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Friday, February 27, 2015

TOS Review: In Freedom's Cause CD by Heirloom Audio Productions

In Freedom's Cause audio drama CD history review at Because I'm Me
Adventure. Daring. Fighting. War. Courage!

Recently, I was given a copy of Heirloom Audio Productions 2 CD Collection In Freedom's Cause's - The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce, The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty to review with the boys, Adam (13), Kaden (11), and River (6).

G.A. Henty was a novelist and war correspondent who wrote epic adventures that took place within the settings of important periods in history. Henty did extensive research for his books and was able to blend very detailed and accurate accounts of history into his stories, giving the reader a broader understanding of a time period than a history book might. The main characters of his children's novels were intelligent, brave, honest and resourceful, yet also modest, traits we work to instill in our children today. Henty wrote the book this audio CD is based on, In Freedom's Cause - A Story of Wallace and Bruce, in 1885.

In a nutshell, Heirloom Audio Productions took Henty's book and adapted it into audio theater, doing quite a bit of research of their own along the way, even going so far as to travel to Scotland to get a feel for the surroundings of the story. They then found very talented actors to portray the characters, such as Joanne Froggatt of Downton Abbey, Billy Boyd of Lord of the Rings, Skandar Keynes of Chronicles of Narnia, and James Cosmo of Braveheart. In the end, they created a remarkable 2 1/2 hour adventure.

Of course, we all know who Wallace and Bruce were, right? Not a clue in this house. The Wars of Scottish Independence? Not that either. It's not that we don't study history, I promise we do, we just haven't studied that particular history.

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD ReviewThe story is told, mostly, from the point of view of Ned, an English school boy, raised by his mother who has a strong faith in God, and is set at the turn of the 14th century.  As a young man Ned learned that his father had died at the hand's of another man who took Ned's family castle and land. That, combined with the fact that he was an enthusiastic and adventurous young man, led him to learn to fight and eventually become passionately involved in the Scottish uprising and fight for independence against the English. Throughout the story we learn how he met his wife (she was climbing a tree), how he learned to fight well, become involved with William Wallace, learned to make very strategic decisions through the example of Wallace, became a leader, and how he met and became associated with Robert the Bruce.

Through the first portion of the drama we learn about William Wallace, who was born in 1270 (and was the subject of Braveheart). Wallace led the charge for Scottish Independence and was a brave, intelligent, charismatic man. Wallace had a strong faith and was known to read the Psalms regularly. In fact, his courage at his death motivated his followers and fellow countrymen to remain brave and continue the fight for freedom from England, rather than give up as the king had expected them to do after losing their leader.

The story then shifts to Robert The Bruce and his continuation of the fight against the English. When we first met The Bruce he was on the side of the English, then he switched to the side of the Scottish, then back to English, and finally back to Scottish Over time he became much more convicted in his view of the importance of independence. The Bruce used the skills he'd learned from Wallace to win Scotland's freedom. He became King of Scotland in 1307 and ruled until his death.

Obviously, that's a quick summary of the story. If I were to tell you the whole thing you wouldn't be on the edge of your seat when you listened to the CD's, would you?

In Freedom's Cause audio drama CD history review at Because I'm Me
We opted to listen to the two CD's in the car. I really enjoyed the program. The acting is terrific as are the background sounds and music. In one early scene Ned is training for the uprising with local youths, using an outbuilding they discovered in the woods. I felt as if we were there with him and found myself holding my breath worrying that something would go wrong and they'd be discovered by the English (they weren't). Thanks to quality writing, acting, and production, I could feel and understand the emotions of the characters.

Accompanying the audio theater CD's is the full-color downloadable study guide for In Freedom's Cause, The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce. The majority of the 50 page study guide is devoted to sets of questions, each covering a few minutes of the audio drama. Each page contains the "Listening Well", questions about what has happened in the story, the "Thinking Further" section, open ended questions giving the user a chance to think and explore a little further, and "Defining Words", words to look up and learn the meanings to. At the end of the study guide is a section with a bit of history of Scotland before the story begins and a section of Bible study questions. In Freedom's Cause is geared towards kids ages 6 and up and the study guide is very helpful, especially the "Listening Well" section for young readers who may have a more challenging time following the story.

