Monday, September 29, 2014

A Day of Paying Attention

“It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and that I didn't catch the remark because I wasn't paying attention.”   ― E.B White, Charlotte's Web      

Last week, on Review This! I wrote about the Shawan Downs Legacy Chase annual benefit steeplechase in Maryland.  I love going to watch the horses race around the course, jumping over a variety of fences.  It is an amazing, good time.

I made it a point to go again this year.  The weather Saturday was perfect. Following days of cold and rain, Saturday was a sunny, clear-skied day in the 70's.

Moving from one spot, to the next, finally settling on the deserted back fence. I sat in the long grass along the very old fence. Between races I admire the lichen on some of the ancient wooden rails.  Then I realized, despite my best efforts to find privacy, I was not alone.

Dancing spiders
There were spiders moving and dancing along these flat old hardwood boards.  I wasn't sure if they were marking their territories or trying to mate. Perhaps they were warning me to leave. Every few inches there was one of these thumbnail sized spiders. They slowly moved along, back and forth, lifting their hind ends high then dropping them, like hydraulics on a car in a parade. Up and down, up and down, while moving back and forth.

At first I nearly squealed. I'm not extremely afraid of spiders, but I do hate walking into webs when I hike and I'm afraid of the ones that jump.  Initially, I thought these would jump. They looked aggressive. I thought they would move up and down, up and down, side to side, then jump on me.  But they never jumped.

As I watched, mesmerized, I began to notice the webs spitting out of the spider's caboose.  I could see it with my naked eye, spurt, shooting off into the wind, iridescent in the sun.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Look closely, see the web?
I watched and tried to photograph the dances and web spurting, being very careful not to rest my elbows on the top board again in lieu of a tripod.  I was vaguely aware of people walking by, probably wondering what in the world the crazy lady was doing.  Why bursts of shutter clicking while no horses were running?

But I remained focused on the spiders. And their dances. Amazed at how relatively thick and how long the webs were. String after string, like invisible kites being guided by the spider's hiney. Not forming a cobweb, but streamers of spider string blowing to the sky.

The spiders had begun to look less ominous.  In fact, I began to think of one of my very favorite books of all time. Charlotte's Web.  What a great story.  And something was scratching away at the back of my brain.  I knew I had read a fun review about Charlotte's Web. Now just who wrote that thing, I asked myself over and over.

Charlotte's Web
I returned home and found it, the reviewer of Charlotte's Web was Mary Beth's granddaughter.  That explains why the review stuck in my head. Do you want to read a cute and insightful review from the perspective of a little girl? I am five times Rachel's age of 10 but I still love Charlotte. Isn't it amazing how a good story can stick with us for our entire life?

And that was how I spent my Saturday at Shawan Downs, watching horses fly and spiders dance.  

Written by Dawn Rae
Images of spiders by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Country Song About Angels Quietly Lifting Us During Troubled Times

Amazon: Angel Spirit Guide
It's Sunday today. The day I post here on the 'Review It' blog. Since times aren't easy for many who are struggling right now, a country song about the guiding hand of angels seemed like an ideal selection for today. We can't erase all the problems out there, but maybe the healing message of a song can help us find a small spark to light our candle with.
"Oh I believe there are, angels among us, Sent down to us, from somewhere up above, They come to you and me, in our darkest hours, To show us how to live, To teach us how to give, To guide us with the light of love" Angels Among Us, by Alabama

Do you believe in Angels? Have you ever had what you believed to be an encounter with an Angel? Perhaps you were saved from a situation that you shouldn't have survived? 

I've had my own odd happenings for sure. One such time was a lady who gently bumped into me in a mall, like I knew her...I had been going through a rough patch and while picking something up for my son, I had been quietly praying to myself for guidance and had asked for a sign that my prayers were heard...that's when she brushed by me ever so gently, the next thing you know, I turn to see her and she's walking away from me and just fades away into the distance. I have no idea where this mall visiting angel disappeared to, but it was enough for me to call my best friend and tell her the story. The gift, either known or unknown, was delivered; I felt calmer afterwards.

Another encounter I had was during a prayer in Church, I asked for a sign to help me know the answer to the question I had. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, and at that moment right in the middle of the service, this lady comes over and kneels right beside me. I glanced at her and smiled, she smiled back. She stayed for a moment, prayed beside me, then got up and left. Again, I have no idea where she went, and I've never seen her again. Whatever that moment was, I've never forgotten it. It lives inside me as a gift, a small gift that no matter what, there's always hope.

In a complex, sometimes unfair world, faith keeps us going; faith in ourselves, faith in each other. As cliche as it sounds, we are one, all part of the same light. Whether your belief is in science or a higher power, it's still energy, it's light. If you're struggling, I hope you find the light today and are gifted with an inner knowingness that you'll get through it. I'll be sure to look for it today as well.

