Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review - Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia

Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid by Vin T. Sparano

The 5th edition of the Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia was recently published and at 640 pages, it is packed with over 1300 beautiful colored photographs and hundreds of illustrations.  It is the ultimate reference guide for anyone, of any age or gender, who wants to spend time in the great outdoors.  Author Vin T. Sparano is the former editor-in-chief of Outdoors Life and wrote the first edition in 1972.  This latest offering has been updated to reflect modern equipment and techniques.  Weighing in at 4 pounds, this book is all muscle!

Divided into ten sections, the encyclopedia covers a wide range of subjects:
  • Hunting and Shooting
  • Game Animals and Birds
  • Fishing
  • Game Fish
  • Camping
  • Survival
  • Boating
  • Archery and Bowhunting
  • Hunting Dogs
  • First Aid
I cannot stress enough how thorough and compressive this edition is. For example, in the very first chapter on hunting and shooting you will read about different rifles and how they work.  I particularly liked the photos and instructions on loading and using a muzzleloader.  Learn about gun stocks, scopes, barrels, shells and the inner workings.  It moves on to explain what cartridges to use for different game.  After discussions on rifles and hand guns, you will see detailed illustrations on where to shoot the big game you want to bag.  If you have no idea on how to field dress your deer, have no fear.  Once you read this chapter you will know the proper way to accomplish it, take your venison home and cook a delicious meal or make your own jerky. 

The chapter on Game Animals and Birds will thrill you with the colorful photographs and then each animal is further broken down with their range, identification, size, food and edibility. 

If you're a fishing enthusiast, then the Fishing section will be of particular interest to you.  It covers spinning reels and tackle, fly fishing, spin casting, and bait casting along with full page spreads of colored photographs showing the proper techniques.  Find out all you'll ever need to know about bait, tackle, hooks, rods, line, freshwater or salt water fishing, tying knots, how to clean a fish and how to freeze or smoke them.

Chapter four is all about game fish, complete with beautiful photographs and descriptions, the range, habitat, size and food that is unique to each species.

For those of you who camp or want to try your hand at it, then section five is for you.  Find out all you need to know about the different types of tents and the materials they are made from.  There is extensive information on campers, travel trailers, fifth wheels, motor homes and van conversions.  I bet some of you never knew there were so many wonderful options to make your camping experience truly unique.  Throw in some extra fun with a snow mobile or ATV and really get your camping trip going.  Your degree of comfort depends on what you outfit your camp site with, so find out about sleeping bags, hiking boots, hot and cold weather clothing, cooking utensils, and lanterns.  Find out how to properly build a campfire, plan menus and keep your food away from the animals.   Extensive and informative, this chapter has got you covered.

Section six has something for literally everyone because it will show you how to make good use of any available resource in an emergency situation.  Learn how to prepare a survival kit for either your vehicle or for hiking purposes and what the differences are.  Discover how to make potable water and what wild plants are edible.  Get valuable information on medical care and how to incorporate fire and shelter until help arrives.  If you're ever stranded in the heat or extreme cold, you'll find the tips in this section helpful and perhaps vital to your survival.

All type and manner of boating is covered in section seven, be it a hull boat, a kayak or canoe, a sailboat or a paddleboard.  Both inboard and outboard motors are discussed in detail.  Electronics such as depthsounders, marine radios, GPS units and radar are covered too.  Every boater should have some knowledge of knots and there are 4 full pages with over 15 types of knots explained, along with illustrations on how to tie them.  Safe boating procedures are covered at length and I found this section extremely helpful.

Chapter eight covers archery and bowhunting.  Learn the differences between a compound bow and a crossbow.  Find out what to look for when shopping for one and the proper way to handle your bow.  Arrows and strings, as well as archery accessories are also covered.  There is an excellent description with illustrations on how to shoot a bow, including stance, nocking, drawing, aiming, release and follow through.  Keep reading to get important information on actual bow hunting and what to do in the field to bag your deer or other game. 

