casket.

I’ve certainly never seen an antique store quite like this one! Frankly, it was fascinating to constantly be discovering something you’ve never seen before. Like a hoof inkwell, or to look up and see a bobcat (stuffed) sitting on top of a wall partition. My little one really liked seeing all the animals and circus stuff, too. Personally, I found the clown face perched next to the raccoon to be epic. :)

Place 4: The train station
In driving through the town before, I had caught a glimpse of a mural, but I had never really stopped to investigate. Well, this was the day for that! It was a huge and beautiful mural, depicting the train station it was next to:

I went up to check the train station itself – at one end I saw signs of square dance lessons, but on another door, I found a sign for a railroad museum. Neat! Unfortunately it’s apparently only open for 2 1/2 hours on Wednesday afternoons, and our adventure was on a Monday. But still, I was happy to have found out about it. Even if you can’t do everything on your town exploration, even just finding out about places you can come back to later is a success.

Place 5: A little park
Strolling back down main street there is a little park area .. grassy areas, trees, benches, a flag … and a sign that says that downtown Corbin has free wifi! Sweet!

It was getting pretty cold by this point, so we didn’t linger for very long, but I thought this was just a neat little place. It feels so classic American main street. I can imagine on a warmer day it would be a nice place to sit – and hey, free wifi is pretty nice too!

At the end of the day, we were ready to get in the car and get warm. But we had a lot of fun- I absolutely loved it! And as I was getting this blog post ready, my little girl was looking at the pictures from our adventure and said, “Oh, I wish we could do that again!” I might just keep a couple copies of my printable in the car, for whenever an opportunity to explore arises.

Here is the printable so you can keep track of your own small-town discoveries – just click to get to the PDF:

Do you like to explore small towns?
What do you think of our “adventure”?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below! :)

(For a list of all the Adventure-a-Week Challenge posts so far, just click here.)

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Adventure Challenge: Week 1! Pirate Nature Hunt

Well, this past week was week one of my Adventure a Week Challenge, and I think we are off to a great start!  I made an illustrated free printable, and its available at the end of the post, for anyone else who would like to do this scavenger hunt adventure, so be sure not to miss it:

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When I first mentioned to my four year old daughter that we were going to have an adventure a week, she was thrilled. I told her we might do a nature scavenger hunt, and she said, “Ooooh, how about a pirate nature hunt?” A pirate hunt? I wasn’t sure how we could do that, so I told her that it would probably wouldn’t be about pirates, and that was fine with her.

But the idea of a nature scavenger hunt with a pirate theme stuck with me. So I put my pen to work and illustrated this “treasure map” with various items we could find in the woods that look like (and we could pretend are) pirate gear or pirate treasure.  She was so excited!  The whole time we were getting ready to go, she kept saying “Arrrrrgh!” to everything.

The “pirate gear” items to find are:
– a sword (a stick with a “handle”)
– an eye patch (a round leaf which you attach to ribbon – just make sure its not poison ivy!)
-a pirate’s hook (a curved stick)

And the “pirate treasure” items are:
-jewels (rocks and pebbles)
-gold doubloons (acorn caps)
-pearls (berries – make sure they don’t eat them!)

And then, at the end you keep the pirate gear, but find a good place to “bury” the treasures – in a log, a hollow tree stump, etc. Of course, X marks the spot, so you use two sticks to make an X over the place they are buried.
I’ve attached the printable at the end of the post.  For the adventure, I recommend taking the following items…

– A basket or something to carry the things your kids find on the scavenger hunt
– A camera to catch their expressions when they find their treasures
-The treasure map printed out
-A pen or marker so they can check off the “Aye!” boxes next to each item they find – and I would recommend something to write down funny things the kids say.  I wish I had done this – I ended up scribbling down some precious quotes afterwards on a napkin, but I know there are some that I missed.
-Pieces of ribbons to tie onto the leaf and make an eye patch

One other option in getting ready to go is a costume.  My little one want to be dressed as a pirate to go find her pirate treasures, naturally. :)  Simple pirate costume: adult white button up shirt, a scarf around the waist, and a scarf around the head.  It was a gorgeous day, and there were quite a few people out and about at the state park we went to, and she definitely got lots of smiles as she went traipsing through the forest paths in her pirate get up.

I wasn’t sure how long it would take to find different items – the hook I thought might be one of the hardest items to find, but it was actually what she found first. (She’s being a “scary pirate” there with her hook on the left). The sword was a little harder to find, but not too difficult.  Once she had those, she didn’t want to part with them!

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This is the path we started up. And where she found many of the acorn cap “coins” … later she was describing this path and said “Oh, I found lots of gold moneys here!”

Being outside and roaming around through the woods can give lots of opportunities for learning and teaching.  From just learning how to handle yourself in the woods, to talking about practical things like recognizing poison ivy (and not using it to the eye patch), to more thoughtful remarks about how well God designed the trees, and plenty more.  Kids are sponges, and I love how their eyes widen with amazement when they experience or learn something new.