I hope you enjoy Angels Among Us by Alabama - A beautiful song.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Friday, September 26, 2014

Halloween Outdoor Decorations

I love walking around our neighborhood looking at all of the Halloween outdoor decorations.  They range from beautiful autumn pumpkin and flower displays to the haunted house downright eerie decorations.  Of course, I love them all!

Halloween is such a fun holiday to celebrate.  It thrills me to see my neighbors and friends enjoying the occasion.  It isn't even October yet and already my neighbors have started decorating.  Right now, they seem to be limiting their decorations to the autumn harvest displays, but I know very soon I will start seeing the witches and goblins come out.

Join Us for A Virtual Tour of a Neighborhood Decorated for Halloween

A Tour of Outdoor Halloween Decorations by Mbgphoto
I have noticed that I am not the only Review This contributor who loves touring the neighborhood and looking at all of the decorations.  Mary Beth shared her own Tour of Outdoor Halloween Decorations with us through her beautiful photography.  I know you will all enjoy talking that virtual tour of Mary Beth's neighborhood.

Decorate Your Own Yard for Halloween

We don't just stop at looking at others decorations, we decorate our own front yard!   We set up our inflatable outdoor decorations first.  After our inflatable ghosts and pumpkins are in place, we add Halloween lights to our bushes.

Several of our neighbors decorate with ghosts, witches and cauldrons.  Looking down our street, the combination of different themes really makes for a wonderful collection of "haunted homes".  I truly believe it adds fun for the children as they trick or treat, but it also gives the adults a way to enjoy their walks as well.

Share Your Halloween Decorations With Us Here on Review This!

I've given you a look at some of my favorite Halloween outdoor decorations and I would love to hear about your favorites.  Even better, I would love to see them!

If you have published an article online featuring your Halloween outdoor decorations, I welcome you to join the fun here by adding your articles link in our guestbook below for all of us to sit back and enjoy your review. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tips for Fall Photography

This week I'd like to share with you some of my tips on fall photography.

  • Use a Polarizing Filter
If you have never used  a polarizing filter on your camera you will be amazed by the results.  Think about how fall colors look to you when you put on your sunglasses.  The tint in the glasses filters out some of the suns rays and what you see are strikingly more brilliant colors.  The same concept is what happens when you put a polarizing filter on your camera.

Be sure to buy one of the circular polarizing filters so that you can adjust the amount of light you are filtering out.  I have one for my SLR camera and I also have a polarizing filter to fit my Canon point and shoot camera.

The photo at the left is a tree in a nearby park that I photographed with the polarizing filter on my camera.

  • Go to a Botanical Gardens   If you have a favorite garden in your hometown be sure to visit it in the fall.  Most gardens have special displays for the fall and it is a great place to take photos.  I love the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.  Here is a hubpage I wrote on the garden in the fall. Autumn at Missouri Botanical Garden  The photo below shows a scene from last fall at the garden.

  • A Farmers Market is a Great Place for Fall Photos   I like to stop by my local farmers  market and photograph the produce in the fall.  The bins of apples, pumpkins and ghourds always make great photographs and many of the markets have special fall displays.

  • Don't forget to include children doing fall activities in your photos.  The pictures below are my granddaughters enjoying the pumpkins in the fall.

  • Get in close for some interesting photos.  Leaves are often hard to photograph in the fall because when you look at them up close you find they have a lot of wear and tear from the year,  Be sure to look for some that are not too beat up and then zoom in close.

  • My top tip for fall photography is enjoy yourself.  Have fun with your camera, enjoy the scenery and relax and you will capture some outstanding shots!
View more of my photographs of fall at Autumn Art

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recycle It Right and Keep Trash Out of Our Oceans

Make Every Day a Coastal Cleanup Day

Every year in September, communities around the world band together to pick up trash. They're not just picking up trash for the sake of picking up trash. They're picking up trash to keep our oceans clean and safe for marine animals. And, they're cleaning up the environment for a better future for all humanity.

For the past 29 years, the Ocean Conservancy has hosted the International Coastal Cleanup. And what a success it is. In 2013, over 648,000 volunteers in 92 countries collected over 12 million pounds of garbage by walking 12,459 miles of shorelines and searching 455 miles of water. The numbers aren't in for 2014 just yet.

What kind of garbage did they find? 

At the top of the list are cigarette butts, food wrappers from potato chips and candy bars, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and straws.

Stuff that people use every day. Items that would be so easy to toss in a waste receptacle or in a recycle bin. Things that could be eliminated from our environment.