Chapter nine on hunting dogs was an unexpected treat - it also turned out to be my favorite chapter.  We've owned and raised hunting dogs and I still learned a lot.  The author covers pointers, flushing dogs, retrievers and hounds complete with a captivating colored photo of each breed along with their brief history, description, size, hunting ability and disposition.  I was almost tempted to go out and buy another hunting dog after I read this chapter!

The final chapter on first aid is one that cannot be stressed enough and it gives step by step procedures for virtually any outdoor situation you may encounter.  
  • emergency medical treatment
  • bites and poisonous plants
  • burns
  • dislocations and fractures
  • first aid kit
It never hurts to be well informed and prepared.  I enjoyed reading the paragraphs on how to remove a fish hook from yourself, since this is something I've managed to do twice already.  Now I'm prepared if it happens again, but fingers crossed it won't.

The Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia is just that - complete!  I am hard pressed to think of a subject it doesn't cover.  If you spend any time in the outdoors or know someone who does, this book will be hugely beneficial on many levels.  Direct and to the point, easy to read and understand, sprinkled with colorful photographs and clear illustrations, this manual covers it all.. 


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.   Get your copy here

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lake House Bathroom Update

I've had an on-going knock down, drag out fight with the leaking bathroom sink at the lake house for several years.  This year the sink has been winning the fight and by late spring I was emptying the overflowing cool whip container underneath the sink on a daily basis.  You can read about that post here.

It got to the point where we had to bite the bullet and replace the entire sink, vanity, pipes and faucet.  Believe me when I tell you I did not want to tackle this project.  Just tearing out the old sink and vanity resulted in a huge hole in one wall and part of the floor tiles broken and chipped.  Sigh....  Fortunately I am pretty good with spackle and quickly fixed and repainted the wall.

Our lake house is located 30 miles from a major city and the only close place to buy a new sink and vanity was a little store in town that apparently stocks only leftover items from the 1970's.  When Louie came back from town, my heart sank when I looked in the back of the truck and saw an ugly dark wooden vanity.  We were at the point of no return and I didn't have any choice, so I told Louie to go ahead and install it and I'd do the next best thing - paint the whole thing later!  If you look closely you can see where the floor tiles are now missing even though I tried to cover them with a throw rug.  LOL!

One word of advice - never buy an old faucet from the 1970's, even if it's quote-unquote new in the box.  Louie went to all the trouble of installing it and checking to be sure there were no leaks.  Then the very first time we turned it on to actually use it, something snapped off inside and the entire faucet broke, resulting in water spraying everywhere.  Did I ever mention how much I despise working with water and plumbing?  So back into the car we went, drove all the way to town, went to Walmart and got another new faucet.  Back to the house, uninstall the broken faucet and then install the new faucet.  I don't even want to tell you how pissed off we were by that point.

Anyway, the 2nd new faucet worked, so Chablis and I removed all the hardware from the cabinet, filled in the holes and quickly applied 2 coats of white paint to the vanity.  Then she distressed it and now we have a new bathroom vanity we can live with.  With no leaks!!

Note the nice patch job I did on the wall.  :-)

I'm not making any promises on when the floor tiles will ever be replaced.....

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Estate Sale Pyrex Bowl Set

I have wanted the Pyrex 4 bowl set of primary colors for the longest time.  My mom was given a set as a wedding gift almost 60 years ago and I've always loved it.  I look online on Ebay and at garage and estate sales, but any set I see is always priced way out of my price range.  Until 2 weeks ago. 

We happened to stop at an estate sale as we were driving to the grocery store. Honestly, I didn't think this particular sale had much promise.  It wasn't listed on the local estate sale website, there was no "official" estate sale company running it, and it was a really small house.  But you never know what you might find, right?  Right!

Sitting on the kitchen table was the Pyrex 4 bowl, primary color set....

 It was super clean and the colors were barely faded at all.  Clearly this set had never been shoved into a dish washer.  I held my breath as I inspected each bowl, sure that one of them must be cracked or something.  Want to know why?  Because the price sticker said $ 20.00.  OMG - that was cheap.  Dirt cheap. 

