Monday, May 26, 2014

Remember The Fallen

Thank you to all those who fought as members of our United States Armed Forces and made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy freedom!  

via

All gave some.  Some gave all.  
Remember them this Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summer Daydreams

Hooray for the 'unofficial' start to Summer kicking off this weekend!  Are you excited too?!?

Matt, Bella and I are heading to my parent's farm on Saturday for Family Game Night.  Lots of family and food.  Two great things!  Sunday we will be spending on the lake with friends.  Bella will be in seventh heaven!  Plenty of people to throw her sticks to fetch, loads of snacks to beg for and at least one boat ride around the lake.  Monday's plans are still TBA, but I always like to find a Memorial Day service to pay tribute to the deceased veterans.


In honor of Summer being just around the corner here's just a taste of what I'm going to be daydreaming about during work looking forward to over the next few months!

Cookouts
Vacationing in Colorado
Frontier Days Rodeo
Chilling on the porch (with an adult beverage in hand)
Lady Antebellum concert
Lazy lake days
Horse shows
Tan lines
Baseball games
Winery weekends
Big birthday celebrations (mine and my dad's)

What about you?  Are you daydreaming about any of these too?  





Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekend Recap

Holy smokes.  This weekend wore. me. out. 

Friday night after work I headed to the barn to get Louie ready for our first big show of the year.  After getting him all glammed up, I loaded him in the trailer and headed to the show facility.  Matt met me there, thank goodness.  He was a huge help getting Louie settled and me all organized.

It takes a lot of 'gear' to show horses.  Saddles, bridles, blankets, show halters, grooming supplies, feed, supplements, hay... The list goes on.  And that doesn't even count the stuff for me!

Friday night after tucking Louie in the for the night, Matt and I grabbed some Mexican food.  I had a margarita to help calm my nerves!  It was tasty, but I can say that I've never met a margarita that I didn't really like.

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings I was up and at 'em at O Dark Thirty or 5 in the am!  I got my make-up and hair done before leaving the house.  One less thing to actually worry about at the horse show.  I really need to get photos of the whole process that is 'showing horses', but it's really the last thing on my mind on those mornings!  After getting myself all prepped, I drove over to the show grounds to feed Louie and start getting ready. 

Long story short... 

I was worried that he wouldn't settle in and relax at this first overnight show, but he was a trooper!  We had a great weekend!  Louie and I placed in every one of our classes.  We also earned both state and national points with the American Paint Horse Association. 

I owe a HUGE "Thank You!" to Matt, my parents, my pal Maggie (who came over and was my groom/personal attendant/gopher) and my paint horse friends for all their help and support this weekend!

Handsome Louie and I in our finery!

The exhaustion and jello legs are totally worth all the fun I had this weekend!  And I'm already counting the days until our next show... 

26 days.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Five on Friday v.15

This week has been full throttle for me with getting ready for the big horse show this weekend.  My 'To Do' and 'To Pack' lists are finally starting to diminish, but I still have a lot to do to get both Louie and I ready.  Today's Five on Friday is the last five things I've pinned on Pinterest.

No surprise, they're all food!
ONE:

via
 Averie does it again!!  Don't these look epic?!?!   I would make a slight change and use almond butter, but that's just my preference.  I might have to whip these up to take with me to the horse show... I'd bet I have a bunch of new friends!

TWO:

via
 Paleo friendly Almond Joy bars.  I'm in!

THREE:

via
 Hi, I'm Myla.  I have an obsession with sweet potatoes.  If that's wrong, I don't want to be right! 

FOUR:

via
 While these berry muffins look tasty, I'm sold on the presentation!  I love the parchment paper and the jute bow.  I'm catering a graduation party next month and if we go with cupcakes, I'm thinking of using this idea.

FIVE:

via
Proving once again you can have sweets when you eat Paleo?  These brownies look pretty good!  I'm game to try them.  Paired with some coconut milk ice cream, I'd be a happy camper!


THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Linking up with April, Christina, Darci and Natasha.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Do You Remember Your First Love?


Mine was horses.  Surprised?