I went on a search for ways to reduce and reuse some of the common garbage items found floating in our oceans and littering our coastlines. Junk food wrappers, plastic bottles, and bottle caps can be the inspiration for a craft project. And, disposable items are easily swapped out with sustainable and reusable goods.

Need some ideas?

Halloween is almost here and the perfect opportunity to rummage through the recycle bin for some scary decorations. Make a Mad Hatter Mini Top Hat with an old plastic cup and a damaged CD.

Plastic straws are so uncool. If you want to be the coolest kid on the block, get a set of Plastic Free Glass Drinking Straws for you and your friends.

Bottled water may be one of the biggest plastic garbage producers that our oceans see. Instead of buying bottled water, bottle your own and carry a Reusable Water Bottle.

Confused about recycling? 

The first step to keeping waste out of our oceans is to practice recycling the right way. Every community has different recycling programs, but there are some basic recycling rules that everyone follows. Print out this Recycling Decoder from the Ocean Conservancy. Post it on your refrigerator. Fold it up and keep it in your wallet or purse. Keep it handy for when you need it.

Want to get involved?

Start by Learning the Basics of Marine Debris. The Marine Debris program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a wealth of educational resources. You'll find information on the types of waste found in our oceans, where it comes from, its impact on wildlife, how it affects the world economy, and solutions to this worldwide problem.

Then, organize a cleanup day in your neighborhood.
I hope you'll join us in keeping our world Clean and Beautiful.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Completely Chocolate and Coffee

For those of you who don't know, I am passionate about chocolate. In fact, I'm also the chocoholic contributor here on Review This. So it makes perfect sense that I would review a site devoted just to chocolate.

Completely Chocolate Site

Since we can never have too much chocolate, well in my view anyway, Completely Chocolate is an ideal way to share this passion. Of course, we can be talking about just the confection itself. But, there's plenty more.  (

If you didn't know, there are great health benefits to dark chocolate. Which is covered for all of us to read and learn more. How dark chocolate works to our benefit, some of those numerous benefits, even how much we should be eating. All pulled together on one page. I like that.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

How about a chocolate party? That's covered, too. Don't forget recipes. There just aren't enough ways to use chocolate in desserts. What about putting together your own recipe book? Just for chocolate treats and desserts, of course. That's included as well. Completely Chocolate is just that, completely chocolate!

What Goes Better with Chocolate than Coffee?

There is even a site devoted just to coffee. Now, we are talking about my favorite combination. Koffee Kingdom goes deep into the world of everything coffee. And I do mean everything. From roasting beans and how that affects flavor to the perfect Halloween coffee mugs. You can even find coffee themed home decor.
Coffee and chocolate.

My perfect kitchen is loaded with both chocolate decor and now coffee decor. And, yes, my favorite coffee flavor is chocolate.

So grab a cup of your favorite coffee, add a dash of chocolate and browse around these sites. You might just find the answer to that nagging question - what are the Review This Chocolate Contributor's favorite places on the Web? And we all want the answer to that!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Monday, September 22, 2014

Horsin' Around in Historic Maryland Horse Country

As a young, horse-crazy girl growing up in the midwest, I loved horses and everything about them. I spent my days riding and many of my nights watching the stars, reclined on their bare backs while they munched their hay.   Don't tell anyone, but there were times that I sat in the barn to do my homework.  Somehow, math was slightly more palatable if I did it near the horses. 

Horses Looking Over Fence at Alfred Vanderbilt's Farm by Jerry Cooke
At one point, I had a wonderful black and white pinto pony. He was my best friend for as long as we owned him.  One day, he and I were meandering down a lonely dirt road.  A herd of deer were just off the edge of the road.  Somehow we had managed to walk right up to them, too close for their comfort, so they picked up their good-bye flag tails and waved as they slowly bounded off into the woods.  

My pony's ears perked and he stepped toward them. To this day, I can't tell  you who wanted to go more, but I gave him his head and clucked with my tongue. Off he went, following those deer through the woods.  There wasn't thick undergrowth, thank goodness, as he sped through the woods trying to join those deer.  I hung on, crouched low and clinging to his bare bare back, one hand wrapped in his thick mane. I only concentrated at not letting myself get scraped off by a tree.  At one point, he jumped a very large downed tree trunk. We moved as one being and I felt as though we were flying.  Clearly, the deer were long gone and we would never catch up. But for a moment, we were running, jumping, and flying along.  From that moment on, I had a great appreciation for the machine that is horse and how amazing it is that they can jump like they do.

From my livingroom, I would watch the Olympic equestrian events when they were televised and I would watch the triple crown races. All of those things seems so fantastical.  Clearly, horses also existed in other parts of the world, but my world consisted of my backyard ponies.  Racehorses, horses and hounds, and hooved Olympic athletes seemed like fairy tales.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that horses are more than back yard companions to little girls.  As an adult living in the mid-Atlantic, I can enjoy the deep history of horses in Maryland. 

