Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith

Friday, December 28, 2012

Oh my gosh... is it death for the blog?


Since I have discovered Facebook, it has been pretty quiet out here in my blog land.  My nearly insatiable need to post photos and write cute captions has been quite satisfied by the social media format.

It's not like I'm trying to sell anything.

It's not like I have a life changing message to deliver.  Although I do have this:

Which is my new life map...

But it has already been posted to FB, so it is kinda old news.

I know that the blog has taken a back seat (maybe even a spot in the trailer!) since there is not a peep here about "the cutest puppy in the world" aka Magpie.

If you aren't going to blog about this, I mean what do you have left?

and now that itty bitty baby is this big, black monster:

Still pretty cute though, right?
Not really a monster, but let's say highly energetic...

anyway, I guess only time will tell if I still enjoy writing little stories here and sharing photos from our wacky crazy slightly different from the norm life!

Have a happy, healthy, super new year! 

2012 rocked over here, and we are hoping that 2013 will be even better (I can't tell you how awesome it is when you start to hit your stride with something...)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Can you dig it?

My beautiful tri-color potatoes!
What is it about canning jars that makes them so beautiful?
 Guess what we did last Sunday?

That's right, me and two of my favorite gal pals canned!  It was super fun.  Anyone who knows me knows that it is just next to impossible to keep me inside when the weather is nice.  Add in the word "kitchen" and I am definitely AWOL... So you know it takes some fun friends to keep me by the stove top on one of the last of the nice fall days!

Lisa and me "stirrin' the pot"
Jamie, Lisa and I spent the day cooking and canning salsa and potatoes.  I have only one photo of Jamie, as she moves pretty quickly and absconded with the photo taking device early on in the proceedings.

There's Jamie! Moving so fast her hair is in a twirl!
Lisa brought her salsa ingredients chopped and ready to go.  I had big plans to make salsa too, but when I went to harvest the last of my tomatoes in the little greenhouse... well let's just say that not looking at them for a week in hopes that the frost hadn't frozen them is not really an effective strategy.  Think cheap, thin plastic bag filled with water- that was the consistency of my enormous, yet inedible tomato beauties :(

Lisa needed a couple more cups of peppers for her salsa, so she started cutting up some freebies I had gotten at work.  She even tasted them and said they were not hot at all.  She gave me a little piece and Holy Smacks!  I had to spit it out.  I thought they were anchos, but apparently they were jalapenos!
um... yeah, I didn't take the finished jar of salsa that was generously offered (I have zero tolerance for hot stuff!)

Here are some beautiful photos of the salsa!!

Hot stuff baby, woo hoo...

Pretty pretty!!
One thing I have to tell you is you must be very careful when working around boiling water and hot canning jars.

Notice my rapt attention on the boiling hot jar...
Lisa is a little more careful here, filling the jars!

Jamie spent the morning scrubbing and peeling the potatoes from my garden.(Thank you Jamie- you're the bomb!) 

I love canning potatoes (you MUST pressure can them!).  Well, I don't know if I love the canning part, but I love having ready to heat and eat potatoes for the rest of the year!

Here they are all scrubbed up and the scabby ones peeled, ready to be chopped into chunks. 
Here I am sporting my cute new apron that my sister got me for my birthday!
Into the pressure cooker with you!
And just a short 3 hours later...
Just to clarify, the taters don't get pressure canned for 3 hours, but you have to:
  1. scrub, peel, chunk them (Only the scabby ones got peeled, the rest got to retain their beautiful unblemished skins)
  2. Par boil them for about 2 minutes (which really means about twenty minutes from the time you drop those babies in a water filled pot and turn the burner on)
  3. pack the jars with parboiled potatoes
  4. remember that you were supposed to boil water to pour over them
  5. boil water
  6. ladle boiling water over the potatoes in the jars
  7. realize that you didn't put enough lids in the heating water
  8. put lids (mostly heated up) and rings on
  9. remember that you should have turned up the heat on the pressure cooker burner
  10. put the jars in, lock the lid down, realize you will have to spin the whole pot around so that you can read the gauge
  11. wait for the water to boil inside the sealed cooker (steam has to escape through the little valve for 10 minutes before you seal it)
  12. Remember that you never turned the heat up
  13. Turn up the heat
  14. Frantically run around trying to remember where you put the weight that seals the cooker steam valve (amazingly, it is in the box with all the canning stuff in a bag labeled: Pressure Cooker Regulator)
  15. Drop the regulator on the steam valve and wait for it to build to 12 pounds (this takes way longer than you would imagine...)
  16. Freak out a little because you forgot that the plug thing on the front is supposed to pop up- it is not the emergency pressure relief valve.
  17. Fiddle with the temperature control knob trying to keep it at 12 pounds for then next 40 minutes.
  18. Move it off the burner to cool, so you can get the lid off without an explosion (I don't remember exactly, but it seemed like an hour)
  19. Repeat from step 3 for the next batch...
 We had chocolate cake too, but apparently we were too busy eating it to photograph it!!