I wasn't into boys, I was more into geldings.  And a few mares I suppose.

Since before I can really remember, horses have always been my thing.  There has never been a time in my life where that passion ever diminished.  It wasn't one of those activities that I would 'grow out of' once I discovered boys and to this day it still hasn't been replaced by some other hobby!

I've been blessed to call a lot of good horses mine over the years...

But the first, the very first was Big B.


B was white with specks of brown, horseman call that flea-bit grey.  He wasn't a fancy horse show horse or anything of the sort.  If I remember right he was just a grade horse that my parents bought from some friends of theirs.


What was he though?  Safe.  My parents were sure that big ol' grey horse was going to take care of their baby girl!  So maybe there was that one time that he took off at a dead run for the barn and I had to duck against his neck or risk being plastered against the side of the barn as he flew into his stall...  That memory is forever etched in my brain!  My poor mom was hysteric, but I survived!

Time passed and my family sold B, but there were lots of other wonderful horses that came through our barn.

Stormy.  Joey.  Charlie.  Sammy.  Sonny.  Cody.  Another Joey.  Brandie.  Leo.  Scotch.

If Big B was my first love, my horse Fred would probably compare to everyone's favorite elementary teacher.  The one who taught you so much and who you will always be grateful for.


Fred was the first real barrel racing horse I owned.  He was the best!  My parents bought him for me when I was in seventh grade and I competed at every county fair, open horse show and rodeo I could find.  He was a gorgeous red roan that put up with a silly adolescent girl who was convinced all her tack needed to be purple and his mane must be braided.  A little glitter on his hair never hurt either!  Poor guy was probably always questioning his manhood.

Fred is gone now.  Buried at my family's farm.  He was one of the few horses that lived out his life with us.  I sobbed like a baby the morning my dad called to tell me he was gone!  I look at all the pictures of us over the years and I'm still so thankful that he was mine!

Then there's Six.


As much as I love this horse, he was and still is a bit of a challenge.  Always a bit spooky about silly stuff like a dried up corn leaf blowing across the road, but in his day he was a damn fine barrel horse.  He also put up with me wanting to ride him in western pleasure classes and teaching him showmanship.  To this day, I could probably pull him out of the pasture at my parents and he'd kick some butt in showmanship!

Two years ago, I made the decision to retire him from competition because I couldn't keep him sound.  That's horse speak for he was sore and the medicine to make him feel good enough to run at the level we had been at was just too expensive to maintain.  Currently, he's happily munching grass at the farm.  When I go home to visit, I always make a point to stop and see him.  9 times out of 10 the little stinker will run away from me in the pasture! I love you too, pal!

And now, as you know, I have Louie.


He's certainly got some mighty big horseshoes to fill, but he's well on his way!


Thankful Thursday
Helene in Between
I'm linking up today's post over with Carly for Thankful Thursdays.  
And also Helene and Sarah for their first #TOTALSOCIAL.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Horse Show #1 In The Books

This past Saturday was the first horse show of the season for Louie and I.  All week, heck for the last several months, leading up to the show I spent getting ready. 

Most recently though things that had to be done before the show were: polishing the silver on my show halter and western bridle (which resulted in a good sized blister on my thumb), cleaning my saddles with leather soap, packing all the necessities in the horse trailer, and getting Louie all clipped up because the judges like the horses clean shaven!  I trim out his ears, around his muzzle, under his chin and even the white on his legs.  And let me tell you, that's a LOT of white hair!

Remember he looked like this not too long ago before I took after him with the clippers and gave him a mini-makeover.

Friday night I spent most of the evening in the barn getting him all pretty-fied and took precaution to keep him clean by dressing him in his 'clothes'. 


I'm sure no one is surprised they're purple, right?!?

Bright and early Saturday morning I loaded Louie up in the trailer and headed to the show.  Once we got to the show grounds I had to get him undressed and went to work putting the finishing touches on him and I!  His coat has to be clean and glossy and his white impeccably clean.  It's all about the details.  He even wears a fake tail to give the illusion of a luscious, full tail! 


