Conversation Heart Photo Frame Ornament

It's hard to believe Valentine's Day is just around the corner. (Since we were traveling, our Christmas decorations didn't come down until two weeks ago.) Time has been flying by. And yet, some things feel like they were a lifetime ago. 

The photo I used for this project is a good example. Sometimes I feel like I blinked and my tiny baby grew up. On the other hand, it feels like a lifetime ago. Affiliate links below. 


Conversation Heart Photo Frame Ornament



Select a photo that is at least as large as the heart ornament. Trace the ornament on the photo, then cut it out. Set the photo aside. 

Lay out the conversation hearts along the edge of the ornament. I recommend using Heart 2 Heart candies instead of the much tastier traditional conversation hearts with the red printed messages. I'm concerned that the ink on those will run when you seal your project. Also, the Heart 2 Heart ones are double sided, so you get two choices of message for each candy. 

Remove the hearts, then glue the photo to the ornament.

Then glue the hearts in place. Let the glue dry completely. Apply 2-3 thin coats of sealant, allowing each to dry before adding the next. 

When your ornament is completely dry, hang it where it will brighten your day. 


State-by-State Recommendations for Family-Friendly US Travel

Yesterday, I wrapped up a 12-post series on our travels through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. This seems like a good time to remind you that, along with the blog posts detailing our trips, I also have a dedicated page for each of the 50 states (and Washington DC). These pages include our recommendations for educational travel and ideas for crafts inspired by that state. 
Start on this page and then select any state by clicking on its flag. For example, this is what you'll see if you choose North Carolina:

Below the craft ideas, you'll find navigation tabs to help you go to all 50 states, the previous state (in this case, New York), and the following state (North Dakota.)

I have at least two craft ideas per state and am always looking to add more. If you have a suggestion for something iconic that would make a great craft for a particular state, let me know! I always welcome ideas. 

Speaking of crafts, I have a fun tutorial for you on Monday. Enjoy your weekend!


Family Fun in the South, Part 12: Greensboro and Charlotte

This is my final post about our recent adventure through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Click for the firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighthninth, tenth, and eleventh posts from this trip. Because I blog about educational travel, some places we visited gave me media passes, discounts, and similar benefits. Other places are free to everyone. We paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews, as I only share what I can honestly recommend.


Family Fun in Greensboro and Charlotte

After our quick visit to the City of Raleigh Museum, we drove 90 minutes to Greensboro. It is a beautiful city. Part of what makes it beautiful are its four large public gardens. All are free and provide a wonderful place for residents and tourists to enjoy nature. While I would have loved to have visited all four, we only had time for one. I chose Gateway Gardens

It was below freezing when we visited and obviously not much was in bloom. No matter; it was still a wonderful visit with the added bonus of having the entire place to ourselves! We started in the children's garden. 

It's beautiful and whimsical and so much fun. 

I love the carrots, but I also love the apple, tomato, and watermelon chairs along the back fence. And did you notice the letter C? Each letter of the alphabet is somewhere in the garden (not in alphabetical order!) for kids to find. There's a corresponding booklet that tells you what plant or garden feature each letter represents. 

I is for Ice. (No, not really. The ice is temporary. I is actually for Irrigation.) 

I loved Gateway Gardens. 

I really wish we could have visited the other three gardens. But we had other places to go. 

Next up was the February One Monument. It marks the day in 1960 that four students from North Carolina A&T University carried out their planned sit-in a the Woolworth lunch counter. This brave act prompted sit-ins and other segregated lunch counters throughout the South. Within two months, the movement had spread to 55 cities in 13 states. 

That Greensboro Woolworths still stands...

... and is now home to the outstanding International Civil Rights Center and Museum


There are two ways to tour the museum: you can take a guided tour with a docent, or you can watch a video of the docents walking through the museum explaining the exhibits, then walk through them yourself. If you can't visit in person, there are virtual options for you to "tour" the museum from home. 

