Showing posts with label Dawn Rae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dawn Rae. Show all posts

Monday, January 17, 2022

Movie Review: Harriet

During certain U.S holidays, I make an effort to learn more about the people or situations behind those holidays. With Martin Luther King Jr Day approaching I decided to sit down and finally watch Harriet. When it comes to thinking of civil rights and the battle for equality, I always find myself thinking of Harriet Tubman and her epic walk to freedom. I am astounded that a woman, a slave woman, walked from the marshes of Dorchester County, Maryland to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "I left my husband and family, there's just me and the Lord" she says to William Still up her arrival in Philadelphia. He replies, "I don't know if you know how extraordinary this is, but by some miraculous means you have made it 100 miles to freedom. All by yourself." But it doesn't seem that Harriet felt alone. She had already proclaimed that "I walk with the Lord". 



I am glad that I made the time to watch the movie Harriet and I recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about this one woman who was literally willing to go to great lengths to make sure she gained her freedom.

Harriet the Movie

Harriet was released in 2019 and stars Cynthia Erivo. Cynthia plays Araminta "Minty" Ross, a slave owned by the Brodess farm family in Dorchester County, Maryland. As a slave, she married John Tubman (a free black man). The movie begins as John presents a letter from a lawyer to Mr. Brodess, stating that legally, Minty's mother was to be released from slavery at age 45. And therefore, they are asking for Minty to be freed so that they can raise their family without fear of their children being sold. That conversation, of course, goes badly. From that point, we watch as things become increasingly difficult. Minty and the fictional Brodess son, Gideon, have a complicated relationship - having been raised together but in the role of slave owner and slave. The farm is facing financial difficulty. And Mr. Brodess dies, leaving the decisions of the farm to his wife and son.

After the death of his father, Gideon posts flyers for the sale of Minty. And she runs. Minty is given one name and location after another along the underground railroad and she flees, narrowly missing being caught. At one point, she jumps from a bridge into a river after stating that she was going to "be free or die". Everyone believes she drowned. But miraculously, she continues on. 

At one point, near the Pennsylvania border, Thomas Garrett is one of the angels along the way. "May I help thee Friend?" he asks her. Although brief, I am glad that one of the characters depicted was of Quaker background. Quakers played a very important role in the success of the underground railroad and I am not sure that is well-known information. It is astounding to me in light of the risks (physical, legal) involved when helping slaves escape during the days of the Fugitive Slave Act that such a peaceful group of people would help others. But they did. Peacefully, they helped free many enslaved people.

After Minty arrives in Philadelphia she is helped by William Still and others. She takes the free name of Harriet Tubman. Harriet obtains a paying job and is living free in Philadelphia. Her story could end there but she feels she can't live fully without her husband and family. 

Harriet returns to Dorchester County to get her husband to come with her. During that trip is when she begins helping other slaves to freedom. She becomes so good at it that advertisements are hung announcing "Moses" the slave stealer and everyone is trying to catch Moses. Some believe Moses is a man in black face. Imagine the surprise when they find that it is the drowned Minty who is stealing their slaves.

Of course, the fight for freedom and stealing slaves is not an easy thing. There is some conflict, physical or emotional, at every turn.

My Personal Thoughts of Harriet the Movie

I think part of the reason I hadn't watched this movie sooner is because I didn't want to ruin some of the images I already had of Harriet Tubman in my head. Sometimes I prefer my imaginings and Hollywood's version isn't the version I want to see. As a young girl, I was amazed that a woman would walk to freedom. As an adult, visiting Dorchester County, I was amazed that a woman would walk through that marshy area to freedom. I was once visiting the area around Fishing Bay, Maryland during a tropical storm. The rain was falling in sheets off and on the entire day. The wet marshes were even more full of water and water was across the roads. And that was the first time I realized that I was in the area where Harriet Tubman (I didn't yet know that wasn't her birth name) was born and raised. We passed a historical marker along a country road. Despite the rain we stopped to read the sign. Off across the field, barely visible through the rain, was a small cabin. The marker listed it as a Harriet Tubman home.

photo by Dawn Rae

Currently, if you travel to that general area, you'll find the Harriet Tubman Museum that was completed in 2019.  It is a small museum but worth the visit in my opinion. And you can drive the Harriet Tubman Byway - a driving tour with many sites related to Harriet Tubman's life.

This movie was not filmed in Dorchester County. I was a bit disappointed about that fact. Hiking 100 miles is a huge feat but walking 100 miles through marshy areas is terrifying to me (I have a great fear of snakes). Also, the movie was an abbreviated depiction of her life. I'm sure it was not easy to pack a lifetime worth of information into a two hour and five minute movie. I would have loved this movie to have been mini-series length. Despite those two things, I enjoyed this moving very much. I loved watching Ms. Erivo as Minty. I think she was perfect for the role. The singing was touching and perfect for the setting. I enjoyed Erivo's voice immensely. 

It will never be determined whether Harriet's head injury (being hit in the head by an overseer) led to her "spells", whether she had a neurological disorder such as seizures, or whether she fell out when God gave her visions, but it is clear that she had an unshakable faith. And she saved lives through that faith. Harriet Tubman was pretty amazing and I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to get a more clear idea of who she was and what she was able to do with her life.

Finally, I rented Harriet for $1.99 on Amazon Prime and watched the movie twice (once for each day of the rental). I don't think you can beat that price for good entertainment. I highly recommend an Amazon Prime membership for good deals on movies and books among other benefits.

find your copy on Amazon





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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, January 3, 2022

Book Review: The Borrowed World by Franklin Horton

I recently binge-read an entire 9 book series: The Borrowed World series by Franklin Horton.  I have since read several unrelated books and none have captured my attention and absorbed me into the setting as this story did. I still wish the visit with Jim Powell, his family, and his community had not ended. 

Book Review: The Borrowed World by Franklin Horton


The Borrowed World (a Post-Apocalyptic Societal Collapse Thriller)

The story opens with a man, a terrorist living in the US, and the moment that the next plan to terrorize the country becomes a viable thought while watching a television documentary about the nation's failing infrastructure.

