Geocaching: Treasure Hunting With You Kids

I started this post a while ago, but just finished it. It’s never too late for good ideas for outdoor activities! It’s supposed to be a great weekend here in New England. I hope the weather is good where you are.

As I sit here with 3.5 more weeks to go with my cast on, I’m looking at my dirty house and dreaming of a time when I can get outdoors and hike.

A few years ago we discovered Geocaching.  It was a great way to get out in nature and explore, but also have a fun purpose.

Geocaching is basically looking for a hidden “treasure” or a cache.  A cache can be anything from a small tube to a large ammo box filled with trinkets hidden in a public place.  Here’s how it works.

1. Log on to and search for a cache to find.

You can sign up for a free membership that will allow you to search for cache’s all over the world.  You can upgrade to a paid membership for extra features and more caches.

You can put in your area code, a name of a town or park, or let find your location. I put in Kauai, Hawaii for this example.

selecting a geocache
A list of geocaches in the area specified

The list will give you the name of the cache, the distance from your current location, how many “favorites” it has received, the difficulty of the hike and terrain (on a 1-5 scale), the date it was last found and other information.

You can then click on one that looks interesting.  I chose the first one on the list, Queen’s Bath.

Geocache description page
Geocache description page

Again you’ll see the pertinent information of the cache now including the GPS coordinates, directions to the area, a description of the cache and how to find it. From here, you can also click on links to notes from other geocachers and hints.

2. Load the coordinates of the cache into your GPS

If the cache looks interesting to you you can load the coordinates into your GPS.  If you have a premium membership (we do) you can create lists and save caches you can get a map of caches along a route, and have access to more caches.  the membership is currently $29.99 per year.

there is also a mobile Geocaching app that we have on our phones to help fin the cashes.

3. Go find the cache.

Here’s the fun part!  Get outside and hunt for the hidden cache!  The description will tell you if you are looking for a small, tubular micro-cache or an ammo box or maybe a plastic food storage container.FInding a cache

3. Sign the log book.

Most caches have a log book or scroll for you to sign and date.

4. Take some swag and leave some swag.

Many caches have little trinkets inside the box.  The rule is if you take a trinket, you must leave a new trinket of equal or higher value.  Spygirl has gotten, rubber balls, erasers, coins, and beads.  We try to have a supply of trinkets with us to trade.cache with swag

5. Put the cache back.

Always put the cache back exactly where you found it for the next person to find.

5. share photos and stories on line

You can log into and log the cache that you have found.  You can leave comments or tips and any photos you have taken (as long as they don’t give away the location.)

Hints and Tips

If you are hunting with kids, try and stick to medium and large sized caches, as they tend to have more trinkets inside.  The micro-caches are only tiny capsules with a scroll to sign, but are fun because they are harder to find.

You must be fairly secret about finding a cache.  You don’t want to give away the location for others who may be hunting for it.  Also you don’t want people who don’t know about geocaching (called Muggles)  to find the cache and steal it or alter it in some way.

We always have a few caches to find in a particular location.  That way if you can’t find one, you have more to hunt for.

Some caches are a series where you have to find two or more in a particular area.

In some caches you might see a trinket with numbers on it.  These are called trackables.  You can look up the tracking number on and see where it’s been or if there are any rules for taking the trackable.  Usually you take it and place it in some other cache far away.  It’s fun to see where it’s been and how far it’s traveled.

Please leave any Geocaching questions in the comments. Also I’d love to hear about your Geocaching adventures!

Get out there!






What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I took a badly needed hiatus from blogging this summer.  I had surgery on my ankle at the end of May and imagined all kinds of time to write while I recuperated.  foot in a castSomehow that was not a realistic expectation.  Without going into too much detail, I took a lot longer to get mobile than I thought. Even when I was somewhat mobile, it took me so long to accomplish anything that the hours in the day just flew by.  Plus I find it hard to get work done when Spygirl is home.  I don’t consider this a bad thing.  Spygirl is 8 and going into 3rd grade.  I figure I have just a little more time left when she still wants to do things with me.  I was happy to take advantage of that this summer.