We generally enter three types of classes at horse shows: Showmanship at Halter, English Pleasure/Hunter Under Saddle and Western Pleasure.  Each of these classes then can be more specific in that they could be for ladies only or the horse has to be over a certain age.  In Showmanship, the judge posts a pattern prior to the start of the show and it's up the handler to memorize it and perform it as best you can because you're scored on the maneuvers.  Here's an example of a pattern we might have to execute:



English and Western Pleasure are both riding classes and both are judged on the way the horse moves.  The judges scores the horses against one another by watching their gates.  In English Pleasure the horse is expected to walk, trot and canter.  While in Western Pleasure the horse is going to walk, jog and lope.  The jog and lope are just a slower version of the trot and canter.  The biggest difference that most people can see between these two classes are the outfits the horses and riders wear... 

English Pleasure

Western Pleasure

Of the seven classes we competed in on Saturday, we came home with six Top 5 finishes!  We won our showmanship class(!!) and I was really proud of how we did in the Western Pleasure classes!  I've only been working with him on slowing down and being a 'western' horse since this past winter and he's really getting it!  And he looks handsome too...

This weekend we're off to another show, but this time the stakes are a bit higher!  It's the first Paint Horse breed show of the year!  That means steeper competition, tougher patterns and over all a higher anxiety level for both me and Louie... Keep us in your thoughts!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oh, The Woes of Louie

Showing horses isn't for the faint of heart.  You spend countless hours preparing for a show, then you actually pay for someone to judge the talent of you and your horse against everyone else there.  It can cause some anxiety for both horse and human.

What worries Louie most?  

Wearing his purple 'clothes' in front of his horsey friends at the barn...


 "Purple?  Really?  This is such an embarrassment?"
 "You look handsome in purple!  Our first show of the year is tomorrow, aren't you excited?"
"Delighted..."


 "I'm going to be laughed outta the pasture!"
"Not a chance."


 "Look!  They're all standing out there mocking me right now!"
"They're just jealous.  You're fresh and clean and they're dirty and stinky.  And to top it off, under all those clothes, you're the prettiest horse on the farm!"


"I am!?!"
"Of course!"
"I AM!"

Friday, May 9, 2014

Five on Friday v.14

ONE:
We seem to have skipped Spring all together and jumped straight to Summer here in Central Illinois.  Just yesterday the temps topped out at 90°!  Last week I was wore a chambray shirt under a v-neck sweater and was quite content, this week I'm wearing sandals and sundresses.  Who the heck knows what next week will hold?

TWO:
Matt unearthed our patio furniture from the shed this week and I'm hopeful that we will be able to enjoy most of Mother's Day outside!  Mom and Dad are heading down after church to spend the day with us and personally, I think it's going to be worth the trip.


THREE:
Brianne from Lamm to the Laughter nominated me for my first Liebster Award!  I answered all of her great questions and selected four other bloggers in this post.



FOUR:
Just because she's so freakin' cute!



FIVE:
The first horse show of the season is Saturday, weather permitting...  After work Friday, I'll head to the barn and all the show prep will commence!  That includes: getting one last ride in, giving Louie a bath then banding his mane and braiding his foretop.  I will also load all my gear into the trailer, along with hay and water for Louie.  
Wish me luck!  

Oh, one last reminder to enter the Spring for Coffee Giveaway... Time's running out!
I hope you have a fan-freakin-tastic weekend!

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Linking up with April, Christina, Darci and Natasha.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ag Chat: Agritourism and Fair Oaks Farms



How can farmers spread their message to those who've never been blessed to know how a farm operates or even what one looks like?

Enter agritourism.

Agritourism is all about bringing visitors to the farm and educating them by using engaging, fun activities.  These activities could be you-pick-em berry farms, guest ranches, Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches, wineries and farm tours.


One place that in my opinion that is knocking it outta the ballpark by educating thousands of people every year about farming is Fair Oaks Farms.  Fair Oaks is a family owned farm located in Northwestern Indiana.  They welcome visitors hoping to find relief from asphalt and city life and dazzle them with engaging activities that also educate them about farming!  Because contrary to what you may think, not everything you read online about farming and food is true!