"The surgeon recalled the attacks of September 11th. He envisioned a broader attack. Something with more men and lasting devastation. Something more visceral and less flashy"  - excerpt from The Borrowed World

During the first few chapters, the reader observes the work of the terrorists; how they destroy important sites across the United States including the Alaskan pipeline, Wolf Creek Dam, multiple refineries, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Transformers at power stations were also destroyed. Power, communication, and transportation systems immediately failed. Law enforcement and medical services failed soon after.  The nation was completely changed from that day forward. 

Jim Powell is the main character. He lives and works in southwestern Virginia and frequently travels to Richmond with his co-workers. He and five of his co-workers were in Richmond when the attack occurred.  Jim woke in the hotel without power and his phone only partially worked, showing a pixelated headline stating "America, Nation Under Attack". He attempted to call home but received only the recording that the circuits were busy.

Jim's co-workers in Richmond are Gary, Lois, Alice, Randi, and Rebecca. At work, Jim is abrupt and abrasive. He and Lois tend to butt heads on a typical day. Their opposite opinions continue into this emergency situation. Jim wants to return home immediately. Some of his co-workers, Lois included, want to stay where they are and see what happens. 

They decide to drive home as a group but immediately run into one dangerous situation after the next.  These situations included difficulty getting gas, violence in the rest areas, and travelers being unwelcomed in the small towns along the interstates.

Jim is a prepper and has a "Get Home Bag" (similar to a "Bug Out bag if you've heard of them. However, Jim's Get Home Bag is full of items to help him return home rather than leave home in the event of an emergency). Gary has a similar bag. When they are unable to continue their trip via car some of the group decides to walk home, using the Appalachian Trail for a portion of the journey, while some of the group decides to wait for the promised help from the Government to first move them from the rest areas to a camp and later transported to their hometowns.

The chapters switch between the experiences of the part of the group who decided to walk home and the experiences of the part of the group who decided to wait for transportation at a camp.

Meanwhile, Jim's wife Ellen is at home with their two children. She is doing the best she can to follow the things Jim taught her about being prepared while keeping her family safe from those who come to steal their food and possessions.

Reasons Why I Loved This Story and Read the Entire Series

It was immediately obvious that Jim was one of those characters who is flawed. Maybe not even likeable to some. But I couldn't help but root him on... hoping he got home quickly for the sake of his wife and children. But quickly is relative when you are talking about walking across the state of Virginia. The other characters were each unique and their voices were clearly their own. I never had to pause to try to remember who was who.  It was very interesting to see how each individual made their choices. I fell in love with Randi and Gary and hoped for their safe travels. I forgave Jim for his abrasive rule-breaking and was pleased for his sake that he had broken some of the agency and HR rules.

In addition to the fictional aspect of this story, I enjoyed the informational portions of the book. In the forward the author states:

"During periods of elevated terror alerts and especially during Hurricane Katrina, I thought often about the vulnerability of a person traveling during a national disaster"  

"As a way of passing the time during long drives, I developed 'get home plans' for each trip. Given what I had in my luggage, what avenues of travel would be available to me?"  - Franklin Horton

As a result, he packed differently for trips - including a good pair of walking shoes. Over the years I've observed people (women especially) getting stuck in blizzards and walking through deep snow in flats or heels. Still, I do not tend to keep good walking shoes in my vehicle, but after reading The Borrowed World  I will begin to do so. In addition to shoes, the author clearly has experience with a variety of survival/camping/hiking items.  For example, he spoke of a brand of water filter that would be an excellent addition to my own camping/day hiking items.  His style of "product placement" or product recommendation did not interrupt the flow of the book at all as it was such a part of the story yet provided factual information about his own preferred items. 

This is not a how-to prep book. But it does present much food for thought related to disasters (natural or man-made). This is a story about people trying to survive an extreme terrorist attack that disables life as we know it. It also peeks at the negative view of "preppers" but pulls back the curtain on how vulnerable we all truly are and that it doesn't hurt to be at least a bit prepared for extreme circumstances.

Finally, when I was much younger I read The Stand by Stephen King. That story, especially the beginning description of the pandemic and those trying to survive it, kept me awake reading at night. But later in the book the story started to drift for me as it included more of the dark fantasy. The Borrowed World never drifted for me. It remained in the realm of disasters that could really happen and the possible resulting  struggle over resources. The reality that the food supply is not infinite and starving neighbors can go to great lengths to take your remaining piece of crusty bread is unnerving. I kept turning pages to see if and how the Powell family would survive.

More Reading:

Readers may also enjoy One Second After by William R Forstchen. One Second After is a story about America's power grid going down after an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) weapon was detonated over the US. Previously I thought EMPs were the product of active imaginations. However, I have since learned that it is something that has actually been discussed in Congress and is something that could really occur. In One Second After, families and a community are again trying to survive without electricity, communication, and without a supply of food.  This fictional story kept me interested, but I did not find the individual characters as memorable as Jim Powell et al.




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, December 20, 2021

Birds: Reviewing My Experiences with Window Strikes

 As someone who loves birds, and considers myself a beginner bird-watcher, I was vaguely aware that bird injuries via window strikes is a thing. But it was a distant thought and nothing I concerned myself with. I suppose I imagined that window strikes only occurred in cities with massive buildings, lots of glass, and limited outdoor space. And that only startled birds took flight and flew into buildings in their fright. I am finding that I was wrong about the frequency and locations of window strikes. I thought it important to pass on my experiences to our readers who may also be concerned about the safety of the birds in their communities.



My Own Recent Experiences with Window Strikes Causing Death and Injury

I have recently moved to my new, small home that is located on a mountain ridge and next to a wooden area. Bird-watching is one of my favorite things here and was one reason I chose to locate my house on the property; next to the treeline where the most bird activity occurs. 