Just a handful of the big-ticket horse attractions are:
In addition to those things, there are many opportunities to witness horse shows, expos, and events here.  A few years ago, I got to see a jumping event with Olympic riders participating. That was quite a thrill. But so far, my very favorite horse related event has been the Shawan Downs Legacy Chase.

There is a 300 acre piece of farm land near Hunt Valley, Maryland, that was purchased by the Land Preservation Trust to preserve the non-residential use of the land.  Since that purchase, it has been "Re-branded as Shawan Downs, the property has grown into a first-class equestrian center and steeplechase course." 

Man Riding Horse in a Steeplechase by Eric Horan
The Shawan Downs Legacy Chase is a steeplechase event, to benefit GBMC Healthcare. This year, it is being held on Saturday, September 27th.  I attended a few years ago and hope to return this year.  Picnicking and spending the day on the rolling, green grounds is reason enough to go.  Watching these amazing horses over fences at full speed is thrilling.  The flying hooves, churning up clods of ground, flying over the obstacles as though they have wings is something I'll never forget.  Between races there is plenty to see.  The year I attended, there were groups of spectators in period attire as well as some antique cars.  I truly felt as though I had been transported to decades prior. 

If you hope to attend horse events in Maryland, or if you are in the area on Saturday, I highly recommend that you attend this benefit event.  The Shawan Downs Legacy Chase is not something you would soon forget.  Bring a comfy blanket, your camera, and a good bottle of wine.  

Written by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dirt, by Florida Georgia Line - The Best Song in Country Music!

Dirt by Florida Georgia Line on Amazon
I may be the biggest fan of this riveting country song by Florida Georgia Line called 'Dirt'. Well,  maybe not the biggest, because as I predicted, the song hit number 1 in both Canada and the US on the Hot Country Billboard Charts. No surprise; right now I'm calling it the best overall country song in the history of country music. Now how's that for being a big fan!

What makes this song unbeatable is the artistic amalgamation of every contributing aspect needed to achieve a winning country song; the video, music, lyrics, and most of all the story. However it's the video that will take you into the depth of it's meaning to show you the message.

I'm such a huge fan of the story and lyrics, that I also penned another personal review here about it, as well as featured it numerous times on the Country Music Fan Review Facebook Page: Can you tell I'm a fan yet?

I'm sure my neighbors hear me blast it on my TV when it's on CMT's Top 20!

The Story of 'Dirt' by Florida Georgia Line

The song begins with an elderly man and his  family about to say their goodbyes to their wife/mother/grandmother at her grave on their property, the same property they all built a beautiful life on. The video floats between their youth and the gut wrenching  goodbye.

The Impact of the Song on Those Who are Older

Both my husband and I have shed tears watching this video. The younger generation may not feel the impact of this song as much as we do, but at our stage in life, the song is very real. The first time I played it for my husband, I turned around to look at him, and he had a tear rolling down his face. Having recently lost my father, the lyric ' know you came from it, and one day you'll return it...' hits hard.

Originally the band didn't want to include the above line in the song as they felt it was cliche, but in my opinion it's the line that ties together the entire story of 'Dirt'

Another head turning lyric is 'Makes you wanna a build a 10 percent down, white picket fence house on this Dirt' - The first time I heard the song I was walking into my bedroom; the TV was tuned to the country music channel, and while sitting at my desk I hear this lyric, turn my head and am completely drawn into the story from beginning to end.

The story of the life of this couple is symbolically delivered through the well written lyrics and music by Rodney Clawson and Chris Tompkins:
"It’s that elm shade, red rust clay you grew up on
That plowed-up ground that your dad damned his luck on
That post-game party field you circle up on
And when it rains you get stuck on
Drift a cloud back behind county roads that you run up
The mud on her jeans that she peeled off and hung up
Her blue-eyed summertime smile looks so good that it hurts
Makes you wanna build a ten percent down white picket fence house on this dirt"
Another reason I find myself drawn to the song is watching the young duo from Florida Georgia Line, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard play their guitars in the video. They remind me of my second son, especially with the Tattoos on the arm, who's also in a band and plays guitar. Watching these young men sing a song that represents the story of an elderly man and his lifetime with his family moves me tremendously; I remember being 21 years old, and just starting out with my husband like it was yesterday, and in a blink our boys are grown young men.

Life colors itself very differently when you're older. Our greatest joy is hugging our boys, no matter how tall they get. And like this elderly man, reflecting upon what's been built, the love of each other and family, is what, in the end, matters most.