So what did I do?  Here are a few highlights.  Some of these I’m planning to write indepth posts about.  So if you see some activity that interests you, stay tuned!

The family took a road trip to Michigan via Hersey PA.

We planted a new vegetable garden.square foot garden

I tried to find planner peace.2015-08-18 11.20.08

We went on our annual camping trip with 4 other families.20150627_195323

We went to camp on the coast of Maine.Maine Coastal Camping

We finally furnished our living room furnitureliving room 2

We did some doll crafting.Pullip with ice cream

We joined the Boston Museum of Science.Pixar exhibitI tried to learn how to groom our Wheaten Terrier, Gryffin. Still learning that one.Wheaten grooming

I made curtains for our kitchen and some drapes for a large glass door in the family valence

So now it is October, bust still summery here in northern Massachusetts.  I’m about 90 % back on my feet, but haven’t danced yet.  I have some choreography to be done now so that will be a good test.

I missed posting this summer and hope to do more this fall. Although as I explained in my post, Why I Am Breaking All The Blogging Rules, I may not post all that often.

If there is something you really want to see, let me know and I’ll do my best to get a great post out.

So dear readers, what did you do this summer?




Why I Am Breaking All The Blogging Rules

foot in a castIf you follow Zanaree regularly, you may know that I had surgery on my ankle a few weeks ago. What was supposed to be an easy procedure with a month or so recovery, turned out to be more complicated.  As it turns out my ligament had completely detached from the bone, damaging the bone with it.  So now I have some Kevlar threaded through the bone with some screws and such.  Not the worst case, but also not what I expected.  I’ve had to wear a walking cast for a few weeks and still have a few to go.  Lugging the boot around caused some very painful tendinitis in my achilles.  So the recovery is going even slower.

What does this have to do with my blog? Well I have come to some conclusions and decisions about Zanaree while I’m laying around recuperating.

The first few days after surgery, I read a lot of material about creativity.  I read some things on time management and organization.  I devoured a few new online blogging books too. I felt like I was ready to conquer the blogging world with my brilliant ideas and have all the time in the world to write about them.  I even made lots of changes and improvements to the site. However, then the wonderful pain medication stopped and reality set in.

I spent the next week or so in a sort of depressed/bored state.  I considered scrapping the whole blogging thing.  “What’s the point?” I wondered.  I have been pouring over blog advice posts and articles and doing all the things I should be.  I have been improving my photography, incorporating SEO key words,  scheduling tweets, pins, Facebook posts, Instagram photos and Google+ posts,  with my content, other’s content and just interesting tidbits I thought my readers would like.  I have been commenting on other’s blogs and social media.  I have been linking up at linky parties and attending Twitter parties.

(What is the point of a Twitter party anyway?)

I’ve been doing all this at the hopes of getting enough traffic to get some sponsored post opportunities and maybe become an affiliate of one of my favorite craft retailers.

It occurred to me that in all those social media interactions, parties, etc…I feel like all we do is blog for and market to other bloggers.  Not that is’t a horrible thing. I find bloggers to be a mighty fine bunch.

I was just feeling overwhelmed and saturated with perfect “pinworthy” projects, perfect meals, perfect kids, perfectly clean and organized homes, perfectly fabulous craft rooms and offices. Plus all this perfection precisely captured on perfectly shot, edited and tweaked photographs.  For what started as a way to write about life, blogging seems to have become an unrealistic view of life through a Better Homes and Gardens lens.  I’m not saying that bloggers are inauthentic.  I’m just saying this is so not my reality.

Here is what my office usually looks like.
Here is what my office usually looks like.

I started to feel like I was living so that I could but photos on Pinterest and Instagram.  I was arranging projects and activities that I thought would make good online photos, not using online photos to document and share some interesting things that come up in my life.

I started to not enjoy reading sponsored blog posts by other bloggers.  Sure some are clever and humorous, but mostly I just felt I didn’t want to take the time to read a post about bath tissue, feminine products or the latest kids’ snack craze.  So did I really want to write them too?