My home is small. To take advantage of both natural light and the views, I have a window-door configuration at both ends of my home that in essence creates glass corners.  I love them and consider these to be the highlights of my home.  Unfortunately, I had not known that this window set-up is at high risk for window strikes. 

My first clue was while the house was still under construction. I found a deceased Yellow-billed Cuckoo on a scaffold set up just under my bedroom window (one of the door-window configurations I mentioned earlier). All About Birds by The Cornell Lab states "Yellow-billed Cuckoos are slender, long-tailed birds that manage to stay well hidden in deciduous woodlands" and "Yellow-billed Cuckoos are fairly easy to hear but hard to spot."  How very sad that my first spotting of one of these bashful birds was via a window strike.   Still, I did not expect that there would be more window strikes at my home. I assumed that the Yellow-billed Cuckoo just was taken by surprise by my newly installed windows (installed just that week into openings that had been open for months due to supply chain problems).

Last week, I was sitting in my livingroom, in the corner window area, when a bird strike occurred. The bird was stunned. I was unsure about what to do - intervene and "help" the bird while knowing that typically human intervention with wildlife is often the opposite of helpful or leave it to fend for itself.  While I searched the internet for advice, the bird recovered enough to fly away.  It was then I realized that my home is the problem and not just a one-time problem.



Bird Strikes Information

According to The Cornell Lab's All About Birds, "For birds, glass windows are worse than invisible".  Due to the reflections of the surrounding area, in my case the sky and trees, the birds see an area they'd like to fly into. According to the study they cite (2014) "about 1 billion birds die from window strikes each year". They also report that even birds that appear to be only stunned from the strike and able to fly away are often fatally wounded. Which is not happy news at all. (Read the article in it's entirety here.)

Not only do bird strikes occur during daylight hours when the glass reflects the surroundings (in the case with my home) nighttime strikes occur because the lighted windows divert migrating birds from their route. According to this article dated 2017, it is not fully understood why this happens. More research might find more current information about nocturnal window strikes and migrating birds. At this time, however, I am focused on learning solutions for my windows. As you can see in the photo above, the trees and sky are reflected almost perfectly in the glass. And that is what the birds are seeing and flying into.

Decreasing the Risk of Window Strikes

The short answer for decreasing the risk of window strikes in cases like mine is interrupting the reflection of the sky and trees.  

Window screens.  Both bird strikes occurred on the glass (unscreened) portions of my window/door. Placing screen over the entire windows stops the reflections. This may be an option for me for my windows. But unfortunately, not for my sliding doors.

Interior curtains or blinds. These are definitely options for my bedroom door and window. Those areas could easily remain with closed curtains. However, the bird strike in the livingroom occurred with me sitting near the sliding door and looking out. Even with a curtain over the livingroom slider there would be extended periods of time that the curtain would be open and the birds at risk.

Bird Tape, One-Way Transparent Film, and Window Decals.  Covering the glass with closely spaced objects break up the reflection enough to deter the birds. The transparent film covers the entire window which makes the windows appear opaque to the birds but remain clear when on the inside looking out. This is the solution I'm researching and will probably pursue.  I want to preserve my view while protecting the birds I love so much.

As odd as it might sound, this is another reason I am thankful for my small house. I believe that is why I noticed the most recent window strike. I can only imagine how many occur and are never observed. If I had not heard the collision and seen that poor stunned bird on my deck, I would not have learned about how lethal windows are for our backyard and migratory birds. With this information I will be able to find a good solution. At this point I am leaning toward curtains for the bedroom glass and window clings for the livingroom glass. However, I am still researching Collidescape brand window "dots" and window film as well as the WindowAlert cling designs.







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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, December 6, 2021

Reviewing Handmade Kirigami Greeting Cards by Paper Love Cards

I recently received a card with a note in the mail at my new address. I was touched by the personal letter included in the card and mesmerized by the card. I opened and closed the card repeatedly, looking at the details. Throughout the day I moved the card from one shelf to another looking for the best place to display my new miniature piece of art. This card lay flat in the envelope but when I opened it I was surprised by an exquisite butterfly on a bouquet of foliage expanding into a three-dimensional paper sculpture. I was so intrigued by the card that I immediately looked up the company information.



This card was created by Paper Love Cards. Paper Love cards are exquisite pop-up cards handcrafted by origami and kirigami artists. I am familiar with origami. Origami is the art of paperfolding and making shapes (often birds, with the crane being one of the most popular. Origami utilizes folding only, no cutting or gluing.

I first learned the term kirigami when researching these cards. Kirigami is a form of origami that includes the folding and the cutting of paper that results in three-dimensional forms. I am unclear as to whether Kirigami originated in Japan or China, but all sources report that it has a very long history. By the 17th century, it was recognized as a true art form in Asian culture and became popular in America in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Paper Love Cards

The Paper Love Cards design office is based in New York, United States while the cards are made in by origami and kirigami artists in Vietnam. They advertise "A pop of art for every occasion" and they aren't lying. The offer cards for holidays, birthdays, changes of seasons, 

These cards are suitable for recipients of all ages. The Dabbing Santa Christmas card would tickle many younger people.

Paper Love can be ordered online via their website or Amazon store and are currently sold at Walmart and Walgreens.

The card sent to me was of a butterfly design. As I opened the card, it eclosed and fully displayed itself to me. The colors are vibrant and the foliage is in many shapes. My photos do not do the dimensions and details of this card justice but perhaps they will help show some of the details better than I am able to describe. 




The Lost Art of Tangible Communication

In this day and age of a constant barrage of text messages, video chats and constant conversations in our ears via earbuds, handwritten messages are becoming a lost art. How wonderful to recieve a heartfelt message from someone who takes the time to put a card into the mail. While I am not at all good at doing this on a regular basis, I had already sent out a few handwritten messages. 

Digital communication is very important. It is instant and frequent. It helps us to remain in close and quick contact. However, tangible communication, that can be held and saved, is a special thing. Especially when that communication includes a bit of handmade art.