The boys liked this. They liked the story and the action. The story was easy for River to follow, but I think grasping the real magnitude of what these battles meant was over his head. The other boys, and I, learned about something we knew nothing about and about people we knew very little about, especially their lives at that time in history.

In Freedom's Cause is available for purchase through Heirloom Productions.

In Freedom's Cause can be found on Facebook and on Pinterest.

Click the image below to see what other reviewers thought of this program.

In Freedom's Cause Review

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day Finery for Men

Please enjoy this collection of fabulous Irish and Gaelic inspired gifts for the debonair men in our lives, whether they be Irishmen by blood or just in their imaginations on the 17th of March.

"There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were."

Click on the images to explore the items further.

Personalized Shamrock Cufflinks from TealsPrairie
Personalized Shamrock Cufflinks from TealsPrairie, from $17.99

Irish Penal Cross, show your Irish side
Irish Rosary with Cross from Tiggawild, $39.64

Grizzly Man Irish Mojo Beard Conditioner
Grizzly Man Irish Mojo Beard Conditioner by LWApothecary, $2.50

celtic bracelet, show your Irish side
Men's Celtic Bracelet by mitallerdenubes, $23.26

Irish walking hat

Custom Made Irish Walking Hat at HatsWithAPast, $85.00

linen hankerchiefs, show your Irish side
Irish Linen Hankerchief by Broiderie, $15.95

Greeting Card, show your Irish side
Irish Fishing Boat Greeting Card at 4SeasonCards, $8.72

Leather Celtic Bracelet, show your Irish side
Leather Celtic Bracelet at ChrisOsCreations, $13.97

Irish blessing, show your Irish side
Irish Blessing Print at SewLovedShop, $18.00

Irish Linen collar stays, show your Irish side
Irish Linen Collar Stays from Misstiques, $18.00

Oxford mens shoes, show your Irish side
Oxford Mens Shoes, made in Ireland, at MovieStarMale, $95.00

Irish Claves, show your Irish side
Irish Claves by EireAnnStore, $14.19

1795 Map of Ireland, show your Irish side
1795 Map of Ireland at HistoricPerspectives, $24.00

triquetra necklace, show your Irish side
Triquetra Necklace at NatureWithYou, $35.00

bow ties, neckties, and finishers

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Cautionary Tale, of Sorts

cotton florals for summer bow and neck ties

Sometimes no matter how good your intentions everything goes to crap. This, to an extent, is that kind of thing. To a much greater extent, it's a "what not to do" saga.

Last week my son put an ad on Craig's List giving away a derelict 20' sailboat. We did not personally have possession of this boat, but our Sea Scout ship did. This boat was stuck in the water. It had no motor, no sails, no wiring of any sort, not even any lines. It was going to cost about $1000 to pay an expert to take the boat away, so an ad was put up stating the boat was free as scrap, stating clearly that there was nothing on the boat but lead.

sideview, derelict sailboat

A gentleman agreed to pick up the boat the next day. The story is much longer than this but, to sum up this chapter, he arrives at 4:30 pm with two friends and a huge truck with winch. They were the nicest people, and we enjoyed meeting them and hearing their stories. At 5:30 he and a friend take off with the boat, using a trolling motor to get it to the boat ramp. They seemed VERY confident and content with the situation.

Have I mentioned they're from out of town, that it gets dark at 6:30, that this boat may well have water that wasn't pumped out of it, that the boat had no lights or radio, and that the boat ramp is 5 miles away, and they really have no idea how to get there? Can you see where this might be going?

sailboat, for scrap only

About 13 hours later I receive a wake-up call, the boat has not yet arrived at the dock. It's pre-6:00 am, dark and chilly out (not up-north cold, but Florida chilly). The girl who was waiting at the ramp with the truck is now with the sheriff's office and the coast guard and the boat is missing, and she sounded, legitimately, worried. Needless to say, I didn't get any more sleep and spent the next few hours on pins and needles, praying and waiting for them to be found.

