Monday, June 30, 2014

July 4th Hot Spots: Cool Places in Southern Virginia to Celebrate Independence Day

July 4th is right around the corner, and if you're looking for fireworks or a grand celebration, Southern Virginia and surrounding area is booming with places and ways  to celebrate our great nation's independence! These patriotic celebrations will have you waving Old Glory before you can say Yankee Doodle Dandy! Take a look at this list, and hopefully you can find something fun for the whole family!
Thursday, July 3, 2014 Race and Fireworks
South Boston Speedway, South Boston, Virginia: Get your fireworks fix starting this Thursday, July 3 at the South Boston Speedway! Dr. and Mrs. Maresca of St. Lawrence Radiology present the Thunder Road Harley Davidson NASCAR Late Model 200/Limited 100/Pure Stock 50 with fireworks to follow. Tickets $15 in advance available at the South Boston-Halifax County Visitor Center. Learn more at
Friday, July 4, 2014  Independence Day Celebration
Patrick Henry National Memorial, Brookneal, Virginia: Would you like to experience Independence Day on the same ground as America’s first patriot? Come spend this Fourth of July at the garden spot of the world, Patrick Henry’s Red Hill! Events begin at 3:00PM with fireworks at dusk and the gate closing at 9:00PM. Admission for the 2014 Independence Day Celebration is $10 per car - up to 5 passengers; $2 for each additional passenger. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to comfortably watch Patrick Henry give his speech at 7:00 and to watch the fantastic fireworks display at 9:15. You might also want to bring a flashlight to aide you after dark. Please do NOT bring any alcohol, personal fireworks (including sparklers), grills, or pets; for safety reasons, all these are prohibited. There will be no re-entry after 5:00PM! Patrick Henry’s Red Hill, America’s first patriot’s home and burial site is the perfect place to celebrate being an American! Step back in time with us and help us celebrate Independence Day this July 4th! For more info, go to
Friday, July 4, 2014 Clarksville, Virginia 4th of July Parade
Clarksville, Virginia: Show your patriotism to the great United States of America and salute our Veterans by being a participant or a spectator at the 2014 Independence Day Parade in Clarksville On the Lake! This year’s event, sponsored by the Clarksville Ruritans, is slated for Historic Downtown Clarksville on July 4, at 11 am. Immediately following the parade, everyone will be treated to free hot dogs and soft drinks, compliments of the Clarksville Ruritans. For more details about the parade and the cook-out, go to Clarksville's events page here.
Friday, July 4, 2014 Fourth of July Celebration
Danville, Virginia:   Spend July 4 at Carrington Pavillion in Danville among family and friends! The children's area will have free arts and crafts with magic provided by Captain Jim. Amusement rides will be available. Entertainment will be provided by Janice Price. Food concessions will be available. A grand fireworks display after dark (weather permitting). 6-10 pm, Free Admission.  Details here!
Friday, July 4, 2014 July 4th Parade
Roxboro, NC: Come out and celebrate Independence Day 11 am until Noon on Main Street at the Roxboro NC 4th of July Parade! Parade to be help on main Street, Roxboro. For details, see Person County's event calendar here.
July 4, 2014 Celebrate America hosted by Thomas Road Baptist Church
Lynchburg, Virginia: Join us for carnival rides, food, games, and music beginning at 3pm in Liberty University's Williams Football Stadium for our annual Celebrate America extravaganza. The musical celebration will begin at 7:30 pm and finish with the largest fireworks display in Central Virginia! There will be no admission or parking fee. You and your family are invited to be a part of this exciting celebration.
July 4-5, 2014  Kings Dominion Military Days
Doswell, Virginia: King s Dominion pays tribute to our brave men and women in the United States Armed Services by offering free admission July 4-5 to those active, inactive, or retired military persons with a valid military ID. See more about this program here.  To all military, past and present, thank you for your service.
As for these two little patriots, my husband and I are taking them for the very first time to the Red Hill Independence Day Celebration. We are heading to Red Hill with a couple of other families, and are each taking picnic set ups and a couple of dishes to share. We will eat, the children will play, we'll listen to Patrick Henry give his famous speech, and we will watch the fireworks overhead while I get all misty-eyed as usual. Whatever you decide, remember to be safe, wear sunscreen, and have lots of all-American fun! Oh, and one more thing! If you know of an event not listed here in Southern Virginia and surrounding area, please share it with the rest of us. Feel free to leave a comment, and as always, you are welcome to share.

