Archive | August 2012

Gettysburg National Military Park

From his earliest memories, my husband has always wanted to see Gettysburg National Military Park.  And I have always had an interest in American History.  Years went by and neither one of us had ever made it to Gettysburg.  Recently we changed that. We decided it was time to go. So we packed up the car and headed out towards this little town made famous by one of the most horrible moments in American history. The accounts in history tell us that those first few days of July 1863 were ones that changed the little town of Gettysburg and forever marked it as some of the bloodiest days in the Civil War.


My husband and I have watched movies, historical documentaries and the Ken Burn’s Civil War series for PBS. But nothing can prepare you for the massiveness of Gettysburg Battlefields until you are standing there.

Next year, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg National Military Park is preparing for the commemoration.  We decided to make the journey and see the infamous Battlefield for ourselves.  We actually took about 1,000 photos but can only share a small portion of those here.  So following is a brief pictorial tour of our stay.  I hope you enjoy them and if these help encourage you to delve deeper into our great country’s history and see these places for yourself, then we would be ecstatic.


Your first stop should be at the new Visitor’s Center. Here you will be able to find a map of the park and purchase any number of tours available. Auto-Tours, Bus-Tours, and Ranger Tours, and Tours to the Eisenhower Historic Site are all offered to provide the best possible experience at the Park. Also at the Visitor’s Center is the Cyclorama, Museum and a 20-minute Movie presentation narrated by Morgan Freeman. We purchased this ticket package and highly recommend it. The Parks offers several different types of discounts including AAA, Senior and Military discounts.


Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator is honored throughout the Park. This wonderful statute of him is at the Visitor’s Center.  Be prepared for a line, though.  He is one popular feature and there always seems to be a line for a photograph!


Scattered about the Park in every corner where skirmishes and battles took place, there are monuments honoring those who fought in that spot.  The detail and beauty of these monuments is breathtaking in many cases.


The thing that struck us most was the fact that these hills were much steeper in person than they appeared in the movies, documentaries and photographs. It touched me how much the soldiers, both Confederate and Federal, endured all those years ago.


These fields are massive, nearly 2-3 miles wide and without any cover or protection in many areas. The men who were engaged in Pickett’s Charge came from the tree line and charged over field, fences and more field approaching High Water Mark at the peak of that hill. This is the spot where General Armistead fell during the Charge.


This is the view of the field that General Longstreet’s men had to cross in the Charge from the vantage point at High Water Mark.


This is the view from the tree line where the Confederate Divisions under Longstreet began Pickett’s Charge.



My mind kept whirling around with amazement that so many lives survived these rocky, boulder filled hills and fields.  I was humbled realizing the number of men, 50,000 total, who were lost July 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1863.  Walking around carrying only a camera, I could only imagine what it was like to carry everything you needed to stay alive: ammunition, rifle, knife, canteen, and whatever else was needed…and in the July heat.  I’m sure in 1863 it was as hot a summer, too. I cannot begin to fathom the stench of the dead and dying, both human and animal.












The 20th Maine at Little Round Top was a story presented in the movie, Gettysburg, with the role of Colonel Chamberlain played by Jeff Daniels.  For me, walking the same paths that these men defended and died on was almost overwhelming.  I didn’t even want to speak while standing in the spot where so many perished.





Just across from Little Round Top is Devil’s Den – standing there dwarfed by these rocks, it is unbelievable to me just how the soldier’s kept fighting up these hills.



“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far about our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” -President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863 in the dedication of this Battlefield.


The Buck Stops Here

How wonderful to be in Smoky Mountain National Park, once again, and see a whole group of young bucks living it up! As you know, Cades Cove is one of our favorite places.  It seems that every time we go there and just wait and watch and listen, we see something different.  I hope you enjoy these photos as much as we had fun shooting them!


One by one, they quietly slipped out of the cover of the trees.  Just when you thought there were no more, another poked its head out!


By the time they all emerged, there were about 6-7 of them!  All young, all frisky and ready to play.


First a little snack to build up energy….


What was that?


I better go check it out!


I though I heard something.


Whoa! Sorry, you got in my way! This is FUN!


I can run faster than you!


Geez, I just don’t know which way to turn! Left, right, right left…..


Did you hear that?


Thanks for showing up at our Buckaroo Bash.  It was really fun!

Birthday Cake For The Birthday Boy!

In celebration of my husband’s birthday, I decided to bake a German Chocolate cake this morning.  I’ve been wanting to try a homemade frosting for it and have searched high and low for the right recipe.  Finally finding one, I became quite the “busy bee” this morning!