Take a Few Minutes and Don't Miss This Song! It's Worth Your Time - Give Special Attention to the  Lyrics and Video; Magnificent:

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fall Teapots Under Review

Fall is always a great time to add different colors and shapes to your world. The beautiful colors and shapes of Autumn are available as teapots. So, of course, I want to have several in my own home.

But, lets not forget Halloween as part of the fun of Fall. And Halloween teapots are a definite fun thing to have around the house. So, it's time to get a review of some of my favorite Fall and Halloween teapots.

Halloween Teapots:

Pumpkin shapes and the colors that go with them are ideal for Fall or even Halloween. The bright
reds, oranges, yellows and browns are those beautiful colors that we associate with Autumn leaves. This makes the orange pumpkin one of the great choices.

Halloween teapots can be as eerie and creepy as possible, with zombies, skeletons, maybe ghosts, but they can also be delightful and charming with smiling candy corn, happy black cats, even dancing skeletons. Some years, I look to the fun side of Halloween, while other years it's the spooky side.

No matter which side of Halloween you prefer, a teapot to match the season can be a fun addition. Or go straight for the beauty of Fall with pumpkin teapots or those in colors of reds, oranges, yellows.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ideas for Fall Photography

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to take photos.  I love the way the colors are so bright and cheery and there are so many wonderful items to photograph.  On this page I will give you some ideas of items to photograph in the fall.

One of my favorite subjects is the beautiful fall colors reflected in water.  This photo was taken at a friends farm in mid Missouri.  The colors were beautiful on the hillside by the lake and in late afternoon I was able to catch the reflections.

Landscape scenes are beautiful in the fall, but you will also want to take the time to photograph some items up close.  In this photo I was taking an early morning walk in the woods in Minnesota and I stopped and zoomed in on these bright red leaves with drops of morning dew still on them.

Fall flowers make great subjects.  In this  photo fellow blogger, Sylvestermouse captured a beautiful bouquet of fall flowers.

Fall Floral Post Cards
Fall Floral Post Cards by Sylvestermouse
Create a full color post card on Zazzle
Pumpkins and fall decorations make great photos.  Here is a photo I took of a pumpkin display in Old Quebec city.

For more ideas on items to photograph in the fall here are a couple of hub pages I wrote on fall photography.
Fall is in the air here in Missouri and I'm anxiously awaiting the fall colors.  Wherever you are I wish you  much success in your fall photography!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Monday, September 15, 2014

Poe, The Raven, and Walking with Ghosts

As the mornings turn chill and breezy in the mid-Atlantic, I find myself thinking that it won't be long until the leaves on the trees change color.  Dying and rattling like miniature bones in the trees, before being dropped to the ground to crunch under our feet.
The Raven

In addition to noting the change of season, I have spent some time reading wonderful blogs and articles about costumes for the fast-approaching All Hallows' Eve. While I have really never been one to dress up for Halloween, I do love the focus on ghosts, spirits, and things that frighten.  I'm not sure why. But I like curling up with a good, scary book and listening for things that go bump in the night.  This year I have thought about ordering a few new decorations.  During that search for decorations, I have run across more than one Raven themed item.

I am referring to the bird that Poe made frightening in his writings.  As I pondered Edgar Allan Poe and his ominous bird I realized how many opportunities for ghostly travel destinations there are in this region.  There are far too many to list in one article, so I will only share a few.

I will begin with the Baltimore Edgar Allan Poe house. Instead of telling you about it, I will show you this three minute tour of the area and the house:

Yes, Poe lived in many places throughout the mid-Atlantic and north east regions.  But he lived in this row house for a bit and eventually passed away while in Baltimore.  He is buried locally.  The Baltimore Poe House has had difficulty remaining open due to funding, location of the home (in a difficult section of town and off the tourist path). It is currently open to the public on weekends. Thank you mnolanporter for this video glimpse of the home and the surrounding area.  After watching the video late last night, I read Poe's short story Berenice. That short and morbid story put me in the mood for more scary stories.  

Are you in the ghostly mood yet?  Do you enjoy ghost walk tours?  I am and I do.  Here are three highly recommended places to walk with ghosts:

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a small town with many reasons to visit; history, architecture, and a stopping spot for the hikers of the Appalachian Trail.  I love visiting for the day.  When I stay for a longer period of time, I will take the highly recommended Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is another  popular West Virginia haunted spot to visit. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum appears to be a bucket list item for folks who are interested in old architecture, Civil War history, mental health history, and ghosts and the paranormal. I'd love to see the building on the outside, but I'm not sure that I'm brave enough to see the inside in person.

Ghettysburg, Pennsylvania.  It is impossible to know where to begin when talking about the plethora of civil war history, old architecture, monuments, and ghost tours when talking about Ghettysburg. Instead, I'll just leave you with a list of the large variety of area ghost tours

Whether you are in the mid-Atlantic or elsewhere, I hope you are able to celebrate the season, however you celebrate, in spooktacular fashion. 