About two hours later the coast guard finds the boat and boaters, alive and well. Thank God.

derelict sailboat heading into the canal

They got stuck on a sandbar not too far out and were there all night. Thank God. Had they drifted through the night it could have taken a lot longer to find them and someone else could have hit them, as they had no port or starboard lights.

Why didn't they call for help? Why didn't they see the channel markers? Why didn't they steer away from the sandbar? I don't have the answers, but I heard, after the fact, that they had no cell phone, no flashlight, no life jackets, and just a trolling motor which probably wasn't strong enough to steer them down the river if they had to fight tides. Click here for the newspaper story, if you wish (and a picture of the boat on the sandbar).

floral cotton summer prints, perfect for wedding ties

The moral of the tale? For the sake of those who love you be prepared and safe on the water; anything can happen at any time. For us the additional moral is to pay the expert the $1000 next time, worrying about people's lives wasn't worth saving that money. As much as we wanted to get rid of the boat for free and at the same time help someone else make a buck we should have left the job to the experts.

The fabric in the images? New ties for men, boys, and babies. I had some down time waiting for the gentleman to come get the boat so I took a few pictures. Coming very, very soon to the shop.

derelict sailboat sailing down the canal

bow ties, neckties, men, boys

Friday, February 20, 2015

Matching Shirts and Ties

How to Match Shirts and Ties
Courtesy of BeckettSimonon.com

Five Formal Pocket Square Folds

Five Formal Pocket Square Folds

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Congratulations to Amy, Winner of 23 Blast DVD

Because I'm Me Giveaway winner 23 Blast DVD

Congratulations to Amy, winner of the 23 Blast DVD.

More giveaways coming soon, check back often, add us to your feed reader, or subscribe to our e-mail list so you don't miss any of our awesome sales, giveaways and tie happenings.

Because I'm Me bow tie, necktie pocket square suspenders boys mens teen infant toddler cotton

Friday, February 13, 2015

Birds and Bees Lap Quilt at Sew, Sew Much More

Birds and Bees crosshatch design baby, toddler, lap quilt for girls of any age,

This quilt was quite the labor of love, taking two years and five months to complete.

close-up detail of Birds @ Bees girls quilt, with Tula Pink prints and Kona solids, for infant, toddler, or lap

Confidentially: most of that time it was in a sewing bag waiting for the binding to be handsewn, but it was patient and understanding, and is now quite lovely.

folded Because I'm Me girls zig zag quilt in bright colors, with pink, green, blue, purple cotton

This quilt is crafted from a jelly roll of Tula Pink's Birds and Bees cotton quilting fabrics, with coordinating Kona cotton solids blended in. Bordering the chevron-inspired zigs and zags of color are a few grounding solids.

Because I'm Me girls small quilt, chevron, bright colors, floral, trees

The binding is a delightful complementary red floral and the backside is mostly apple green Kona cotton, with a strip of in Ikea print for interest. The stitching on the quilt is done 'in the ditch' following the patterns in the quilt.

Because I'm Me girls quilt in crosshatch print, Birds and Bees prints by Tula Pink, Kona cotton solids

Birds & Bees is now available at Sew, Sew Much More.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Congratulations to Andrea, Winner of Nourished

Because I'm Me giveaway winner

Congratulations to Andrea, the winner of the Nourish book given away recently reviewed and given away.

There's still a day left to enter to win the 23 Blast DVD. Good luck to you.

Because I'm Me bow tie, necktie, for men and boys

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Very Own Ikea Hack - Sprutt Cabinet

Ikea SPRUTT cabinet hack, new tags, legs

The "hacking" on this Sprutt cabinet is minimal and simple, however I was excited that I discovered and purchased this beauty before it even made it to the Ikea website, leaving me feeling very "in the know", and just had to share.

I was at Ikea recently to look for a cabinet to put between two student desks in the breakfast area. I was leaning towards shelves with baskets, maybe even something like a nightstand - simple, clean, easy to keep tidy, and, preferably, white.