God Bless America!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Woodlawn Plantation Tour and Luncheon, Clover, Virginia

A few weeks ago I posted an article about my visit with friends Mark and Jeanene Krogh, who have been restoring Woodlawn Plantation in Clover, Virginia.  Their dedication to this restoration is admirable, and the time and effort they have invested in this 18th century Virginia plantation home is impressive.  Read the article about Woodlawn Plantation here.
This weekend marks 150 years since the Battle of Staunton River Bridge, an American Civil War battle, and thousands of people are at the Staunton River Battlefield State Park this very weekend to commemorate this historic event. The Kroghs opened their home this weekend in conjunction with the commemoration for a luncheon and tour of the property. They invited our family to attend as their guests, of which we were all very appreciative. The Kroghs are a lovely family, and we have enjoyed getting to know them better and learning about their home, their stories, and their history. 
To read more about the Battle of Staunton River Bridge and the Staunton River Battlefield State Park, go to

The Krogh Gentlemen,father Mark and son Matthew, dressed in character as the Coleman family who originally resided at Woodlawn Plantation during the 18th and 19th centuries. They guided groups through the home while explaining the history and the restoration process.
Mrs. Krogh (left), her daughter Jaclyn, and daughter-in-law Juliann (right) served as a tour guide, photographer, and in the kitchen as well.  Mrs. Krogh prepared deviled eggs, chicken salad, barbecue, baked beans,  cole slaw, rolls, refreshing mint tea, and for dessert, a divine Virginia Walnut cake and the fitting Robert E. Lee cake, for both of which I will be requesting the recipe.  Yesterday may have been my first experience with Robert E. Lee cake, but I assure you, it won't be my last.
Mark Krogh, Mark Thackston (my husband), with Jim Luedtke, who is not only a friend of ours and the Kroghs, but is a very talented builder and woodcrafter who handcrafted the replica dentil moulding on the exterior of Woodlawn Plantation. My husband told me after we got home home last night, that he sure was glad Mark Krogh changed out of his costume after the tour and joined us on the lawn for lunch. While the men were talking about man things, Carrington and I explored the old Henry Coleman family cemetery.  We almost decided to not walk down to the cemetery, because it is so badly grown up with weeds and vines that we feared for chiggars and other critters, but I am so glad we opted to go. What an incredible little grown-over jewel! And talk about a photo op!

Well, you know what they say, a picture says a thousand words. I recently bought a Canon camera, and I have been playing around with the features, learning a few lighting and focus tricks, and this really was a playground for me and my new toy. I learned that you don't have to be a professional photographer to have fun with your camera, and that with a little inspiration and a creative eye, you can take some blog worthy photos to be proud of.  To sum it up, I will let the following photos tell the story and convey the feel of this picture perfect day. 

Antiquity meets modernity, as my daughter Courtland finds a quiet spot underneath the hanging lantern by the old horse drawn carriage to check her text messages on her iPod.
Our family had a wonderful morning and afternoon, and are so appreciative of the opportunity to spend the day here at Woodlawn Plantation in Clover, Virginia. I can not say enough nice things about this family, their efforts to renovate this beautiful old Southern Virginia home, and of course, Mrs. Krogh's cooking! Thank you, thank you Jeanene and gracious Krogh family for allowing us to be your guests!

SoVA Mom, Erin, enjoying a beautiful day with son Carrington at Woodlawn Plantation. Thanks so much for stopping by to read about Woodlawn Plantation.  Read more about how our family of four loves making the most of life in Southern Virginia at SoVA Mom Home.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

524 Fitness Community and Me - Together Again!

I posted after Mother's Day that I had asked for and received a month of personal training with Kasey Rising at 524 in Halifax, Virginia. I went to 524 and took some pictures, posted them, and talked about my enthusiasm for beginning this workout regimen and shift toward healthier living.  Read the first 524 article here.
I initially worked out  at 524 during a free week about 5 weeks ago. It was tough, just being honest.  I worked out every day, and I wonder if I didn't over exert myself, having gone into this after too long with no real exercise regimen or consistent workout patterns. The Monday following my first week, an old stomach muscle injury came back to haunt me. Through no fault of the trainer, my stomach muscle injury caused me to have to take the next two weeks off from working out. ROADBLOCK!
It is so easy for me to get off track sometimes, and so hard to get back on, so I had to make a committment to myself that if these roadblocks popped up along the journey, I would simply wait for the danger to pass, then hop back on the path again. 
Yesterday finished out my second week of working out again, this time every other day instead of daily. Even though I decided to take it slower, I feel like in just a couple of weeks I have built up strength, particularly in my arms, and am faster than I was at the timed exercises just two or three weeks ago.
This is what was on the board when I went into 524 yesterday, not including the wall walks (warm up exercises) and the planks (core exercies done after workout).  I am still working my way up to doing all of the exercises, and Kasey allows me to do modified pushups and modified toes to bar. Instead I hold the bar and pull my knees to my stomach, until I can do more. Every day the warm ups, exercises, and core exercises are listed on the board, and they vary from day to day.
After your workout, your times are posted on the board like this:
I can not tell you how happy I am to finally be back on the board! Not too shabby for my second week back, if I do say so.
Since my first post a few weeks ago, Kasey has secured a bunch more clients. She is also in the process of moving her business to a different location in Halifax, and with her influx of clientele, she has been able to hire two more trainers, Trevor and Stephen. Welcome, guys!  I met Stephen yesterday, and he showed me how to do the wall walks, and encouraged me during my workout. I know Kasey is thrilled to have both Stephen and Trevor on her team!
Kasey and Stephen at 524 Fitness Community in Halifax, Virginia
Again, so happy to be back at 524! Until next time, I leave you with these words of truth:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Historic Woodlawn Plantation in Clover, Virginia: An Afternoon of Friends, Mint Tea, and Southern Hospitality