All in all a very productive day and big thanks to Jamie and Lisa for coming over to make it happen.  I will think of you every time we eat potatoes this year! (well, I'm sure I will think of you all at other times too, but you know what I mean!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This morning's harvest...

Sometimes I forget that I AM living the dream.

I forget because sometimes "the dream" is hard work.  sometimes it's hot.  sometimes I'm tired. sometimes it seems like there is more to do than there is time to do it.

But sometimes I remember.

This morning's eggs
collected fresh

washed and left to air dry.
Fresh picked raspberries for our smoothies!

and the

Pièce de résistance:

the first tomato!
for size comparison, a quarter!

Blurry, yet beautiful...

 Sometimes, I remember.  

And when I remember, life is sweet.

And the dream, spectacular.

 I hope you are all enjoying the last few days of summer.  It goes by fast (like life) so remember to get out and revel in it!




Monday, August 20, 2012

Craft as therapy

Crochet Saved My Life

I recently heard about this book through a Facebook page called Moogly. (Moogly has all sorts of great crochet patterns- you should check it out!)

So I went and read all about it on the Crochet Concupiscence website.  I read the introduction on the Amazon Kindle "look inside!" link (a feature I LOVE!) which you can access here:  And I am fascinated by it.  Fascinated by the subject matter, the format, the fact that it is self-published and the courage it must have take Kathryn Vercillo to tell the story.

I read the Bios of the women who shared their stories for this book.  It amazes me what people have lived through, how they cope day to day with debilitating illness, trauma (physical, emotional and psychological), pain.  Their courage and willpower humble me.

Originally I started this post in response to a give away:
 "as part of a Crochet Concupiscence giveaway for the new book Crochet Saved My Life" 

But now, I just want to get the word out about this wonderful book and spread the idea that crochet (and hand crafts in general)  are beneficial to your mental and physical health. 

And, for me at least, they are also beneficial to the health of those around me (as in when I have my crochet hook in hand I am way less likely to want to grab you around the neck for moving so slowly :)...)

Therefore, if I am randomly selected as one of the 5 recipients of this book, there will be an ensuing give away here.  Because I am buying a copy.

Read, enjoy and spread the word!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Horse Camp

Wow...  It is kind of hard to believe it is over already.  After months nay years of wishing and months of anticipation and a full day of stomach wrenching anxiety... now I am on the "done" side of Horse Camp.

For those of you too impatient busy to read this whole post, I can sum it up in two words:

life-changingly awesome

I mean Horse Camp, not necessarily this post :)

Cheyenne, enjoying his dinner at camp!
So it all began on Thursday, the day before official camp beginning, the day my dearest, darling husband had agreed to cut short his sleep and drive my under-confident butt to Hunters, WA.  With, of course, my buddy sour, never been trailered by himself, slightly over-reactive gelding (Cheyenne- as seen in the photo above) in the trailer. I spent the morning packing, worrying and practicing loading him (better late than never?)  He did pretty well and I was feeling pretty good about myself, although I later found out that our loading technique is about a C-, passing but just barely.

The drive was surprisingly (and refreshingly) uneventful, although we didn't leave early enough for Brian to get home with much time to get ready for work! Luckily, I am now feeling confident enough to drive the "big rig" myself.  Next year.  When I go to camp again.  Yes, I'm telling you it was THAT GREAT!

So here is a nice view of the whole ranch, photo courtesy of Rother Horsemanship:

Horse Creek Ranch home of School of Horse, Hunters, WA
 We unloaded, unhitched and Brian took off of like the whirlwind he is.  Cheyenne had his own paddock to hang out in:

He's a good eater, that one...
Which was in a super location above the big outdoor arena:

yes, the big red arrow points at him
My digs were even cooler.

The cabin.  No inside views, because as anyone who knows me knows... I am a little piggy and I don't want to post photos of my dirty laundry strewn all about..  Trust me the inside is equally awesome.
and the views... spectacular

So, I should say here that Steve and Francesca are just about the nicest, most down to earth, hardworking people you would ever want to meet.  They run the whole ranch by themselves, although they did have 1 (yes one) intern, Brandy, to help while we were there.  Brandy is also a super gal and a fearless rider!

Since camp didn't officially start until Friday, I didn't meet all the rest of the gals until the next morning. There were 7 of us:
  • Cherie and Linda from WA (they stayed in Cherie's super cool new living quarters horse trailer), 
  • Hedi from Alberta (yes Canada- she traveled the farthest! and she stayed in her trailer as well), 
  • Tena from WA (she lives just a short ferry ride from the ranch.  She stayed in her camper), 
  • Anita from AK (she flew down, no, not with her horse- she leased a ranch horse. She stayed in the little air-conditioned house down the road),
  • Morghaine from OR (she is under 18 so her super mom was there with us all day, even though she didn't ride!- they also stayed in the little house) 
  • and me.