Mostly I was getting stressed about summer vacation.  I was not looking forward to having Spygirl home, because I couldn’t imagine getting out a couple of blog posts every week with all the other tasks I was expected to do as a blogger.  This was the “Ah-ha moment” for me.  I want to enjoy my daughter as long as I can.  HappyBill and I made sacrifices to make sure one of us was home with her.  I realize we are very lucky to be able to do that, and I want to make the most of it.Summer fun collage

I in no way think negatively of other bloggers.  In fact, I admire how much work they do and how far they have taken the blogging profession.  It’s just not working for me right now.  It has started to feel fake.

So what will I do about it?

  • I’m going to continue to write Zanaree because I enjoy it.  If I do a particularly easy and cute craft I will write a tutorial and share it.  If I feel a burning desire to write about a topic, I will.  If I find some interesting material to curate and share, I will.  I just won’t do it on a set schedule.  So if I’m offline for a month at a time…so be it.
  • I will share things on social media if I have something interesting to share.  I will not search for material to share just because my schedule says I need to share so many posts on this or that social media this week.
  • I will comment on other blogs if I have something relevant to say or am moved by a piece.  I won’t comment just because my blog plan says I have to comment on X number of blogs this week.

Maybe with less pressure to come up with a prescribed formula for posts and marketing them, I’ll find my voice and become a better writer.

Who knows? Maybe then Joanne Fabric and Craft (or similar) will want to partner with me, and I’ll be thrilled to accept.  In the meantime, I shall just keep publishing because I enjoy it.

Have a wonderful and safe summer! I’ll see you around the blogosphere.



Safety Rules for Walking and Biking

Bike rules colage.Summer weather is finally here in MA!  Of course, with all the snow this year, we still have another month of school.  Spygirl learned to ride her bike without training wheels and moved on to a “big-girl” bike.  Read all about our no fear method for learning to ride here.

With the kids biking and just generally being outside now, safety is especially important. Lately, I’ve heard the kids tell each other different versions of what the rules are for walking and biking.  It made me question if I had the rules correct.  So I did a little research to find out just what the safety rules are for being on the road, whether biking or walking.

Keep in mind a few of  the rules I’m listing (like helmet requirements and sidewalk use) are specific to Massachusettes.  I assume the rules are similar in other states.  However, you might want to check with  your local safety commission or biking association to confirm.

Biking:no training wheels slider photo

Here are the rules for bicyclists according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Wear a helmet! ( in MA anyone under the age of 16 is required to wear a helmet. I also think adults should wear them.  I took a bad tumble of my bike a few weeks ago and it is a very good thing I had my helmet on!)
  • Ride on the right side of the road, same side as traffic, go with the flow, not against it.
  • Obey all traffic laws just as if you were the driver of a car. Signs signals and lane markings.
  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Children less than 10 years old are better off riding on the sidewalk.
    check laws in your own state to make sure sidewalk riding is allowed. (In MA, you are allowed to ride on sidewalks outside of business districts)
  • Be careful of vehicles coming out of or turning into driveways. (My BFF got hit by a car backing out of a driveway!)
  • Enter a street at a corner and not between parked carrs. Alert pedestrians by saying “passing on your left”


Here are some safety rules according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School:

  • When walking, always use the sidewalk.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing the oncoming traffic. and walk single file.
  • Cross at crosswalks only and wait for the walk signal
  • Be aware of runners or bikers.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Headphones may drown out sounds that would alert you to cars, bikes, runners or other pedestrians. So keep the volume down.

Also whether on bike or foot, I always tell Spygirl , don’t assume cars can see you and will try not to hit you.  Assume they can’t see you and act safely to stay out of their way.  I tell her this in some form or another almost every time she goes out to play.  Sometimes I get an eye-roll because she’s heard it a hundred times, but I don’t care as long as she remembers.

When do your kiddos get out of school?  Do you have anything to add to this list of safety rules?  I’d love to hear your comments!

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Cheers and stay safe this summer!