The cake is the tried and true Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe and I’ve played around with it a tiny bit. Here’s the recipe (My changes are in parenthesis):

Thanks to Hershey’s for the simply awesome recipe that has been one of my favorites.

HERSHEY’S Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake

2 c. sugar  (1-1/2 cups sugar)

1-3/4 c. all purpose-flour (1-1/2 cup unbleached AP flour + 1/4 c. ww pastry flour)

3/4 c. Hershey’s cocoa

1-1/2 tsp baking powder (1-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder)

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1 c. milk (I will sometimes use Unsweetened nut milks)

1/2 c. oil

2 tsp. pure vanilla

1 c. boiling water

(1 tsp. coffee)

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).  Pour into pans.  Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool 10 minutes then cool completely out of the pans.  Ice when completely cool.

This is the icing recipe for a 2-layer cake. Since I’ve never made it before, I will follow it exactly before I start playing with it! Ok, so I lied. I did play around with it, but only a little bit!


German Chocolate Cake Frosting

1 c. evaporated milk

1 c. sugar

3 egg yolks beat with 1 tsp. water

1/2 c. butter

1 c. chopped pecans

1 c. flake coconut

1 tbsp. corn starch (optional)

Cook over medium heat until thick.  Then stir in nuts and coconut. Spread on cooled cake while still warm. Let set for about 1/2 an hour, then serve it up as big, thick slices!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jeff! I love you more than you’ll ever know!

One Lovely Blog Award



Thank you to Paula Manning Lewis for nominating my blog this week for the One Lovely Blog Award. My husband and I have enjoyed her Native American artwork for years and recently found her blog and began following her. You can see her work if you click here: Paula Manning-Lewis blog.

The Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog  – see above.

2. List seven random things about yourself –

a. I love to garden and try to mimic my Mom sometimes, although I’m not as good as her and she can put me to shame!

b. My creativity started at an early age because my parents sent me to piano lessons and I sketched all over the church bulletins every week!

c. Mom started me in the kitchen at the age of 6. My first experience with the stove – a shriveled up handprint because I thought the pretty red coils looked really cool and laid my hand on one.

d. I sang a solo part in the Christmas program in the 3rd grade. I think there were a million people there! (Not really, but it seemed like it!)

e. Cooking has become a real joy to me.  I love to feed anyone who likes to eat whatever I can create!

f. Someone really wise pushed me into blogging… I really love it!

3. Nominate 15 other blogs – these are blogs that I follow and they also follow me. I love many different things about each one, which is why I chose them. I am new to this, but here goes:

4. Notify the 15 bloggers

5. Put the award logo on your blog.

Thanks again to Paula Manning-Lewis for nominating my blog for this One Lovely Blog Award!

It’s a “Pizza” Tomato Pie!

Cooking shows are some of my favorite and in order to catch them, I have to DVR all the time.  They are full of great ideas and some of my favorite shows include Pioneer Woman, Not My Mama’s Meals, French Food at Home and Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam.

With an abundance of tomatoes from our garden, I decided I need to do something with them! Last week I made fresh marinara using my immersion blender and paired it with spaghetti for a wonderful meal. This week I was trying to decide what to do.  I had seen Bobby Deen remake his Mama’s Tomato Pie and while the Paula Deen’s tomato pie looked wonderful, I didn’t want all the calories of it.  And I didn’t want the “Pizza” version that Bobby made, even though it looks absolutely delicious! (And it’s absolutely because I have not mastered yeast breads yet and my pizza crusts are incredibly awful!)

I decided to make is more like a stacked pie sans crust.

Cyn’s Tomato “Pie”

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Slice 6 tomatoes fresh from the garden into extra thick slices

Stack them in a colander in a single layer and sprinkle lightly with sea salt to drain for about 10 minutes. I really had quite a bit more than the picture shows! You can use a really large colander and stack a lot at one time.


I sprayed my casserole dish and set it aside

Next whisk together 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 3-4 turns on the grinder of sea salt and black pepper, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. paprika, a big pinch of Cyn’s Dried Herb blend (sweet basil, parsley, thyme & oregano from my garden)


Grabbing the Panko bread crumbs I started stacking starting with a layer of tomatoes sprinkle the Panko and cover generously, stacking until you run out of tomatoes.


Once stacking is complete, pour your egg mixture over the entire dish until it fills up to the top, added shredded cheese to the top: Cheddar, Pepper Jack, and Havarti. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.  Remove from your oven and let set for about 5 minutes before serving.


I took a spoonful of this out and tasted it. It was absolutely delicious! The Pepper Jack cheese gave it just enough bite.  Pair it up with grilled chicken, steak and salad or any vegetarian dishes for a tasty summer meal!

Bon Appetit!