Okay, letterboxing first! Then mac n cheese. Have you heard of it? Letterboxing, not mac n cheese…duh…It’s sort of like Geocaching but without the GPS? Have you heard of THAT? Well, I got Jack heavily into letterboxing and now he’s hooked. It’s a great family activity for kids of all ages, if they’re able to do a bit of walking in the woods, and/or can read simple clues…
I’ll start at the beginning. I learned about letterboxing many years ago from a nature/hiking instructor that we used to go on long hikes with. (never end a sentence with a preposition…sigh…) He taught us some survival skills and gave us a good instruction about nature and parks and hiking trails, etc. He then spent the last day of class showing us how to letterbox.
You pretty much create a trail name (mine was Polaris at the time), create a rubber stamp to illustrate your name (mine was a North symbol), using that pink rubber stamp material and a sharp carving knife (or buy a pre-made stamp), and then get an ink pad a pen and a notebook. That’s all you need.
Letterboxing consists of hidden boxes that contain (usually) a rubber stamp created by the box owner, an ink pad and a notebook. You’re basically finding stamps and collecting them in your notebook, and then stamping YOUR stamp in their book and writing in the date and your trail name. That way the box owner has a record of who visited the box, and you have a record of all the boxes YOU visited. Sound fun?
Most boxes are hidden in parks or on trails in the woods, simply because it’s easy to hide them and then give directions as to how to find them. Some are hidden in busy traffic areas like inside stores, or in guard rails of commuter parking lots, etc. The fun is finding them and collecting the stamps to show how many you’ve found.
So, to start, go to letterboxing.org click on either the big book on the left, or “Letterboxing” at the top to search for clues in your area. Just type in your state, and hit Search. Then scroll down to your town or city. Once you find some clues, print them out, pack up your stamp, ink pad, pen and notebook and head out to collect stamps.
me: Hey Jack, there’s a stamp in Old Mine Park called the lost mummy!
Jack: Let’s skip it.
me: Why, that sounds cool!
Jack: I don’t want to run into a real mummy.
me: That’s probably just the shape of the stamp they used. There’s not a real mummy…
Jack: There’s hundreds of acres of woods out there. Of COURSE there’s a real mummy! Sheesh.
The “old mine” at Old Mine Park
Jack entering his first stamp. Much to his chagrin, it was a princess!
The view from one of the letterbox locations
Okay, and now we’re ready for the Turkey Mac n Cheese. Right? RIGHT??
It’s the easiest thing ever. Take a box of Kraft mac n cheese (or any other organic or low fat kind that you like) and make it. I left out the butter and milk and just used 2/3 of the cheese packet. Kept the calories pretty low.
Brown 1/2 pound Jennie O lean turkey, with 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1 cup chopped green/red peppers. I didn’t use ANY seasoning except a dash of olive oil in the pan. Swear.
Add one cup (or one small can) of Hunts tomato sauce. Heat it all up.
Then in a smallish baking dish layer 1/2 mac n cheese, 1/2 turkey mix. Repeat. Top with 1/4 cup fat free or low fat shredded cheddar.
Bake 400 for 15 minutes.
I tasted it right out of the oven and kept tasting until my portion was consumed entirely. I’m going back for more now.
If you consider this one pan to be 6 servings, then each serving is just 200 calories but packed with protein and veggies. Low in salt and fat!
Jack is going to LOVE the leftovers.