Fair Oaks offers it's guests many opportunities to soak up agriculture.  One of the first things you do upon arriving is listen to a quick introduction about the farm.  Fair Oaks originally started just with dairy cattle.  36,000 of them to be more exact!  The Dairy Adventure introduces visitors to what goes on behind the scenes of a dairy farm through a bus tour.  You learn about what cows eat, how much milk the provide a day, how they are cared for and also get to seem them milked on the large rotary or carousel.  Using modern farming techniques the dairy farms can milk 72 cows every 8 minutes!


Visitors can also explore Mooville, an outdoor adventure area with farm themed activities for the youngsters or the young at heart.  Many people think the highlight of  farm is the Birthing Barn, where you have the opportunity to see a baby calf be born!


Just last summer, Fair Oaks added Pig Adventure to their already impressive agritourism experience.  The pig farm is the only production facility in the country that allows visitors inside!  You have the opportunity to see three different aspects of raising pigs: Growing, Breeding/Gestation and Farrowing.  Through the technology implemented at Fair Oaks odor is kept to a minimum, but they also remind you... "If you smell some, remember it's still a farm!"


You may remember my first Ag Chat was all about how electric cooperatives turn cow poop into electricity, well the farms at Fair Oaks are no different!  The manure is recycled in a digester, the gas is collected and used as electricity to run the farms.  The farms are truly "Powered by Poo"!

Fair Oaks Farms is like no other place!  If you're ever in the vicinity you should definitely stop in and check it out.  You won't be disappointed, especially if you purchase some of their delicious cheeses or amazing ice cream made in house at the cheese factory!

It's no secret that I have a soft spot for anyone that helps spread the message of agriculture to those who are outside of the farming community!  I believe that it's terribly important for people to understand the passion that goes into farming and raising livestock.  It's not a cake walk.  Believe me.  There are sleepless nights spent worrying about the weather, the markets, that sick calf and how in the world will I be able to get up tomorrow and do it all over again?

So what is it that keeps farmers growing healthy and wholesome food for consumers?

Passion.  

It's truly a passion.  A love for the land and the lifestyle.

Country Fair Blog Party
Linking up with Nicole for this week's Country Fair Blog Party.







Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Holy Buckets! A Liebster?!?

Oh. my. goodness!


I was tickled positively pink when I read that Brianne from Lamm to the Laughter nominated me for a Liebster award last week!  My mouth literally fell open.  Talk about a surge of pride!  Brianne and I met through the Ultimate Blog Party last month.  Since then we've become blog pals who share a mutual love for horses! 

Here's the scoop on the Liebster, it's an award given to small bloggers from other small bloggers.  It's sort of like a pat on the back!  As one of the bloggers that Brianne nominated, I answer the 11 questions she's dying to know and also add 11 facts about me you may or may not know.  Finally, I then get to nominate up to 11 other bloggers and pose 11 questions to them.

Brianne's Questions:
1.  What is one thing you just will not blog about?
I just can't bring myself to write about 'Our Love Story'.  I just can't.  Yes, I will talk about Matt and may mention our wedding or anniversary, but I'm just sort of 'eh' about putting every last detail out there.  Are you really that interested?  Also, I follow the rule of 'Would I be embarrassed that my family read this...'

2.  What is your favorite music video?
The first one that pops into my mind is Beyonce's Single Ladies, followed shortly after the parody they did on SNL...


3.  Tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Local animal shelters.  Donating to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not the same thing!  Not even close.  If you want to make a difference in the lives of animals donate your money locally!

4.  Have you ever tripped and fallen in an excitingly embarrassing way? 
In high school, it was a right of passage that the freshman would inevitably trip up the stairs.  One instance that comes to mind was when I was hustling to my next class and the toe of my shoe caught the riser of the next tread and bam!  Books, pencils, etc. went flyingAnd of course it was in front of a host of upperclassmen who couldn't help but giggle.  

5.  Don't tell me what's in your bag.  Tell me what's in your fridge.

Wine.  Beer.  Eggs.  Fresh veggies.  Homemade pickles, salsa and mayo.  Almond milk.  Cows milk.  Iced tea.  Deli meat.  Leftovers.  Bacon. 