Finding the eye patch was one of the most difficult things on the list, because since it is February, there aren’t any green leaves left, and most of the leaves and down, crumpled and just not good eye-patch material.  But when she found this leaf she was SO excited to get to wear it! It was a fun little “mini-craft” to make it.  Poke two little holes in the leaf, not too close to the edge of the leaf, and preferably the cut should be parallel to the edge of the leaf, not perpendicular (these two things will help prevent the ribbon just ripping out through the edge of the leaf).  Then simply thread a ribbon through each hole, loop back the doubled ribbon and tie at the back of the head.  Simple, but a pretty effective eye patch!

This was one of my favorite quotes of the day – she really got in the spirit of the hunt, and as she stepped on some gravel she exclaimed, “Oh no! I think I stepped on some jewels!”  Simple things can be so precious in the eyes of a child.

The one thing from the list we couldn’t really find was berries for pearls, because none were growing this time of year.  But she found some of these Sweetgum seed pods, and used those instead.  Here she is holding all her treasures right before “burying” them.

After scouting out some options, she finally found a place she wanted to hide her treasures. It was in a concrete drainage pipe – you can see it a little bit behind her in the photo.  She has her two sticks which she made into an X and placed on top – she loved having this secret hiding place for her treasures with the secret symbol on top.

I had a “bad mama” moment, though.  I was taking some pictures afterwards and accidentally snapped off one of the handle pieces from her sword.  She tried to be tough and keep a stiff upper lip, but I could tell she was broken hearted. (Which goes to show how precious something little like a stick can be!)  So I fixed it up after we got home, with washi tape, and it looked so neat, we ended up decorating the handles of both her sword and hook with washi tape.  This can be an easy way to dress up the finds a little bit after you home, and is a fun and easy craft to do with kids.

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The whole afternoon was a ton of fun, and my little girl had a blast.  She told me she loved the adventure “one hundred”.  As we have some warmer days approaching soon, I thought this might be a fun activity for other families of small kids, so here is the printable to print out and go on a swashbuckling nature adventure of your own.  Just click the image below to open the PDF file, and you can print it from there:

treasure map printable from TheFlourishingAbodePin It

So what do you think of our first week’s adventure? Did anyone else go on an adventure?
Any ideas for what next week’s adventure should be?
Leave you thoughts in the comments below, I really love to hear from you!

(For a list of all the Adventure-a-Week Challenge posts so far, just click here.)

Challenge: An Adventure a Week

Yep, it’s cabin fever season! And so I’m starting a new challenge – an adventure a week.

My four year old daughter drew an adorable valentine card for me with a picture on it of us driving in the car. I asked her what it was a picture of, and she said “You and me going on adventures!” She often talks about how much she loves our “adventures”, and I realized that we haven’t been have enough of those lately. And especially this time of year we are itching to be getting back outside again!

So I told her today we’re going to start going on an adventure every week. Wow, she was thrilled! And I thought it would be fun to share the idea with all of you here. :)

I think that in our society, when people think of having special memories-in-the-making time with their kids, it often involves buying gifts, spending money on expensive vacations, or purchases at restaurants … but, unfortunately, while those expensive occasions might make the kids excited at the time, those special bonding moments seem to elude us. Personally, going to an expensive hotel where we all go our separate ways or watch the tv just doesn’t cut it for special family time. I’d rather go hiking in the woods, and see my kids eyes light up as I explain how the spider wove that delicate web. Or visit a museum that encourages life-long learning. Or all sing really loud in the car. Or sit and watch a sunset and talk about how good our God is. These types of activities don’t take much money … but they do take time, lack of distraction and being available to pick up the special moment whenever it may be. And lately I feel like I’ve been too busy with a lot of stuff that just doesn’t matter as much, and missing out on those times.

And so, my challenge. We are going to go on an adventure every week for the next two months!

What constitutes an adventure, you ask? Here are my rules for myself during this challenge:

A few examples of ideas … going geocaching, visiting an art museum, a nature hike to a waterfall, a scavenger hunt, getting a behind-the-scenes tour of a pizzeria, etc.

So, we will begin next week and for the next two months (through April 21st) we are going to go on a little adventure every week, Lord willing. I think it will be a little harder in the new area we moved to because it is a small town with fewer of the types of “adventure” activities I would typically look for, so I’ll have to think outside the box a little more. But I’m excited! And each week I will blog about our adventure. They won’t be elaborate or expensive, but they will be wonderful because my four year old will definitely consider them to be adventures. :)

For a list of all the Adventure-a-Week Challenge posts so far, just click here.

What kinds of adventures do you like? Please post your thoughts and ideas in the comments, below!
(And anyone is welcome to join the challenge, as well! Be sure to send me your blog links if you do!)

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