Woodlawn Plantation 
"On a high hill near Staunton River several miles east of Clover, Woodlawn stands silently, a dominant landmark for more than 200 years." These descriptive words introduce readers to Woodlawn Plantation in Kenneth Cook's article in the News and Record on September 17, 1976.  Read more of Kenneth Cook's article and learn about the incredible history of this old plantation home in Halifax County, Virginia here.  
When Mark and Jeanene Krogh purchased Woodlawn Plantation in Clover, Virginia, twelve years ago, the home was in complete disrepair.  They spent ten years commuting back and forth from their home on Virginia's Eastern Shore to Halifax County to work on renovating the house, before moving to Woodlawn Plantation full time just two years ago.  The Kroghs have been thorough and extremely patient in their renovation efforts.  I spent the day visiting with the Kroghs at Woodlawn last Friday. I was shown true Southern hospitality as refreshing mint tea and warm apple pie were served.  Mark Krogh was kind enough to give me a guided tour of Woodlawn, going into detail about the plantation home's history, the condition of the plantation when they first purchased it, and details about the exhaustive restoration efforts.
I was greeted at Woodlawn by Jeanene Krogh's lovely pink peonies, a welcoming sight on the front lawn.  The Kroghs brought the decorative vane with them when they moved to Woodlawn Plantation from Virginia's Eastern Shore. 
To say that Mark Krogh builds things is an understatement. He does build quality structures and pieces, but he is a quality craftsman who builds and creates with appreciation of historic accuracy and detailing which shows in his work. When the Kroghs purchased Woodlawn, the porch literally fell off the side of the house and could not be repaired. Mark built this west portico in its place, which serves as a side entrance and porch. He had the detailed brick work placed by a Halifax County brick mason.  Mint, lemon mint, and rosemary grow alongside this portico. An antique church bench passed down from Colonial Williamsburg was a gift to the Krouhs by the owners of The Seasons of Williamsburg.  The brickwork pictured below is original to the home, but the grate is one of two handcrafted replicas of the existing grates around the home.     
The soffits, dentil work, shutters, and gorgeous molding are all original to the home.
The porch is a creation of Thomas Day, an educated son of a freedman and highly skilled and sought after craftsman in Virginia and North Carolina in the early 19th century.  His skilled craftsmanship can still be admired throughout Halifax County.
The North Portico, seen here, was built by Mark Krogh. This portico faces the Staunton River, and the Krogh's vision of the future of the property includes extending a walkway from this area to the river.
Woodlawn Plantation's North Portico
Jeanene has taken numerous classes over the years, such as a hearth cooking class, a windsor chair making class (she has made 8 of her 21 windsor chairs herself), and a floor cloth making class, among others.  Floor cloths would have been used in homes such as this one during the eighteenth century and beyond.  While Jeanene learned how to make her own, and has made some smaller floor cloths, she had a professional floor cloth artist, Miriam Riggs, construct and hand paint this floor cloth in 2006 to fit the hallway floor. 
Mark and Jeanene had the mantle pictured above crafted and installed before discovering in the attic a part of the chair rail originally in this room. The mantle would have matched the chair rail, so a replica of what the original mantle would have looked like was commissioned, and a local woodcrafter has created the mantlepiece pictured above.  The mantle currently used will eventually be taken off, and the replica of the original will be installed.  The attention to detail in restoring this home is impressive.  The Kroghs have had paint analysis completed for the home and have repainted using paint colors that would have been original to the home, as well as calcimine paint which was used in the 18th century.   The paint in this picture appears to be much brighter than it is. It is in reality a much softer shade.

Jeanene has had a lifelong love of early American history, and knew as a little girl that she wanted to eventually restore old homes. Her love directed her to her working as a docent in a historic home on the Eastern Shore, eventually earning a position as the museum director. At age 18, she also began collecting and now has an impressive collection of 18th century Chinese import Rose Medallion china to show for it, along with many other beautiful collections of china, dinnerware, pottery, pewter, and 18th century furnishings.

This china set arrive in the United States with Mark Krogh's family in the eighteenth century, was inherited by Mark and Jeanene, and now graces Woodlawn's sitting room just above Jeanene's Rose Medallion collection.   