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stop for Me, by Carolyn Dawn Johnson - 'I Always Thought This Train Would Stop For Me'

Stop for Me, by Carolyn Dawn Johnson
Upstairs just finishing up some of those much 'loved' household chores with the country music channel playing in the background, I hear these heartbreaking lyrics:
"I had big plans
More powerful than a locomotive
Innocent as a flower growing
In the middle of a barley field
I didn't understand
That you could have pockets overflowing with determination
Give it all you got with no congratulations
And still be at the bottom of the hill
Waiting at the station
With the rails laid out before me
Trying to be patient
Hoping it didn't leave"
I stopped for this song:

Quietly I perched myself on the edge of my bed, and stared at my TV. The
Country Music Fan Reviews on Facebook
melancholy words cried their way off the screen and I found myself shedding tears for anyone, myself included, who had moments of  doubt that their work, their dreams, their songs ... all of it..would land in that giant void of 'so what'.

Life is flying by and we have such a short time to leave our mark, no matter what that mark is, our time is limited.

The lyrics continued, and the message of this song, which I further expand upon here, brought about conflicted feelings of  'in the end, we all get to where we're going' to 'it hasn't been easy getting there'
"I had a ticket
That was paid for with my hard earned money
I thought that maybe that would count for something
Wasn't looking for a free ride
But nobody mentioned
ohhh sometimes all the passenger seats are taken
The cars are full and it's a rude awakening
When you're left behind
So disappointed... yeah
I never even got to try
Instead of living in the moment... ohhh

I've been wasting all this time
I always thought this train would stop for me..."
The journey is where we find the joy, but we all know the journey isn't always easy. It isn't about adulation, accolades, fame, or even money (although let's face it, money is a necessary part of life) - It's about 'our contribution while we're here'. If we can do something to improve the human condition, we're making a contribution: A smile, a blessing, seeking hope, laughter, a hand-up to someone who needs it ... anything where we're impacting something or someone for the positive.

During a recent conversation with my 22 year old son, in typical mom fashion, there I was emphasizing the importance to encourage good in this world; he's in a local band 'ColdFront' ...and he's in a position to affect people with words. Being 'Mom', I never hesitate to point that out!

When I talk to my sons, I'm reminded just how young they are, and all they have to learn and go through. My biggest hope is that when they're sitting on the edge of their bed 30 years from now, and lyrics like this song begin to play, they can smile knowing the words don't apply to them.

In the end, I do believe we all get to where we need to be, and that no matter how difficult our path becomes, we'll be O.K.  Everyday we wake up, is another chance at life, another shot at getting it right to fulfill our purpose.

So, although this song is a little bit sad, it's a reminder that nothing is permanent, even sadness. As the famous quote says, 'Without the Rain, there Would be no Rainbow'

Here it is: 'Stop for Me'

To Your Success,
By Barbara Tremblay Cipak, Country Music Reviewer - 'Don't Drive Alone Get Emotional Daily Assistance'

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reviewing the World of Zombies for Halloween

No way can I resist talking about zombies when it comes time for Halloween planning. That creepy world of the undead fits so well with a party at the end of October. So lets review some of the great options for planning Halloween around zombies.

Zombie Costume Planning

Starting off with my costume is a natural for me. When I know what crazy costume I want, that typically leads to my Halloween party theme. So this year's fun will be all around zombies.

It's pretty easy to buy a great zombie costume for women, men or children. Not only do all the brick and mortar stores carry costumes, but all the online shops do as well. But, I always seem to go way further than the typical ready-made costumes.

So then it's off to find all the extras to make my zombie look truly undead. In effect, I create my own zombie costume, even if I start with the basics.

Adding the Extras

It's the makeup, the hair and the accessories that can go that extra mile. Then I find this great page showing lace collars. You may not think of lace collars for a zombie, but as an undead bride or prom queen, you want those jewelry effects as well. The black and red vampire collar is ideal for a zombie.

Of course, I really can't be a zombie without the gory wounds that caused my death. I found a great set of plastic wounds. They just stick on so all you need to do is add some fake blood around them to make it look realistic.

Plan for Halloween Early

I always recommend that you plan for Halloween, costumes and parties, early. Waiting til the last minute can easily mean settling for what you really don't want just because all the good stuff is sold out. But, there's more. If you discover that you need to return something, you still have time. Planning early means no disappointments for you, your children, even your party guests.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Friday, September 12, 2014

Fun Halloween Home Decor

 Halloween 2-Pack Towels SetLast week, I shared How to Make a Halloween Pizza.  This week, I want to share how to add a bit of Halloween fun throughout your home.