Special Cards for Christmas, Thank You, Birthday, and More

The wide variety of cards available is wonderful. There is literally probably something for everyone and there are so many designs to choose from. There is a brief video on the Paper Love Cards Amazon store that currently shows the opening of a Christmas card.  It also shows the small insert of paper were a brief message can be written. It is about the size of a business card. 

I would like to encourage you to take a peek in order to see how these 3D designs pop open. And to take a peek at the selection of cards so you are prepared when you shopping for an extra special card for a special someone. 








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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, June 21, 2021

Book Review: Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

In this tale we meet a variety of people who are living the best they are able after the Second Conflict. The Second Conflict which was also called "The Fall",  "The Reformation", and most commonly, "The Big Stupid". Nana said that some called it the Rapture. Her grandchild is only seven years old and doesn't remember a time before it. Regardless of the name, it was an event that set everyone back to zero in relation to technology, created massive weather events, and left people living hard lives trying to survive.


Wolf Road is an apocalyptic psychological thriller. It will not be eveyone's cup of tea.   The villain (or villains?) in this story function along the lines of Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs or Colin Stanton in Bone Collector.

Nana

"My house, girl" she said "you just a guest here till your parents come back. Pray that it be soon"

Nana was caring for her 7 year old grandchild because her daughter had run off with a man. They had run off to look for gold in  the north. Nana lived in a shack that she had built and rebuilt with Grandpa. He was killed in the Second Conflict and left Nana to fend for herself during these hard times. Now she also had to care for a child. A sassy, disrespectful child. 

Our introduction to Nana is brief as a thunderhead roared into their small town which was situation in the valley between the hills. 

Seven-year-old Girl a.k.a Elka

A seven year old child was arguing with Nana after being told to go collect pine resin. During their argument it was clear that conflict between the two was not a one-time thing. The child continued to refuse and Nana left the house with the final words "Don't you follow me. I don't even want to look at you no more."

While Nana was gone, the thunderhead rolled into town; terrifying the little girl who shouted for her grandmother to return. She hid under the table and before she knew it, both she and the table were in the air, being carried off in the storm. When she landed, she had no clue where she was or how to return to Nana's shack. But terrified, tired, and hungry she set off to find her way back.

Trapper a.k.a Kreagar

The man found a little girl eating his meat that was hanging on drying racks outside of his hut. She ran and hid but he tracked her (probably very easily given his skill living off the land). When she woke, with her head wrapped in a bandage from being knocked unconscious with the butt of his gun she noted

He sat on a chair by the door, staing at me with eyes like the devil. Shotgun rested against his leg, his hat on his knee. He must a' fallen asleep, his face was all covered in streaks of black dirt. "Where'd you come from?" he said. His voice had a breath of kindness to it.

 The little girl referred to him as Trapper. He was "the strangest I'd met" and after he couldn't locate Nana (did he really try?), he named the girl Elka (she could not remember her real name) and trained her how to hunt and trap.  It was not until much later that she learned his name was Kreagar and the grotesque things he was accused of doing.      

Magistrate Lyon

Magistrate Lyon is after Kreagar. She is the law, such as it is during those times. And she rides with a posse. They ride horseback from town to town and posted black and white printed wanted flyers everywhere. Magistrate Lyon wants justice. She wants revenge. 

Penelope

During and after an apocalypse, it is not safe for a young lady. Elka figures it is especially unsafe for a pretty, feminine, delicate girl who doesn't know her way around the woods. Who has absolutely no outdoors skills. A girl like Penelope. However, Elka learns that Penelope has other life-saving skills such as reading and quick-thinking in situations that involve people. 

The two very young ladies have a love-hate relationship and take care of each other (mostly) while both are fleeing danger and while Elka is on the road north to find her parents. Based on the one letter she had received from them, and the letter she had Nana read to her over and over, she pictured her parents living a happy life on their gold claim and her singularly focused plan was to join them. 

Wolf Road 

This story kept me interested with it's blend of apocalyptic fiction with hints of old western. I wasn't sure if I were reading about future events or events that occurred in the past. Even though I was unsure, it worked for me. The characters were unique and easy to imagine. Each one both villain and hero. So much so that it was hard to know who to root for at times.

Due to the pollution and weather related to whatever occurred during the Damn Stupid, there was a slight element of fantasy. Or was it? It is hard to say what would happen when the environment is polluted following bombings.

This was Elka's coming of age story. Where she survives childhood and begins making adult decisions for her life. During a time that she struggles with understanding whether or not she was Trapper's adopted daughter or Kreager's evil accomplice. She has great difficulty understanding those two as the same man. And difficulty deciding how to manage the situation.

This story is about nature versus nurture. Are children born with their instincts and desires, or do we train those things into them? Are evil people inherently evil? Or taught to be evil? Are those who are taught to be evil able to overcome it? 

Elka struggles with these things until the very last pages.





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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, June 7, 2021

Reviewing Farmhouse Decor Ideas: Character Wood and Metal

I have a small home that is currently under construction. The exterior is purposefully barn-like. The siding is sheet metal and the side facing the road is windowless. I plan for the interior to also suggest (suggest or scream - I'm not quite sure yet) barn interior. While shopping and planning I have found that the look I am imagining is not always easy to find examples of but my plans are slowly coming together.

on ReviewThisReviews


One problem I have had while shopping and researching decor ideas is that search words such as "rustic", "country" and "cabin" brings results of bears, moose, mountains, bentwood, and plaids. All very lovely, and very appropriate for the mountain ridge where my home is being built, but not quite the look I am going for. Many "farmhouse decor" searches yield lovely photos that include monotone white decor and flower bouquets. Again, quite gorgeous but not exactly what I'm going for. 

I am looking for barn doors, concrete floors, metals and wood combinations. While there are entire books written on other home styles; contemporary, coastal, southwestern, industrial, and more, the books on the "rustic" style comes closest to my goal. But aren't quite what I'm after.

