Monday, March 13, 2017

Book Review - Civil War Battlefields: Walking the Trails of History

Civil War Battlefields: Walking the Trails of History by David T. Gilbert, Rizzoli New York, 2017
Hardcover 10" x 10" 336 pages/230 color and black -and -white photos

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to review this book.  I have held a long fascination with all things relating to the Civil War.  When we travel we often seek out battlefields, museums and cemeteries, and proceed to soak up as much information as we can.  Civil War Battlefields: Walking the Trails of History contains in depth information on 32 key battlefields at 12 sites located in 12 states.  I couldn't wait to crack it open and I was not disappointed!

(Henry Hill and Henry House)

The book is broken down into 6 regions, with each region dedicated to individual battlefields.  Every battlefield then has a specific narrative and the author goes into detail on dates, strategic positions, the key players, and the reasons behind their maneuvers.  Spanning from the Battle of First Manassas to Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House you will get a new perspective on the historical significance and pivotal points of each battlefield.  That was one of the things I enjoyed most about this book.

Along with each narrative is a large map that shows where the Visitor Center is located -this is usually a good starting point for when you actually visit the battlefield.  Each map is also clearly marked with the different battle engagement locations, points of interest, cemeteries, auto tours and current hiking trails.  Another feature of the book that I really liked was the hiking trail information.  Included in the book are 124 battlefield hikes that range in length from 0.2 miles to 14 miles and differ in terrain from easy to strenuous.

(Stonewall Jackson Monument)

Civil War history oozes from the pages and you will almost feel and hear the roar of cannon and the crack of rifle.....
  • Learn how Lee's "Lost Orders" fell into the hands of the Union 
  • "The Battle of the Crater" and why Grant called it the saddest affair he witnessed in the war.
  • How Lincoln's Gettysburg Address transformed a brutal battlefield into a symbol that gave meaning to the sacrifices of the dead and inspiration to future generations
  • Grant's term's of surrender at Appomattox
  • The tunnel of Thayer's Approach
  • Why the war reached as far west as Picacho Peak in Arizona

(Stone Fort ruins)

Today fog and early morning mist envelope ghosts of the past.  The best way to get up close and personal with the history of each location is to get out and walk the trails.  The trail names, lengths, and levels of difficulty are all listed, as well as descriptions of the areas of interest, buildings, and monuments you will see along the way...
  • Chickamauga was the first national military park and provided the framework for preserving other Civil War battlefields.  The 9 mile trail here hosts 666 monuments and markers on the battlefield
  • Hazen Brigade Monument is the oldest Civil War monument still standing in its original location
  • Pickett's Mill Battlefield is the best preserved of the 1864 Atlanta Campaign.  The roads, earthworks and terrain have barely changed since the May 27, 1864 battle
  • The Kennesaw Mountain Trail climbs to an elevation of 1808 feet and features rocks where soldiers had etched their names

(Union artillery position)

Civil War Battlefields is laid out so the battlefields are described in geographical order instead of chronological order so you can attempt multiple hikes when you reach each location.  There is an extensive list of the chronology of the battles on page 27 and it includes the name of the battle, the date of the battle and the site name.  This makes it easy to plan a visit based on locations.

(Artillery piece on Lookout Mountain)

Civil War Battlefields: Walking the Trails of History offers a new viewpoint on this important time in United States history.  Black and white photographs taken during the war are a sharp contrast to the colorful photos taken now.  Both are scattered throughout the book and often give a different perspective to the same landscape, separated by a century and a half.   Showcasing the trails gives you a better idea of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought on each side.   Walk the trails and breathe the air, touch the cannons, stare across an open field and imagine a wall of soldiers advancing towards you.  Look at the monuments and put a face to the name.  Walk the trails of history.

Civil War Battlefields: Walking the Trails of History publishes tomorrow.

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Photo images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.) 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Meeting Sanibel Friends

Since I started blogging I have had the opportunity to meet many people in person that I've "talked" to for years thru my blog.  The majority of them are folks who share my huge love of Sanibel Island.