Halloween has always been a fun holiday at our home.   Part of the fun is surrounding ourselves with Halloween items.  I like to spread the holiday fun to all of the rooms in our home.  I usually start by adding Halloween hand towels in each bathroom.  It is always delightful to hear one of our children yell from behind the bathroom door about how much the love the new bat or ghost towel.

Halloween Decor for the Bathroom

Gifts & Decor 12608 Spooky Toilet Paper Holder MulticolorGifts & Decor 12608 Spooky Toilet Paper Holder MulticolorCheck PriceSeveral of my friends really do go all out in their bathroom decorations.  

Buckhawk, one of my fellow contributors here on Review This, immediately comes to mind when I think of Halloween Bathroom Decorations.  

I don't know how many times I have howled over the years at her Halloween Bathroom Decor and antics.  Some of the ideas and suggestions Buckhawk suggests are downright eerie for those who love the creepy side of Halloween, but I personally love all of the funny stuff she recommends.

Halloween Decor for the Bedroom

I also change the bedsheets in our house.

This is probably our son's favorite part of our Halloween home decor.  I love putting Halloween Sheets and Bed Linens on our beds simply because my family gets such a kick out of them.  

I especially like the ones that seem to glow in the dark because of their high contrast of black and white.  You can see some of my favorite Halloween Bed Linen Sets by simply clicking here.

Halloween Decor for the Den or Entry

I also rely on my friend and co-writer, DecoratingforEvents, to come up with more great ideas for decorating for Halloween throughout the other rooms of our home.  Some of her suggestions really knock me off my feet, especially when they are so fast, easy and awesome!

I know you will want to check out Mandee's great recommendations by visiting her at Halloween Haven. 

Do you have an article you have published on your favorite Halloween Decoration?  We would all love to see it.  Please leave the link to your article in our guestbook below.  I will be happy to "haunt" your Halloween home decor suggestions. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Photographing Special Family Events

Have you been to a family reunion or other special family event where you want to get some great photos to document the event.  Yes, everyone takes photos, but to really get some good ones you need to do a bit of pre planning.  Last weekend we had a family reunion at Table Rock Lake.  On this page I will share with you some of the photos and the tips I used in capturing them.

The Group  Photo

It is great to get a photo of the entire group.  We had 29 people in our group and I wanted to get them in to a group photo.  Here are some of the tips that I used.
  • Use a tripod and set your timer on your camera..that way you  can be in the photo too.
  • Before you gather everyone together first try out a few shots with a smaller group to make sure where you want to place your camera.
  • Take the time to arrange everyone in an eye pleasing arrangement.  I first had everyone standing with the tallest in the back.  But as you can see here that was not as appealing as when I had some sitting and some kneeling.

Take some Smaller Group Shots

I took photos of several groups: the siblings, the cousins, the grandchildren and individual family groups. Be sure to include both serious and fun shots.  The cousins had a fun pose they had done 10 years ago at a wedding so I had them do that again.  

Candid Shots

You will want to include photos of people participating in activities and also of people just sitting around and visiting.  Some tips to remember.
  • Watch your want to be able to see the faces
  • Be careful not to snap shots of the backs of people
  • Try to make sure everyone is included in a couple of shots
  • Capture the activities that everyone is enjoying
  • Have someone snap a photo of you...after all you were there too

Be sure to Include Photos of Your Location

You will want to include some photos of the location where you held the event.  I walked around the property and took photos of the cabins we stayed at, the boat docks, the swimming area, the meeting area, and the playground.  I also went down to the lake at sunset to capture some images of the sun setting and the beautiful clouds over the lake.

Consider Making an Online Photo Book

When you get home from your outing consider making an online photo book.  You can share the book with all of the people from your event and they can choose whether or not to order it in paper form.  I like to use the service of Shutterfly .  They have an easy to follow program to help you put all of your memories into a book.  They also have various sizes that you can order.  Here are some tips to use in getting ready to make your photo book.
  • First you will want to download all of your photos into your computer
  • Next you will want to determine which ones would work best for your book and do whatever editing is needed for those photos.  I started out with 287 photos and narrowed that down to about 80 that I used in the book.
  • The next step I do is to  make a folder on my desktop of the photos I want to use in the book
  • I then download these photos into the Shutterfly program and follow their instructions to make my photo book.
Here is a copy of the book that I made.
Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

I hope these tips have helped you and that you will capture some wonderful  memories from your next reunion or event.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

Re-use your food and stretch your food budget

Volunteers load a truckload of oranges
for local f
ood banks and pantries.
Learn how to donate at
Wasted food is wasted money. Every time edible food is thrown in the garbage can, a few pennies get thrown away with it. Get more bang out of your grocery budget by reducing the amount of food you throw out. And, when you have extra food that you just can't use, donate to your local food bank.