One of our contributors is an incredibly talented DIYer. Lucky for me, Renaissance Woman shares projects that are exactly what I'd like to make for my future home. She shared how she made a DIY Pallet Book Nook. In that project she utilized character wood (from pallets) and corrugated metal to turn a small, odd space in her home into a uniquely wonderful spot to read, hangout, and relax. She shares the definition of character wood; "weathered wood that captures your imagination." This style is very much what I'm imagining.


Renaissance Woman's DIY Pallet Book Nook

If you enjoy her DIY Pallet Book Nook article, you can find more of her reviews under her tab here. She is quite talented.

This wine rack is a much smaller example of barnhouse decor. In this example, it can be purchased fully assembled. But people with DIY talent could easily make their own.


Rustic Barn Door Wine Rack


Not everyone needs or wants a wine rack. But most everyone likes to have a wall clock in plain view for convenience. And how much better if that wall clock compliments the decor.  This wood and metal clock is a wonderful example of my definition of barnhouse decor.


Vintage Farmhouse Clock

Sliding barn doors are one of the most notable farmhouse (barnhouse) features. They are so popular that not only are they functional doors but they are also a part of furniture, wall-hangings, featured in paintings, and more. I have even seen printed shower curtains that mimic wooden barn doors.

I want a barn door. I have watched video tutorials and hope to make my own sliding barn door to cover at least one window. There are versions that do not required angled cuts and I think I can manage simple straight cuts and assembly. I am hoping for both functionality (blocking sun on hot days in that south-facing window) and visual appeal (a barn door hung in my barn). 

If I decide I am unable to build my own sliding barn door there are many options for purchase. This is just one example:

sliding barn door kit; assembly required

While I've never shopped at Pottery Barn, I have noticed that some of their wood furniture fits my idea of the farmhouse style. If you don't already shop there, you may want to take a peek.

If you are looking for some barnhouse inspiration, I hope these ideas spark your imagination. 




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, May 17, 2021

Reviewing Round Tree-Swings

 As a child, my favorite playground toy was the swing. Metal  A-frame swing sets were in many yards. My family had one. And I loved to play on it, swinging so high that the legs lifted out of the ground and threatened to tip over. As I am making plans to move out of my apartment and into my own home, one of the things on my "must have" list is a swing. But what type? I have recently decided that I will have a single round tree swing.

My son on their tree swing

Over time, my son had sent photos and videos of my grandkids in their round swing. They loved that thing and laughed the entire time I pushed them in it during visits. It was durable and only needed a sturdy tree branch to hang from. And as you can see from the photograph above, it was sturdy enough for adults. However, I am a larger adult and did not feel confident using it. 

As time grows closer to moving to my own land, I have thought about swings. I want one the grandkids can enjoy when they visit but also one that I can use.  And I weigh a good bit more than my son does. So I was considering using an old fashioned wooden swing hanging from a tree branch or from the underside of my deck.

Then, a benefit of being an Amazon affiliate, I see what others are purchasing. I saw the SUPER DEAL 48" round, web swing. Rated up to 700 lbs, I can easily swing on this securely.

You see, as an Amazon Affiliate, I am able to see what was purchased via the links on my reviews. I cannot see who purchased it (providing privacy for the buyers) but I do get a link for the item. And I was thrilled to see this swing! It was a sign that I need a comfy tree swing rather than a wooden swing.

SUPER DEAL Extra Large 48" Web Swing

With over 1,000 ratings, this swing is rated at 4.8 out of 5 stars (at the time of this writing). Reading over the reviews and comments, a couple of the previous complaints have been addressed and have been fixed. For examples, there were a few older reviews that stated the knots/fasteners did not hold up. A more recent review shows photos of the improved clamp system. 

Details:

  • 48" diamater, extra large swing
  • Durable - rope and frame made of UV resistant materials
  • Metal frame
  • 71" rope length
  • holds up to 700 pounds

You may be asking why I don't buy an A-frame swing set. Or a play set that includes a swing. 

The number one reason I don't want to purchase a stand-alone swing set is because then I have something to mow around.  Also, with my steep slope yard, the A-frame swing set would not be safe.  

My grandkids all live several hundreds of miles away. If I were going to have children at my home on a regular basis, a play set would be the best option (except for the large up-front expense). For all of these reasons I am opting for a round, web swing.

And this Super Deal, super-sized swing will be perfect as I'll be able to lounge in it. Whether hanging from a tree branch down in my woods or from a support beam on my deck, you can count on me using this swing often.




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, May 3, 2021

Book Review - The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Michele Richardson

Have you ever read a book that makes it hard to start another book because you have a hard time moving on from the characters that you just finished reading about? Or a book that was so good that you read it at least one more time? The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel is one of those books for me. I have started reading it for a second time. This novel, inspired by historical programs and people, includes issues of remote Appalachian living in the 1930s, literacy, poverty, spinsterhood, and the impact of having a different skin color. This is the personal story of one woman's life. A woman who is both astonishingly brave and who is as uncertain as most of the rest of us.

Historical Fiction Review on ReviewThisReviews.com

I was hooked from the opening paragraph:

"The librarian and her mule spotted it at the same time. The creature's ears shot up, and it came to a stop so sudden its front hooves skidded out, the pannier slipping off, spilling out the librarian's books. An eddy of dirt and debris lifted, stinging the woman's eyes. The mule struggled to look upward, backward, anywhere other than at the thing in front of it."    -- The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Cussy Mary Carter lived with her father in their one-room log house in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. Her mother had passed away and her father was desperate to find a husband for his grown daughter. While his goal of her being a respectful woman and safe as someone's wife, it did not fit with her chosen career of librarian. A pack horse librarian to be exact.

From 1935 to 1943, The Pack Horse Library Project ran through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) (part of President Roosevelt's New Deal programs. The WPA focused on work relief programs). Librarians were hired to circulate books to families on their routes. The routes were up to 18 - 20 miles per day and the librarians rode these routes on horseback. The routes were often rugged and dangerous but the librarians were determined.

Cussy Mary was devoted to the families along her route. All of her families. Those who were avid readers as well as hesitant readers. She was often the only outside contact families would have for long periods of time. She was a hero to these families.