While I failed to measure the open space before going to Ikea, I knew it was about "two chair widths" wide. This coffee table caught my eye, though I wasn't convinced about the color. Ultimately, I decided on this night stand with white drawers from the children's section.

Ikea Sprutt cabinet mod with legs gone and new labels

In the warehouse I went to get the night stand, only to realize it came in way too many pieces and I was way too tired to try to comprehend all that and figure out which pieces I'd need. Not happening. I headed over to Aisle 9, which is where I recalled noting that the coffee table would be. I didn't find it.

Instead, I found this most awesome thing. I hadn't seen it upstairs, but the line drawing on the box sold me. It looked like a library card cabinet. I googled it, to see if I could find a picture of it, and found this one. Sold, sight unseen.

At home I read the measurements on the cabinet box and measured the space. Perfect fit, with maybe 1/8" to spare. How much more perfect could it be? It was meant to be.

Adam was in charge of putting the cabinet together and delegating tasks to his brothers. Once the cabinet was together we put it in place. Except it didn't fit. The measurements on the box were 1/2" off. Uh oh.

My Ikea hack: I removed the casters from the legs and cut off the legs using my handy dandy sawzall (thank you, camper, for forcing me to buy tools), which made it fit just under, but still between, the two desks with no room at all to spare. I was able to add the plastic "feet"/casters back into the leg openings, but not the adjustable bits below the feet. Wonderfully, now that the cabinet is shorter it blocks much less light from the window and gives the kids an extra counter for "in use" stuff. The simple, necessary hack made the piece an even more perfect addition to the space than it would have been otherwise.

The cabinet came with bright white, pink, and yellow labels, which were lovely but not quite what I wanted, so I made my own.

The labels are simply fabric fused to super stiff interfacing. They give a nice little touch of color to the white end of the room and make the awesome cabinet stand out, creating intrigue as to what's stored in the drawers. Of course, they can easily be changed out as desired, allowing the piece to be used in a variety of spaces or even decorated seasonally.

SPRUTT cabinet mod, legs gone, new tags, perfect for desk area

Of course, now that we have nine drawers to fill and organize another trip to Ikea is a necessity, right?

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Perfect Modern Suit

The perfect suit for the  modern man
Courtesy of ManMade manmadediy.com

Sew Sew Much More Quilts, Camera Strap Covers, Crayon Holders, and More

Review and Giveaway: 23 Blast DVD

"One kid who thought he could do nothing ended up doing more than most people. This affects me because it tells people not to give up." - Adam Sanders

review and giveaway 23 blast dvd football movie

Travis Freeman was a high school football star with a perfect cheerleader girlfriend and a seemingly perfect, right on track, life. He had the world at his fingertips until an infection left him suddenly, irreversibly blind.

23 Blast tells his story, how he overcame incredible odds to do what no one, especially himself, believed he could do.

Be sure to enter the giveaway for your own copy of 23 Blast at the bottom of this post.

This movie is based on the real life story of Travis Freeman, an educator and minister who became blind as a child and did, truly, play football.

When the kids and I were given the opportunity to review this movie I jumped at the chance, thinking that this type of amazing success story would be a great lesson for the kids and, because it's about a football player, would keep them entertained. It seemed like a really good fit for this home full of boys.

We gathered together, popcorn at the ready, and, in no time at all, were hooked on this film. Very good family entertainment. We laughed, mostly at scenes between Travis and his best friend, Jerry Baker. Jerry is a bit of a troublemaker and clearly likes to have a good time - going as far as to let Travis, blind, drive his truck, which left us laughing so hard we couldn't stop. I cried a tear or two. And we cheered Travis on as he learned to live with his new found blindness and thrive doing the things he loved.

The real-life Travis Freeman has a cameo in the movie, playing a preacher speaking in church to the character Travis Freeman. The kids liked that, it gave them a "real person" to put with the movie and added a lot of credibility to the movie for them.

Other actors of the movie include Alexa Vega, Mark Hapka, Max Adler, Fred Thompson, Kim Zimmer, and Timothy Busfield (not going to lie, I've had a little crush on him since thirtysomething).