I cradled the bowls in my arms and hissed at Louie "I cannot believe these are only $ 20.00.  Are they insane??"  Louie took the bowls from me and walked up to the check out table and offered the woman $ 13.00 for the set and she said yes.  I almost passed out.  I ended up buying a vintage candy jar for a dollar and Louie found a 2 gallon vintage Red Wing crock that he also got her to part with for    $ 19.00 - another steal.  I can't show you a picture of the crock because Louie gave it to Chablis and she has already hidden it away from me.  Isn't that rude??  LOL!

It just goes to show you, don't judge an estate sale by the lack of advertising or the appearance of the house.  You never know what treasures you'll come away with.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sanibel Trip 2014

This year's trip to Sanibel Island was low key and relaxing.  We had 5 glorious days of warm and mostly sunny weather, with a few afternoon showers thrown in here and there.  It was usually just enough rain to cool things off and we were quickly back on the beach in hot pursuit of shells.

As always, I had my copy of the Sanibel Captiva Handbook along.  This book is indispensable.  When I want to know something about one of the restaurants, I can quickly look it up.  When I couldn't remember the name of a souvenir shop we wanted to visit, I whipped out the Sanibel maps and quickly located it, complete with name and phone number.  This book is so handy.  If you missed my review on this years edition, go back and read it here.  Better yet, buy a copy for yourself.  It's also available for instant download on Amazon too.

One of our favorite restaurants on Sanibel is the Fish House.  I had a lobster roll that was excellent - stuffed full of flavorful, sweet lobster.  Chablis likes their seafood pasta.  But the real reason I go there is to get a slice of their key lime stuffed cheesecake.  It is out-of-this-world delicious.  I must confess, we took some back to our hotel on 2 different nights.  I can't stop eating it!

 Evenings this year were overcast, so we never really got a colorful sunset.  One night the tide was pretty low and we had a lot of beach area to wander.  We still enjoyed the birds flitting about and we were treated to some golden tones on the horizon.

This year we tried a new restaurant for us - The Green Flash out on Captiva.  We will definitely be going back.  It was a little more upscale than the restaurants we generally eat at, but the location has a killer view and we had a window table.  Our waiter was one of the finest we have ever had - very attentive and pleasant.  Our meals were top notch and beautifully presented.  I had the stuffed grouper and it was fantastic.  I think it was the best meal I had the entire trip.

After dinner we parked at the last public lot on Captiva and went for a long sunset walk on the beach.  We had some gentle rolling waves that evening and we found many nutmegs and olives.  I found this one shell half buried in the sand and liked the way the light was hitting it....

Again we had a cloudy sunset, but we returned with pockets full of shells, so we were happy.  We stopped at The Bubble Room and took a slice of Orange Crunch Cake back to the hotel for a little late night snacking...

We enjoyed the beach on Captiva so much the night before that we decided to return the next day and we walked all the way down to Red Fish Pass. 

It was a long walk and we made several stops to swim in the water, have a snack or just rest.  Once we reached the pass we had the beach area to ourselves.  I was disappointed in the lack of shells out there however.  After about half an hour a man and his 2 pre-teen boys climbed over the rocks and were strolling the beach near us.  The 2 boys felt it was necessary to keep picking up handfuls of sand and whipping them at each other while they ran around screaming.  The father kept drinking his beer and did a great job of totally ignoring them.  Really, have some control over your brats.  I was disgusted at the behavior of all of them, so we gathered up our things and headed back down the beach to our car.  Honestly, that was the worst behavior I've ever encountered on Sanibel.  Usually the people there have more class.

That evening we had another quick storm, but we saw a nice rainbow.  I always think that's good luck, don't you?

We walked around lighthouse beach and picked up a ton of tiny bubble shells.  We practically had the beach to ourselves.

I never get tired of looking at the lighthouse....