She was also a pariah. Cussy Mary was one of Kentucky's Blue People. I had never heard of this family group who (partly due to geographical region and partly genetic) had noticeably blue skin. Superstitious people in the region blamed the blue people for bad things that happened. These people were shunned, ignored, or abused. The opening of this story includes a victim of a hanging.

When testing and a possible "cure" for Cussy Mary's colored skin is offered she finds that fitting in may or may not be as easy as the doctor would lead her to believe. She has some difficult decisions to make. 

From the Author:

After the end of the novel, Kim Michele Richardson includes very interesting information in her Author's Notes.  She writes:

"I've modified one historical date in the story so I could include relevant information about medical aspects and discoveries"

In other words, The Pack Horse Project was not ongoing when the "cure" for Cussy Mary's blue skin was discovered. 

At times, when I notice that an author adjusted factual information in order to create a more interesting story I am a bit disappointed. But in this case, I was not bothered.  In fact, I was very interested by the information about the causes and cure of the congenital disease. I am still amazed that prior to this book, I had never heard of either the Pack Horse Project librarians or the Blue Fugates of Kentucky and the things they experienced in their daily lives. 

Other Recommendations:

The ReviewThis! contributors clearly love to read. Click our Book Reviews tab at the top of this page to see all our collective book reviews.

A few other historic fiction reviews I have written are: Galway Bay (a must-read that begins in Ireland during the potato famine),  Chesapeake (a James Michener tale that is set on the Chesapeake Bay and spans 400 years), and Nickel's Luck (a cast of fictional characters living in the real town of Indianola, Texas in the 1800s. Indianola is no more and I bawled learning the history of that town and it's people). 





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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, April 19, 2021

Reviewing Roasted Pineapple and Habanero Sauce by Robert Rothschild Farm

 Last week I was hungry for something different.  I thought I wanted salmon. No, I was certain I wanted salmon. But I wanted something different. Something flavorful. I went to my local Costco (which is where I buy my preferred frozen salmon) and happened past a large bottle of beautiful, golden Roasted Pineapple and Habanero Sauce. Initially, I walked past it. In fact, I walked the entire grocery portion of the store trying to decide what to make with my salmon. I was drawn back to the Roasted Pineapple and Habanero sauce and after reading the label, I took it home. I am so glad I did!



I really like savory food. I think heat and spices are delicious. Sadly, what my brain thinks is completely different that when my mouth can tolerate. As soon as I arrived home from the store, and had started the rice cooking, I texted a photo of the Roasted Pineapple and Habanero sauce to my sons.  



Their collective response: "Haha, best of luck!" and "Let me know how that turns out for you."

My response: "It is supposedly mild. I read the label and put the jar back several times before I decided to try it."

More skeptical responses from my sons. 

Fortunately, the sauce was truly "mild". It was also flavorful and delicious. I immediately regretted not having made more servings of salmon. And I craved it during my camping trip over the weekend.

My Roasted Pineapple and Habanero Salmon over Rice

Nothing fancy happens in my kitchen. But I love tasty food. In this case I made white rice (following the directions on the bag and cooking for 20 minutes).  

During that time the rice cooked, I thawed a frozen salmon filet in a container of room temperature water (the frozen salmon filets I buy are individual wrapped which is perfect for me).

I baked the salmon per the instructions, adding just a bit of sauce in the baking dish with the salmon (about 3 tablespoons). 

I served the baked salmon over the cooked rice, salt and pepper to taste, and added about another tablespoon of the sauce over the rice.

YUM!

Robert Rothschild Farm

I purchased my large jar of Roasted Pineapple and Habanero sauce at my local Costco.  You can be sure that I am going to purchase a couple more bottles to add to my pantry and keep them in stock!  You can also find this delicious sauce on Amazon from the Robert Rothschild Farm store.

If you want to know more about Robert Rothschild Farm, you can visit their website. I love all of the products they offer (sauces, salsas, dips, fruit spreads, savory spreads, and more) as well as a few recipes that use their products. In short, the Rothschilds moved from California to Ohio in the 1970s and were committed to their land. They produced more raspberries than they needed and that inspired their recipes and flavor combinations.

After visiting their site, I have a "wish list" of several of their items. 

Side Note:

Many years ago I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Charleston, South Carolina. During that trip, we ate at a little island restaurant. I still sometimes talk about the dish I had there; scallops, mashed potatoes, and "some kind of citrusy/spicy sauce". That was the best tasting dish I have ever eaten and have never had anything like it again. This sauce reminds me very much of that long ago dish. You can be absolutely sure that I am going to learn how to prepare scallops so that I can serve them with this sauce and try to cure that 20-something  year old craving. 




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, March 29, 2021

Movie Review: Land

“Why am I here?” she asks her sister. Edee is a woman who is suddenly without her family after a traumatic event. So traumatic that she cannot discuss it. The movie opens with a woman in an upscale therapist office silently watching the grains of sand in the hourglass fall.

Movie Review: Land 


Therapist: Edee, why did you decide to come here?

Edee: Emma, my sister, said you were magic.

The session continues. Slowly and with pauses. We learn that Edee is in the session at her sister’s request.

Therapist: How are you feeling, right now, in general, what are you feeling?

Edee: I’m feeling, um, that it’s really difficult to be around people. Because they just want me to be better

We do not know how Edee lost her loved ones (until the last few minutes of the movie). She has flashback memories of her son and husband so we are aware they are dead. Her grief is overwhelming and numbing. She tells the therapist that in the beginning she shared her feelings with others. But she stopped. 

Edee: Why would I want anyone to share in that? They can’t anyway.

Therapist: But that means you are alone with your pain.

And that seems to be all that Edee can manage. Being alone with her pain.

Edee is a “city” woman who packs up and moves to a remote cabin in the wilderness. Edee cuts off all human contact. She tosses her phone into the trash, which severs all ties with the world including with her loving sister. It is unknown to me if her goal was to heal herself or to “not be here” – which she almost succeeded at on more than one occasion (warning: some of the scenes are uncomfortable - a potential trigger for some.)