More eighteenth century collections are displayed throughout the home. These pieces can be found in the dining room, along with an antique checkers table and more windsor chairs, including the high back chairs which the Kroghs' sons have named the King and Queen's chairs. 
These are two of the seven eighteenth century spinning wheels that would have been used in the home during its early years.  The Kroghs have these two spinning wheels upstairs, but hope to eventually have these two and others back downstairs where they originally would have been used. 
The Kroghs have gone to great effort to repair walls and ceilings, and have painted in original paint using paint analysis and original paint techniques. Why, then, do you think they left this windowsill in the second floor hallway undone?  Look closely to see the signature which reads, "M. C. Harrison July 29, 1889." I love that they left this as is.
After touring most of the home, we settled in the kitchen with our mint tea. Jeanene served the best homemade apple pie, warm from the oven.  I truly felt like I had stepped back in time, eating apple pie, looking out the kitchen window onto the expansive green lawn.  To my back was this original fireplace and hearth displaying Jeanene's collection of hearth cooking tools.  In addition to floor cloth making, windsor chair making classes, she has also taken a hearth cooking class, and promises that it is just as easy as cooking in an electric oven, you just need to have the right tools.  The mantle serves as a display shelf for Jeanene's collection of irons. Carter's Grove Plantation in Williamsburg, Virginia, which has recently been in the news for being sold at auction back to Colonial Willimasburg, was home to this collection prior to Jeanene purchasing them at auction years ago, as they belonged to Mrs. Molly McRae who lived at Carter's Grove in the last century.
Jeanene's sweet iced tea, which she makes using fresh Woodlawn Plantation mint, makes for a refreshing treat. Jeanene makes this tea regularly for guests, who often request it when visiting.  
Jeanene's delicious warm apple pie served on beautiful blue and white plate from her extensive antique china collection.

When the Kroghs purchased Woodlawn Plantation in Clover, Virginia, near the Staunton River Battlefield State Park, they knew they had a great deal of research and intense labor ahead of them in restoring this old home to its original state and splendor.  It is not often that one finds an old plantation home that has not been refurbished, remodeled, or otherwise modernized, and that's one of the reasons that Jeanene was initially drawn to this property.  

When the Kroghs first began to renovate the home, there was virtually no modernization at all. There was no plumbing, no electricity, no bathroom, no locks on doors, and no steps to even get into the house.  They camped outside in tents, used a portable bathroom, and showered in camping showers.  Woodlawn Plantation's previous owners most likely believed that the house was uninhabitable and would be torn down when sold. The doorknobs, locks, and hardware had been sold. Securing the foundation of the home was the first order of business the Kroghs attended to, but following that was clearing out the bees, snakes, rodents, and other pests. Generations of bees and pests had made this vacant structure their home, and ridding them from the home was no easy task, especially considering the state the home was in.  After securing the foundation, they had to install door knobs and locks and 80 window panes.   
There is still much work ahead of the Kroghs in renovating this old home. This is a picture of the kitchen ceiling. The ceilings in both the kitchen and dining room have been removed and will be reinstalled once repaired.  This picture serves as a reminder of not only how hard and in what detail they have worked, but also in how much is yet to come.  This home is the third historic property they have renovated, but it has been the most monumental and the biggest labor of love yet.   
The Kroghs have planned to open their home to the public on Saturday, June 21, 2014 for lunch and a tour of the home and property.  Jeanene plans to prepare a plantation luncheon of pulled pork or chicken salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw, baked beans, rolls, Virginia Walnut Cake, and a glass of wine, mint tea, or water.  Pre-registration and payment of $25 per person is required, which includes the tour and buffet-style luncheon.  To pre-register for the tour and luncheon, please call Jeanene Krogh at 434-454-6907 or email her at  Checks may be mailed to Jeanene Krogh, Woodlawn, 6011 Clover Road, Randolph, VA 23962. Proceeds from the luncheon and tour will go toward continued renovation efforts at Woodlawn Plantation.
To drive to Woodlawn Plantation from South Boston, Virginia, take 360 east. Exit onto the second Clover exit, or Mosely Ferry Road. Turn right at the first intersection onto Main Street, which becomes Clover Road.  Continue on, passing by the power plant. Woodlawn is one mile past the power plant on the left.
As I was leaving Woodlawn last Friday after my visit, Mark had potted some Woodlawn mint and lemon mint for me.  I took both herbs home and planted them at my own house, and am now the proud owner of two mint plants in my own yard.  I can not wait to make my own mint tea, though I doubt it will be a good as Jeanene's!  There's something about sipping mint tea at the charming Woodlawn that can't be exactly replicated, but who says I can't try?
Indian Grindstone on the Woodlawn Property
Update: Our family attended the Guided Tour and Luncheon yesterday, June 21, 2014. We had a lovely day, which you can read all about here in this article