This morning I sat for a few minutes and watched the Food Waste Ticker at The ticker showed that over 91 billion pounds of food have been wasted in the U.S. since the beginning of 2014. For every second that ticked by, I saw another 200 pounds of food being sent to our municipal landfills.

In February, 2014, the USDA released a report showing The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States. The report shows that in 2010, the US produced 430 billion pounds of food. Of this available food supply, 31 percent went uneaten. Think about the impact of this unnecessary food waste.
  • A total of 133 billion pounds of wasted food was sent to municipal waste facilities. Landfills collected over $2 billion from taxpayers and consumers to dispose of this food waste. 
  • If you purchased this 133 billion pounds of food from a grocery store, it would cost $161.6 billion.
  • It's not just money that is wasted. This 133 billion pounds of food waste coverts to 141 trillion calories. That's enough food to supply each person in the US with 1,249 calories of energy per day.

What can you do to prevent food waste?

Start in your own kitchen. There are many ways to get the most value out of the groceries you buy.
  • Look in your refrigerator before heading to the store for a quick dinner. Find ways to cook what you already have at home. The longer it sits in your pantry, the more likely it is that the food will go to waste.
  • Plan your meals before you go shopping and make a shopping list. When you're at the grocery store, only buy those items on your list. Resist the urge to impulse buy.
  • Don't buy more than you need. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
  • Reuse food scraps. Fruit skins can be turned into pickles and jellies. Vegetable peelings make a tasty vegetable soup stock. Stale bread can be used to make croutons.
  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are abundant during harvest season. Stock up on your favorites.

Our Favorite Food Saving Tips

It's 3 p.m. and your family asks, "What's for dinner?" If you haven't thought ahead, take a quick inventory of the food in your pantry and refrigerator. Even if you don't have the right ingredients for your favorite dish, it's always possible to substitute. Ruthi uses whatever leftovers she has in the refrigerator for a Chicken Not Quite Paella Surprise Recipe.

Winter will be here soon and that means soup season is just around the corner. Around our house, there's always a quart of homemade vegetable soup stock in the freezer and a quart of vegetable peelings waiting to be cooked into stock. We save so much money when we Recycle Food Waste and Make Soup Stock.

When our favorite fruits are in season, we buy extra to freeze. Frozen fruits are are perfect for smoothies and ice creams. On the FoodFAQs blog, Regg and I share directions for how we freeze fruits without adding any extra sugar.

End Food Waste and Stop Hunger

Do you have food to spare? Not everyone is so fortunate. In 2012, 15.9 million children lived in food insecure households, homes where there is not enough nutritious foods for those children to grow up strong and healthy. Donate your excess food to your Local Food Bank.

Please help put an end to food waste.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review This!: Getting Ready for a Wonderful Winter with the Birds!

Review This!: Getting Ready for a Wonderful Winter with the Birds!

I'd love to share some of what I love to do in the winter months.  That of course is feeding and then watching the birds!  Some of the antics that happen at the feeders has me chuckling  for days afterwards.  I think maybe I should set up a camera and film the goings on!  There just might be a YouTube sensation happening there.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Getting Ready for a Wonderful Winter with the Birds!

The year is very quickly coming to an abrupt halt!  What I mean of course is the summer of 2014!  It seems like just yesterday when we were all out in our gardens looking for signs of life after a winter that left most of us feeling very, very cold.

Because last years winter was so cold, I decided it's time to review what we should be doing to help our little feathered friends make it through another winter season, so that when it is finished, they can herald in the spring of 2015!

Keeping the birds happy through the winter months really isn't too difficult.  Just make sure that if you start a routine of feeding the birds, please continue it throughout the whole year.  Many people don't believe in feeding the birds, they are of the mind that there is plenty out there for them already.

I personally think, that if I feed the birds, they will know that my yard is the one that they should keep on their radar, because I like them so much, I will do whatever it takes to keep them coming back!

So without further adieu, I'd like to present some reading material that you should find interesting and helpful.  Hopefully it will result in you making the effort to see what you can see, when you put out some food for the birds.
The Best Bird Feeders Ever

And then when you are at a comfort level with that kind of bird feeder, there are always some Suet Feeders and Suet Cakes to make for our feathered friends.  Here you will find a basic recipe for Suet cakes, and lots of additional items for your special little friends.

Super-Easy-Suet-Cakes-for-Winter-Bird Feeding

The hope is that with more people feeding the birds through the year, we will have a great time seeing and watching our native birds, even as they entertain us through the coldest months of the year.

Hope you are on board to enjoying just a little bit of Mother Nature's gifts to us.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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