She clearly should not have survived her self-imposed “cure”. She was clearly ill-prepared to wander off into the wilderness and exacerbated the risk by having her rental car picked up. From the flashbacks we know that she has been fishing and has that skill. And she seems to intend to provide food for herself from the land in addition to the very small amount of canned goods she brought along. From a drawing in crayon, we know that in the past there was someone who wanted to go fishing and live in the mountains. Perhaps this is why she chose to move to this off-grid cabin.

Edee (Robin Wright) is found by Miguel (Demian Bichir) nearly frozen and starved to death. Miguel and Alawa (a nurse from the nearby small town) nurse Edee back to health.

Edee continues to exclude people from her life, but allows Miguel just enough contact during infrequent visits to teach her how to trap food and to hunt game. After all, Miguel said that he would respect her wishes. He would teach her to trap and to hunt in the fall. Then he would leave her alone. Miguel is a man of his word. The seasons go by: planting, foraging, harvest, hunting, and a return to snow. The years go by. Two years.



My Thoughts About This Amazon Prime Movie.

I rented this movie on Amazon for far too much money. I regret having spent that much for an Amazon Prime rental. However, as odd as it sounds, if/when it is released in an inexpensive blu-ray or CD version I will buy it and watch it again. 

The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. The cabin scenes were filmed in Alberta, Canada atop Moose Mountain.

I found it to be well-acted and I think the messages related to grief and trauma are supremely important reminders to us all. Each person handles depression, trauma, and grief differently. Not every mainstream treatment is effective. And most of all, depression, trauma, and grief are very painful. It is not easy for people to just “be better.” 

Some reviewers complain that Land was “slow”. And that the character was “egotistical” and “selfish”. Some reviewers complained about the choppy flashbacks. I found all of those things to be a realistic part of the experience of many people with debilitating depression. Severe depression does not allow the person to think of others. It impacts the person’s thoughts and their 5 senses. Memories can be intrusive – sometimes welcomed, sometimes not.

I think the “slowness” of the movie was perfect. Yes, it was slow-paced. I don’t believe the movie was meant to be an action/adventure movie. True depression and hopelessness is like swimming through neck-deep mud. It is restricting. People are busy trying to survive each moment of every day.  I felt the pace of movie portrayed this feeling perfectly.

I only wish that the movie had been longer. That we would have been spectators of more details of the journey, the landscape, and of each season. And of the lessons taught by Miguel.

I hope the message of the movie is, and is understood as; depression, grief, and trauma are difficult things to get through. But they are survivable. And while every person has an individual response and recovery, it is better when it is not done alone. Each person who gets through it has the ability to be meaningful to the next person who is struggling.


Related Link:

This movie reminded me a bit of Wild with Reese Witherspoon. The movie was based on the written memoir of Cheryl Strayed and was another story of how a woman left civilization after experiencing severe grief and loss and ending up finding herself.  You can read my review of Wild here.

The effects of loss and trauma on a human are not pretty. And yet many people not only survive, but thrive after they get through it. These two stories are examples of surviving the nitty-gritty and finding the reasons to live. 





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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, March 15, 2021

Book Review: The First-Time Gardener Growing Vegetables

Perhaps you want to grow your own food but are afraid and have no clue where to begin. Or maybe you can relate to me, having had some experience and success growing literally a couple of vegetables over the decades but far more familiar with wasted time, money, and failed gardening attempts. If you would like to grow your own vegetable garden with confidence, The First Time Gardener Growing Vegetables: All the Know-How and Encouragement You need to Grow and Fall in Love with Your Brand New Food Garden by Jessica Sowards is an excellent investment.

The First Time Gardener - Growing Vegetables

With the purchase of my land, construction of my home, and dreams of having a successful vegetable garden, I am familiar with Jessica Sowards of Roots and Refuge Farm fame through her youtube channel. I spend nearly all of my indoor free time watching videos about gardening and homesteading and her channel has been one that I have learned a good deal from. Her love of gardening is contagious and she is a wealth of vegetable knowledge. When she announced that she had written a book I knew I had to buy it.  

The First Time Gardener Growing Vegetables: All the Know-How and Encouragement You need to Grow and Fall in Love with Your Brand New Food Garden 

This 176 page book is written by Jessica Sowards with photographs by Makenzie Evans Photography. It is part gardening guide, part inspirational prose, and part coffee table visual feast. This book is not an in-depth, encyclopedia of plant names, varieties, and specific growing details of each plant. It is summarized bits of encouraging information.

The Chapters include:

  1. Welcome to the Classroom
  2. The Foundation - What Every Gardener Needs to Succeed
  3. Creating Your Garden
  4. Growing with the Seasons
  5. The Needs for Seed... or Not
  6. Grow Something Lovely - Designing a Captivating Space
  7. The Nitty-Gritty of Garden Management
  8. Making the Harvest
  9. Conclusion - Grow on, Gardener
The chapters are short. Brief blurbs hitting the most important parts of gardening. Including some boxes of summarized information, lists, and charts. The information is chunked into small portions that are not overwhelming for the brand new gardener and would be good prompts and reminders for gardeners with some experience. 

aka "fertilizers" - I've only recently learned about coconut coir

a list of some of the best food plants for container gardening


More About Why I Chose This Book

I currently live in a metro area apartment. I have successfully grown some tomatoes (and a small handful of tiny potatoes) on my south-facing balcony. But I haven't tried to grow a garden in the ground for some years (oh my gosh, decades! My how time flies!). With my planned move to four acres, I am dreaming of having a garden with a variety of vegetables that I will be able to eat fresh or can for later. While I am excited about my plans, I am also afraid.

I am afraid of more plant failure. Over my lifetime, I have made many attempts to grow plants: houseplants, vegetables, berries, fruit trees... and I have failed massively. I have wasted so much time, energy, and money only to end up with seedlings that die, plants purchased from a store that I kill, and a variety of plants that never grow anything edible.