Our last morning found us with overcast skies again.  We had a quick breakfast at The Lighthouse CafĂ© where I like their pancakes and real linked sausages.  As we entered the sad lane to head for the airport, we stopped for our traditional last walk on the causeway, where we each pick up a shell to put in our pockets for the trip home....

As we were pulling out of the parking lot I glanced at my watch and realized we had about half an hour to kill.  I remembered that there was a geocache hidden on the beach on the opposite side of the causeway.  I floored it drove over there and we got out to take a look.  The geocache is called MacGyver This One and it's a good one.  Due to the nature of the cache I can't even show you any pictures of it, but I will tell you this.....   I knew it was going to be difficult, but I wanted to look at it and see what type of a special tool we'd need so I could bring it back with me the next time.  After searching for a little bit Chablis found the cache and after a minute of studying I ran back to the car for a needed item. After kicking off my flip flops and making several mad dashes, we determined that we needed to try something else. Again, Chablis did a great job of thinking like MacGyver and tried a different tactic. Success! With minutes to spare, we made the airport in time for our flight. This cache was well worth almost missing our flight and I gave it a hearty FAV point.  It was the perfect ending to our Sanibel get away. 

Even though we didn't net very many great shells this year, we still cherished our special trip.  We got to spend an afternoon on the water with Captain Brian and I finally got my horse conch.  Plus we got to kick back with The Shell King and his Queen and made 2 new friends in the process.  And we had all kinds of great food and found a new restaurant to add to our list of favorites.  You just can't beat all that, can you?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Repurposed TV Trays

Last week I found 3 of these old TV trays shoved in the back of a closet in the basement at the lake house.  I couldn't tell you how long they've been sitting in there, probably since we bought the house 8 years ago.  I dragged them out of the closet and set them by the back door to take to the dump.  Then I had a bright idea - duh, if I'd just paint them they would look great and I could actually use them!  After all, I'm always going to garage sales and estate sales looking for old crap to buy and fix up.  I probably have a lot of old crap in my own house that I could fix up.   LOL!

I gave them a good scrubbing....

 Then I grabbed a couple cans of blue rustoleum spray paint off the shelf and gave each of the trays 3 coats of paint.  Then Chablis and I started going through our stash of old maps and brochures and started clipping out things of interest.  We glued everything to the top of the TV trays and sprayed the top with some Mod Podge acrylic sealer.  Then we painted on 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic finish....

And here are the finished TV trays, all with a Kentucky theme since we'll be using them at the lake house...

 I can't believe I almost threw them out!

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Make it Monday # 13

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Schnapper's Hots on Sanibel Island

When we go to Sanibel Island, the very first thing we do when we get there is stop at Schnapper's Hots to get something to eat.  It's our annual tradition.

I love the beachy vibe of the hot pink and canary yellow building.  As soon as we pull into the parking lot we scan the front windows and say a quick prayer that the line isn't going to be out the door.  I cannot wait to shove some of their French fries into my mouth!

You walk up to the cashier and place your order.  I never have to look at the menu because I always get the exact same thing - the buffalo chicken wings.  Chablis always gets a hot dog and we split an order of French fries.  They have the best fries on the planet!

While you're waiting for your order, it's fun to walk around the interior of the building and read all the signs and look at the posters....

Have a comment?  Fill out a post card and stick it on the wall....

5 minutes or so later and our order is ready.  Sorry that the photo quality here isn't too great.  I was too worried about eating and not paying attention to the lighting.....

The restaurant is small and there is no inside seating, just 2 long counters for standing room only - which is fun and adds to the ambiance.  They have huge rolls of paper towels on the counters to use instead of napkins and believe me, I needed them for my chicken wings.  However, there are picnic tables scattered outside if you prefer sitting down.

Schnapper's Hots is an award winning restaurant and has been a Sanibel Island fixture since 1998.

The next time you're on Sanibel Island, be sure to stop by and give them a try.  You can check out their menu and catch their hours here.  Also be sure to visit their FB page.
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