Well last night I had the honor of meeting Care, her husband Eddy and two of their kids - Bethany and Logan.   They are in Chicago this weekend for Bethany's dance competition and we made plans months ago to go out for dinner while they were here.  

So even after getting no sleep last night, and driving all day, they were nice enough to still meet for dinner.  We had the best time and talked non stop for several hours, in between bites of thick crust pizza.  

Number one on Bethany's list of Chicago "must do's" was Chicago style pizza, so we decided on Giordano's.   She gave it 2 thumbs up!

Anyway, I think the best part of blogging is the friendships that I've formed because of it.  And when I think about it, these are all people I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

So thanks Care.  It was a great night and I had such a good time!  I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip and get to see the Chicago river turned green for St. Patrick's Day.  Hey, next time we meet on Sanibel, ok?  And Cheri Bailey......  YOU are next!!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Refinished Trunk - Music is Love Looking for Words

Two years ago I bought a vintage army foot locker/trunk at an estate sale.   I just fell in love with it.  But stupid me, I didn't buy it the first time I saw it, and I was so upset about it that I went back the next day and let out a big sigh of relief that it was still there....

This was the really fabulous thing about the trunk - it had the original owners name written inside and I think he may have used it in Viet Nam....

I didn't really have the room to keep it for myself so I listed it in my Etsy shop.  And guess what?  It didn't sell.  So after about 6 months I took down the listing and it's been sitting in my shop waiting for a make over ever since.  Then a couple weeks ago I got the itch to start working on it so I dragged it into the house.

First I painted the outside with black, gray and white and gave it a light distressing....

Then I papered the inside with vintage music sheets. 

That is absolutely my favorite thing to use on the inside of old trunks...

It took me the longest time to find a quote that I liked but I finally found the perfect one "Music is Love Looking for Words."  I stenciled the quote across the top of the trunk and it was done!

I'm glad I waited to refinish it until the right inspiration hit me because I listed it in my shop and it sold in just 2 weeks.  I think it waited until just the right person was ready to buy it.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review - This Life I Live

This Life I Live by Rory Feek.   One man's extraordinary, ordinary life and the woman who changed it forever.

Meet Rory Feek - A soft spoken man with a shy smile and twinkling eyes who favors farmer style overalls over a suit and tie or faded blue jeans.  Rory spent his childhood seeking love and affection from an absentee father, a mother who did the best she could, and an uncle who saw a spark, enough of something, to help him secure a much coveted guitar.  Rory bounced from woman to woman, eventually ending up with a failed marriage that left him determined to raise 2 daughters on his own.  Convinced his future was based in music, he relocated to Nashville and eventually met Joey, the woman who helped to change his life.  Along the way he found faith in God, and peace within himself....

Rory has an honest writing style that invites you to come sit on the porch with a glass of sweet tea and rock awhile.  His words spread smooth across the pages like maple syrup upon a stack of pancakes.  In order to see how far he's come, he starts at the beginning and pours his heart onto the pages.  He bares his soul and the truths rush out - booze, sex, forgiveness and redemption, guilt and shame.  Sometimes you have to live through the worse in order to find and truly appreciate the good...
  • he grew up poor, moving from town to town, his family often fleeing in the middle of the night and the one small town that left a lasting impression
  • how he spent a lifetime searching for the good that he remembers from his childhood 
  • the uncle who served as a surrogate father, who saw a need in him and helped to fill it by purchasing one of Rory's drawings.  This same amazing man handed him a typewritten note that Rory carries with him to this day
  • how stealing a case of Froot Loops almost prevented him from joining the marines
  • when his first marriage fails he navigates the murky waters of fatherhood and chooses to raise his 2 girls alone, finally landing in Nashville so he can chase his dream of writing songs.
Sometimes God builds things that you don't see or even dream about.  And other times when a door closes, a window opens.  When Rory finally meets Joey, a vet assistant with aspirations of becoming a singer, they are both in relationships with other people.  A series of chance encounters eventually brings them together and soon they are married and living in Rory's remodeled farmhouse.   Life isn't easy for the couple at first and they quickly discover that they each have very different ideas of what their marriage roles should be.  And almost as soon as Joey secures a recording contract, her dreams are dashed.  Through their strong faith in God they discover that it's never too late to start over.  Rory continues writing hit songs, Joey opens a cafe with her sister in law, and a meeting with another song writer leads them to a 3rd place finish on the CMT competition Can you Duet.  This inspires them to start a recording career together, something they hadn't considered before.  God does work in mysterious ways, doesn't He?