We watched the 50-minute film, then walked through the museum. Having already had each exhibit explained to me helped deepen my understanding and focus my attention when I was walking through. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed. I would have loved to have shown you how well done this museum is. In particular, it was so hard to resist the urge to photograph the Woolworth's counter. It's all original: the stools, the flooring, the dishes, and the menu posters hanging on the wall. 

We had lunch down the street at Natty Greene's Brewing Company. The food was excellent. 

They had several flavors of Cheesecakes by Alex on the dessert menu. It was just down the street, so we went there to see the full range of flavors. There were at least 20 flavors and they all looked incredible. Trevor picked out two slices for the three of us to share (chocolate mint and white chocolate raspberry). Delicious!

Fun fact about Greensboro: it's the birthplace of Vicks VapoRub

I loved Greensboro and was disappointed we only a single day to spend in this cute city. We'll need to return!

Sixteen miles down the road is the town of High Point, the Furniture Capital of the World. We stopped to see the world's largest chest of drawers. It did not disappoint. 

We continued on toward Charlotte, the final city on our 15-day trip. I hadn't originally had Greensboro or Charlotte on the trip itinerary, intending that we'd fly home from Raleigh. But the flight options were better out of Charlotte, so we added the extra cities. Thank goodness we did! Greensboro was great and so was Charlotte. I'd love to return to both. 

So what did we do in Charlotte? Well, first we slept. Then we had breakfast, cleaned out the rental car, and repacked the luggage to make it airplane-friendly. With those accomplished, we walked to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Since it was 27°F out, I was glad we'd picked a hotel right next door and that the Hall of Fame is entirely indoors.

Before visiting the College Football Hall of Fame, I knew nothing about college football. Before visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame, I knew even less about NASCAR. Just like the CFHOF, the NASCAR HOF gives you a pass to wear. You register your name and two favorite drivers/teams. One problem: I didn't recognize enough names to have two favorites. I knew Jeff Gordon was from Vallejo (the city where I taught), so I picked him. My other choices were random. 

You enter the Great Hall...

... and the giant screen welcomes you. It's really cool. 

Glory Road features 18 of the most recognizable and important cars in NASCAR history. 

They're arranged along an increasingly steep bank. 

The signs along the railing show different tracks with that particular slope.

It maxes out at 33°. There's a ramp and handrail so you can feel just how steep that is. It's very difficult to stand there without holding onto the railing. I cannot imagine driving on it. 

I thought all car racing tracks were oval. Nope! Not even close. Some of these designs are just plain nuts. 

We had so much fun at the NASCAR Hall of Fame! There were lots of interactive exhibits. 

Here, I'm learning how to use the simulator. It was not easy. Or maybe it was and I was just terrible at it. Either way, I really struggled. 

Since I failed (repeatedly) at simulator training, I opted to skip using the stock car simulators. Trevor and Steve gave it a go and I enjoyed watching. 

Here, Steve and Trevor are working together to complete a pit stop as quickly as possible. That wasn't easy either. In fact, one of the themes of our visit was, "Wow. I had no idea that was so difficult!" Mad respect for everyone involved with every aspect of racing. 

The driver may get the glory and the name recognition, but every driver is part of a huge team. My best racing career matches are Finish Fabricator, Series Director, and Track President. (I think I'll stick with blogging.)

Steve's are Car Chief, Racing Ops, and Reporter. Trevor's are Finish Fabricator, Replay, and Shock Specialist. 

This was neat. The left side of this car is customized for racing, while the right side is production-model. 

These are some of the unusual trophies that NASCAR winners receive. 

We had a fantastic time at the NASCAR Hall of Fame! There was so much to see and do. I left with a new appreciation for racing. 

In keeping with the car theme, we walked a few blocks to Fuel Pizza. Yum!

Directly outside Fuel was a super cool literary-themed park called The Green. We only had a few minutes to spend there before we had to get to the airport. 



It was really difficult leaving Charlotte after such a short time. The more I saw, the more I wanted to explore. Of course, that's the case for so many of the places we visit. There really are some remarkable places in this huge country of ours. I'm so lucky to be able to see as many of them as I have.