The movie is rated PG-13, because of a scene depicting underage drinking. Personally, I didn't even notice this at the time and it certainly didn't seem like anything that isn't on regular tv; and the drinking wasn't glamorized in any way, it was clear that Travis didn't have respect for that type of thing.

The kids and I really liked this movie and recommend it a heartfelt family movie. The movie is currently out on video and can be found where movies are sold, and online at amazon.com. Or you could be the one lucky winner who wins their own copy of 23 Blast here! Just enter below and good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winner and opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a copy of the movie, 23 Blast, in exchange for this review and post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: Nourished

Book review and giveaway; Nourished, a Search for Health, Happines, and a Full Night's Sleep at Because I'm Me
" ... a Full Night's Sleep ... " ... that got my interest.

This book is definitely geared towards the women in the audience - those of us who do as much as we possibly can, and then a little more. Those of us who are tired, stressed, and feeling less than 100% because our lives just don't flow as smoothly as a Leave it to Beaver episode. This book is for us.

~ Be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post after reading the review. ~

Nourished is written by a mother and daughter team, Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph. Both women are bloggers, Becky at Laugh, Cry, Cook, and Rachel at The Nourished Mama. While the two are related they have very different points of view in most areas, allowing them to present and conquer different challenges from a variety of angles.

As I've mentioned recently and you can see by looking around, this blog is going through some updates and changes. It's a pretty major make-over that will include new logos, new site, new marketing, a shop of my very own (in addition to the Etsy shop, it's not going anywhere!), new focus ... all in all, a pretty big task for a woman who majored in Marketing when brick-and-mortar businesses were the way of the world and internet based businesses didn't exist. I'm learning a lot but have so far to go. This book, offering a respite from this crazy life, came at a perfect time (though finding moments to read it weren't easy to come by - thank goodness for those rare moments during the school day) and has helped me to stay grounded in the midst of this craziness.

The book begins by explaining the problem: we women need to recognize our stressors, and, bit by bit, find ways to make our lives work for us and our families in ways that are more nourishing. The authors list what they feel are women's top ten stressors: chaotic surroundings, too much to do, negative body image, negative self talk, fitness, marriage, friendship, parenting, food issues, and spiritual issues.

Enter now! Book Review and Giveaway; Nourished
After listing those stressors the remainder of the book offers suggestions for minimizing personal conflict in those areas, beginning with getting the house in order and ending with spiritual development.

I'm kind of a neat-nick when it comes to my house, I don't like clutter at all. With this crew and our schedules we really need order so that chaos doesn't win and I firmly believe that begins with a clean house. Even still, there were things I took away from that particular chapter as I was reminded that I didn't do a deep cleaning when the kids were gone last summer (we were busy laying the wood floors) and am due for one next summer.

Each chapter provides valuable suggestions accompanied by Becky and Rachel's "real life" experiences. Just as it's much easier to relate to and learn from a friend's personal experiences the same holds true in this book, there were plenty of "oh, I've been there" moments in the book.

A take-away from the book was the idea of "stable misery"; avoiding making radical adjustments for the better because the discomfort and uncertainty of change is more frightening than the current misery we've grown comfortable with. I am not plagued by this, but there are some areas in my life in which I could use a motivating kick in the rear - I don't think we consciously choose to be less than happy, often it doesn't even cross our minds that change is an option (how often do we spend 5 minutes fixing something broken in our homes and wonder why we didn't fix it years ago? Or is that just me?).

This softcover book, Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night's Sleep,  is 253 pages long and available at major retailers. More information about the book can be found at Laugh, Cry, Cook and at The Nourished Mama.

Enter below to win your copy of this refreshingly delightful book. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What's New?

bow ties and neckties for men and boys

Meander on over to the shop and see what's new this week. Our selection changes often and there's always something for everyone. Be sure to check out the "SALE" section for some great deals on retired ties.

Camera strap covers, quilts, and crayon holders have moved to our sister shop, Sew Sew Much More, to make room for more ties and accessories at Because I'm Me.