But life doesn't always travel the road you think it should.  In 2014 the couple decided to take a break from their music careers and concentrate on living at home with Rory's daughters and raising their new daughter, Indiana, who was born in February of that year.  Within days they discovered that Indiana was born with Down Syndrome and by May Joey had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.  After surgery and treatment she was declared cancer free, only to have it come back a year later.   Unfortunately this time the prognosis was devastating and by October of 2015 they found out she was terminal.  It will hit you in the gut when you realize that Joey was not going to survive and that Rory would be left to raise another daughter alone.  

Circumstances like these are enough to break a person.  And yet Rory Feek is a man who took all that life threw at him and made a life worth something.  This is not a book about death.  It's a book about life and how to see what's important.  It is Rory's story of faith, love and hope.  It's his message of believing in something bigger than yourself.

Last year, just before Joey's death, the couple released their final album - Hymns That are Important to Us.  This album was a labor of love and faith for the couple.  As Joey was undergoing cancer treatments she recorded her vocals in hotel rooms whenever she felt up to it.  At the 2017 Grammy awards a few weeks ago their album won for Best Roots Gospel Album.  Do you think Joey knew?  I do.

I listen to country music so I was familiar with Joey & Rory since their first hit song, Cheater, Cheater  and therefore I knew who Rory was when I ran across his blog This Life I Live.   It chronicled their journey as Joey navigated her last few months and continues today as Rory's life takes on a new direction.  

In an ironic twist of fate, Joey & Rory recorded "When I'm Gone" in 2013, and made a music video depicting Rory living in their farmhouse where Joey is buried among the trees in a back field.  The video is beautiful and I guarantee you will have trouble holding back the tears.

Visit the Joey & Rory FB page.
For more excellent books by Thomas Nelson Publishing please visit their website.

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Photo images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.) 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Free Furniture - My Lucky Day!!

Yesterday was my lucky day!    I have absolutely no qualms about slamming on the brakes stopping my car and grabbing a discarded piece of furniture that is laying on the curb waiting for the trash man.  Come on...  I know some of you do that too.  Anyway....

Image result for slamming on the brakes

Yesterday morning we left our house and headed over to an estate sale.  As we turned the corner I noticed that the house behind us had a pile of furniture out in front by the curb so we stopped to investigate.  I saw some stuff I wanted but since we had my car, we went to the estate sale first and then headed back.   Believe me when I tell you my heart was in my throat because I was so worried that somebody would get there before us and get all that good junk.

When we pulled up there was a woman out in the driveway so I jumped out and asked her if she was throwing out all that furniture.  She said yes and that I could take anything I wanted.  Then she mentioned that they had to put her mom in a nursing home, had sold the house, and had to have the house empty by tomorrow for the closing.  She asked me if I wanted to come inside and see what else they were throwing out.  

OMG - that's heaven to a junker's ears, isn't it?  Was she kidding me????  I couldn't get in that house fast enough.   It was mostly a lot of garbage left but she did have some furniture that I was interested in.  I played it cool and poked around a bit since she said she thought her brother might want what was left.  I sent Louie home for our truck and I went back outside and guarded a cedar chest, a waterfall dresser and mirror, a small drop leaf table and a cane.