This is one of the funnest groups I have ever been a part of, just sayin'.  We started out not knowing each other at all and by the last evening had already made plans to reconvene next year.

I know, I know enough about people and places- where's the horse stuff? Okay, okay.

The first morning we were asked to have our horses saddled and in the arena by 9:30 am.  It was predicted to be record warm temperatures that week (of course) so we changed up the daily routine and spent the hottest part of the day in the shady classroom.

Let me just say, in my own defense, that I have never had any formal horsemanship training.

Picture this:
6 skilled women putting their horses through the paces from the ground

and me...
flailing and chasing my horse around while he pulled me by the lead rope around the arena.

Yeah, luckily no photos of that. But here's one of Hedi and April (taken by Francesca I think...)

Hedi wasn't completely happy with this lope... I on the other hand would have been happy to not look like a kite flying behind my horse!
Anyway... Steve helped me out with Cheyenne (who, in his defense, is a really good boy with a lot of try and a teeny bit of a temper) and finally got him to lope in a circle - yay!

Then (and listen up because this is actually the most important, take home lesson here) Steve kept on me to do it.  Not in a nagging sort of way or a bossy sort of way, but in a "you know you can" sort of way, while interjecting helpful comments like "keep on him, keep on him. There! He tried now stop."  I just have to say hearing on DVD or reading in articles the key element:

The reward is in the release.

and experiencing it are two entirely different things. Release for my horse does not equal running up and saying good boy, good boy, good boy and patting his neck... He could give a crap about that.  His release is me stopping and letting him stand still.  And unless you've done this you have no idea how hard it is to

All my fear and nervousness disappeared as I starting using tools that actually worked.  I no longer cared that I wasn't as skilled as my camp-mates at certain things, I discovered my try.  It was unbelievable.  And even though I am still a flailer when it comes to ropes and such, I am willing to give it a go!

I am continually amazed at how much I don't know, even when I know I don't know much... ya know?

As a kid, I learned to ride with this philosophy:
  1. Go: kick
  2. Stop: pull reins back (as hard as necessary)
  3. right turns: pull rein right (as hard as necessary)
  4. left turns: pull rein left (as hard as necessary)
As you can see there is little finesse in this operation (and no room for things like, say backing or side-passing)  I added some nuances as time went by, like clicking, clucking, kissing, talking, cursing etc. with limited success.

But then, I went to camp :)

I won't give away all the secrets of what I learned, and even if I write them it would not be the same as experiencing it, but I want to share this basic thing that I did not know.  Did you know that you carry with you at all times the 4 primary riding aids?  Oh, you did?  Well I didn't.
  1. Seat
  2. Legs
  3. Voice
  4. Hands
Yeah, amazing.  I can now stop my horse with my butt, I mean my seat... cool.  And reins are NOT just for pulling his head around.

Okay, I know enough talk, let's see some photos!!!  Here are some shots of the trail course that Steve and Francesca built.  (Francesca took all of these photos)

 BIG STEP! Go Cheyenne!

Tena and Rio in the water obstacle.

And Anita and Ruby
Hedi on the Bridge over the water obstacle!!

I love this one- here is everybody doing something. Including Linda and Blue having a "discussion" in the background!!

Steve and Shiner.  We were all wondering what to do with this one!!
And then we moved some cattle (who seemed to know the routine... I'm just sayin')
In the arena
Morghaine and Rain, the masked mare
and through the pasture
 It is so fun to have a job to do with your horse.  Even if you aren't very good at it- I let the yearlings slip by me not once, not twice but three times before I gave up my fence position to someone more capable!!

We trail rode (my favorite!):

Our fearless leader, Steve

 It was hot...

in the shade...
So we swam:



That's me!

and cooled off in other ways in the evening:
Yay Cheladas!
Something I could do without flailing around...
There were classes in the arena:



And on the trail:

Cherie, Hedi and Grace the wonder cow dog!

Crossing Horse Creek

Coming up from the waterfall

And even a show!

Francesca with her minis and of course Dally the JRT!
And every evening we had the most amazing dinner here (and we got to ride our horses there, double bonus):
Dinner was catered by the local cafe (see below)
This is the most awesome cafe/hardware store I've ever eaten in!
Our patient mounts, highlined, waiting for us to finish eating...
But most of all we had fun!

So much fun, in fact, that we are all planning on meeting up again at camp next year! Hurrah!

The Posse!
Can't wait...

Bottom line is: Summer Camp was everything I had hoped for and more.  It was worth every penny and every minute.  And truth be told, I was the only one that burst into tears.