I am also overwhelmed by feeling as though there is so much information to remember; when to plant, what to use for fertilizer, when to harvest, and so on. While everything is available on the internet, I want to make sure to have some good reference books in my home. I do not have reliable connectivity on top of the mountain ridge. There will be many times that I will not be able to look up things on the internet. Also, with this book it will be quicker to flip open to a list or a quick reminder.

Last year I impulsively bought a couple of zucchini and cabbage starts from a roadside stand and planted them in my flower garden. Even though I only sporadically visited my land and did not provide care for those plants, several zucchini grew and I was able to make my own zucchini bread. With a little guidance and support from Jessica's book I should be able to have even more success this coming year.

Related Links:

Make sure you check out the Review This! Gardening tab to see the other posts by our contributors. Our group includes some very talented gardeners. Click this link or the gardening tab at the top of this page and scroll down to see previous gardening posts.

To read more about my land and future homestead please visit my personal blog or take a peek at the video of my house under construction. But be advised, I am not a "youtuber". But with a peek at the videos or blog post it will be easy to see why I will do much of my gardening in containers or raised beds. And that I will need all of the guidance I can get.

I mentioned Jessica's youtube channel. If you love to watch gardening videos and/or someone who finds quiet joy in gardening, be sure to check out Roots and Refuge.

To see what others are saying about The First Time Gardener Growing Vegetables: All the Know-How and Encouragement You need to Grow and Fall in Love with Your Brand New Food Garden be sure to check out the reviews on Amazon


The First-Time Gardener Growing Vegetables Book 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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, March 1, 2021

Phillips Frozen Crab Cakes Review and Recipe

 I recently made a meal that was both decadent and almost too easy to believe. Phillips Maryland Style Crab Cakes are delicious and were the star of show. Because they were from the local grocery freezer section, I was eating like a queen in 20 minutes with no work beyond popping the crab cakes into the oven and frying an over easy egg. That's all. 

look at that chunk of crab meat!

A Bit About Phillips Foods, Inc

Maryland is known for it's blue crabs. Fresh crabs and crab cakes are a favorite here. I am not a native Marylander so I did not begin to fully appreciate seafood until I moved here as an adult. However, even I immediately learned that a Phillips restaurant is an excellent place to grab a delicious crab cake. 

The Phillips Family seafood story began 100 years ago on the Chesapeake Bay. In the community of Hooper's Island where most families made a living on the water. Mr. Phillips owned a seafood packing plant (wild crabs, fish, and oysters in season) and they shipped their fresh seafood by steamship to Baltimore. In 1956, Bryce and Shirley Phillips opened a small carryout in Ocean City, Maryland.


Crab Cakes and Eggs Over Easy

One day recently, my son messaged me. He said that my young grandson wanted crab cakes with over easy eggs. What?! First of all, I was surprised that my grandson would list crab crakes as a meal request, let alone with an egg on top. After all, I was in my 30's by the time I had a good understanding of the deliciousness of crab cakes. But then again, their family had lived in both Florida and on the Gulf coast of Texas. Of course my grandchild would know about crab cakes.  But the over easy egg addition? Hmmm.

The more I thought about it, the more I craved crab cakes! And once I crave crabcakes, I must have them. I went straight to the grocery and bought a box of Phillips Crab Cakes from the freezer section.

This was the first time I've bought frozen crab cakes. Frankly, I thought they wouldn't be very good. But with all of the social distancing and such, I really wasn't up to picking up fresh crab cakes from one of the local restaurants.

The frozen Phillips Crab Cakes were easy and DELICIOUS! I was so pleasantly surprised. 

My son and family ended up making a fancy version of the crab cakes and eggs. It included beef in a surf and turf version. My version was ridiculous simple.

My grandson's recipe: filet mignon, crabcake, egg, and bacon
(photo courtesy of my son)


My Crab Cakes with Over easy Eggs and Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 2 Phillips Maryland Style Crab Cakes (frozen)
  • 2 large eggs
  • Premade Guacamole
  • Butter or cooking spray
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare the two crab cakes following the directions on the box (I baked mine in the oven using a small bit of butter in the pan and baking at 425F for 12 minutes, turning once and baking for 4 more minutes - until browned on each side)

After flipping the crab cakes, fry two eggs to over-easy; salt and pepper to taste (remembering that crab cakes contain salt and spices).

Plating: place the crab cakes on a plate. Gently place the eggs on top of the crab cakes. Top with Guacamole to taste (I used just over a tablespoon).

Enjoy!

Imagine all of the variations on this meal - from super easy (crab cakes alone or on a simple bun) to more advanced as my son and grandson made (filet mignon, crab cake, egg, bacon, on a bed of spinach). 


Related Links:

For more information about the Phillips family history or their foods (past and present) please visit their official website here

My son enjoys cooking and making interesting and beautiful meals. Once, I stated that I was going to have fish sticks for dinner. My son immediately sent a recipe for avocado cream sauce and suggested that I make fish tacos. I followed his advice and had an easy and quick dinner of Fish Tacos.

Fish tacos with avocado cream sauce

I am not the only Review This! contributor who uses frozen fish or seafood for an easy and delicious meal. Our Wednesday Elf has reviewed Sea Pak's Budweiser Beer Battered Cod and Gorton's Roasted Garlic and Butter Grilled Tilapa. She recommends both and I am especially interested in her comment "It's like having your kitchen become your new favorite pub". It has been far too long since I've had good pub fish and chips. I've been watching for the Budweiser Beer Battered Cod and will snatch some up as soon as I am in a grocery store that stocks them.






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.”


FOLLOW US ON:
Review This Reviews Quick View Home Page

The Review This Contributors



Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasWednesday ElfWednesday ElfOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010RenaissanceWomanLou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelRaintree AnnieRaintree AnnieTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaSam MonacoSam MonacoBarbRadBarbRadBev OwensBev OwensBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecoratingforEventsHeather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G



Review This is Dedicated to the
Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner


We may be apart, but
You Are Not Forgotten





“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement

X