We took everything home and unloaded it and all the while I kept saying I wanted the tall secretary and matching chest that she had in the house.  I headed inside to my office to work and Louie shouted that he was going to be outside in the garage.  20 minutes later he was back with another truckload - the tall secretary I wanted with the matching chest and mirror, a large drop leaf table, and a small decorative side table.   Everything was FREE!!!  The lady said her brother decided he didn't want anything and they were so glad to give everything to someone who wanted it instead of it going to the dump.  She said some of it was her grandmothers stuff and really old.  

I'll tell you - I am giddy!!  Now we have plenty of projects to work on for awhile.  I spent all last night pouring over Pinterest and trying to decide how I want to re-do everything.  And again, I have to thank my fantastic husband for going back and scoring some more great stuff for us.  If you remember, he went above and beyond the call of duty last week when he got that vintage trunk for me.   How lucky am I???

Thursday, February 23, 2017

3 Tier Tray Make Over

Last week I picked up this 3 tier aluminum serving tray at an estate sale .  The minute I saw it I knew that I wanted to give it a make over...

All I did was paint it with 2 coats of white paint, lightly distressed it and then gave it a coat of wax....

I think it would be perfect for displaying jewelry or craft supplies.  It would also work nicely for displaying small items at a craft show.  I love a quick and easy project, don't you?  

For sale in my shop here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review - Breakfast Bowls

Breakfast Bowls by Caroline Griffiths, Smith Street Books, 2017

 Breakfast Bowls: 52 Nourishing Recipes to Kick-Start Your Day contains 128 pages and 52 mouth watering photographs.  If you are tired of eating the same old boring thing  each and every day for breakfast, then you will want to check out this nutritious offering.  And if the words "one bowl meals" strikes your fancy, then run, don't walk, to your computer and order this book.

It is broken down into 4 different sections:
  • Smoothie bowls
  • Seed & grain bowls
  • Classic bowls
  • Comfort bowls
Included in the mix are suggestions that also cover vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free and sugar-free options.  See, I told  you - something for everyone.

First up is the smoothie section.  I'm partial to smoothie's myself so I was particularly interested in the carrot cake smoothie bowl that combines yoghurt, carrots, pineapple, banana and vanilla.  How yummy does this look....

Another smoothie that I can't wait to try is the Avocado & Matcha that combines coconut milk, bananas, avocado, vanilla and matcha powder.  Matcha is green tea - I had no idea, did you?

The grain and seeds section will introduce you to items like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower kernels, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, millet, and barley flakes,.  Once you combine some of these ingredients with different things like coconut milk, fresh fruits, rice, honey, or eggs, you will have delicious bowls like black rice with tropical fruit, mixed grain muesli or rice cooker oatmeal with fruit.  

The classic bowls section was especially appealing to me as well since I'm a big fan of oatmeal.  And if oatmeal isn't your thing, you can whip up other things.  

Take a look at the baked oatmeal with lemon thyme and ricotta....

Who wouldn't  want to sit down to a bowl of caramelised apples & blueberry crumble?  Sound good?  This bowl includes honey, apples, blueberries and vanilla bean, topped by a crumble made of quinoa flakes, coconut flakes and puffed buckwheat....

The comfort bowls section contains meals that are a little heartier.  Chicken congee contains rice, chicken, and ginger.  Chilli bacon & eggs with sweet potato hash looks amazing and I have to try this one - it contains bacon, sweet potatoes, eggs and avocado.  Now that is one heck of a way to kick off your day, isn't it?

Breakfast Bowls has two indexes for your convenience - a regular index and a dietary index.  The dietary index is divided into sections for quick access to bowls of your dietary preference:  vegan, dairy, gluten free and grain free.

So, who wants to get out of the blah cereal or dry toast routine?   I bet you had no idea that you could easily make such nutritious and filling breakfast bowls.  Fuel up and start your day the healthy way!

  (I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Book Cover image is the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.) 
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