6.  Your readers are eskimos.  Sell them ice.
"Well sure.  You have lots of ice, but my ice comes in all different sorts of shapes and sizes!  Small squares.  Rectangles.  Crescents.  And you can't even imagine the magic that is 'crushed'"

7.  Have you ever traced your family history?  Do you have any interesting relatives?
I know that I come from German, Irish and Scottish heritage.  I had to call my mom to see if she knew of anyone exciting in our family and she said that we did have a relative who played in the NFL back in the late sixties/early seventies.  I'd like to say that I was related to author Alice Munro, but I can't be sure.

8.  What is your craziest dream (sleeping dream)?  I know it probably doesn't make sense, but write it out anyway!
When I was little I used to have this reoccurring dream that I was with my mom at her hairdressers house.  Mom and Mendi were sitting in wicker peacock chairs and I was hiding behind them because this HUGE cat, like the size of a bus... was coming down the road and I was certain it was going to get me! 

9.  If you could call a summit of any 5 people that ever lived, who would you invite and where in the entire world would you choose to meet?
My Grandpa.  Annie Oakley.  June Carter Cash.  Adam Petty.  Abraham Lincoln.  I'd want to meet around a home cooked meal served on my dining room table.  We'd talk for hours and drink good wine.

10.  Tell us about a time when you flubbed an interview question as bad as Miss Teen South Carolina.

Um, wow!  I couldn't even watch that whole video.  Painful.  Thank goodness, I don't think I've ever botched an interview question as bad as that poor girl. 

11.  Write a haiku about your favorite non-blogging pastime. 
Yes, I totally Google'd haiku.  I'll save you the time... it's a non rhyming three line poem that has five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. 

Louie is screwy.
He is one ornery horse.
But I still love him.

11 Facts About Me:
1.  I'm the bossy older sister.
2.  If I won the lottery I'd pay off any debt my parents had before my own. 
3.  ESFJ.  To a tee!
4.  The first concert I ever went to was Destiny's Child.
5.  I bought a car with a manual transmission before I knew how to drive a stick.
6.  I only burn candles that smell like I've been baking all day.  For instance: pumpkin pie, cinnamon swirl, sugar cookie, etc.
7.  Matt and I will be married four years in October and we've never bought any of our wedding photos.  We even have a credit for pete's sake, but it's always something that just get shuffled to the bottom of the to-do list.
8.  Generally I'm a red wine drinker, but I love a cool sauvignon blanc on a hot summer day!
9.  My very first horse's name was Big B.  I've also had ones named Brandie, Charlie, Joey (x 2), Fred, Six, Cody, Sammy, Scotch, Leo and now Louie.
10.  I'm incredibly particular about my cowboy boots.  I can't stand 'fashion' western boots.  Be looking for a blog post about this in the near future.
11.  I've never met a flavor of ice cream I don't like, except butter pecan.  Not a fan.

My Nominees:
I read so many different blogs, but these gals have been so wonderful to me over the last few months that I want to share the love.

Jessi's Design
Jessi is incredibly sweet!  I just want to sit on her porch and drink a bottle with her while our labs play in the yard! 

Old Blue Silo
I'm pretty sure Kelly and I are cut from the same cloth.  We're both very proud of our role in agriculture and we both love our mason jars!

Wine and Words
And who would have thought it was so easy to find a fellow Saluki?  Sure, Megan lives in Texas now, but we can reminisce about the good times we both had in college!

Carly Blogs Here
I love Carly's blog for her make-up reviews and posts about DC travel.  If it hadn't been for Carly I would have failed to know there was a monument in DC dedicated to FDR.  And she loves Harry Potter!

My Questions:
1.  Are you a five mph over the speed limit kinda girl or do you set your cruise at the exact speed you're supposed to be traveling?
2.  Tell me about the one gift that you didn't feel the least bit guilty returning.
3.  What your go-to karaoke song?
4.  How do you express yourself creatively?
5.  What was the last book you read and why should I read it?
6.  How do you describe your sense of humor?
7.  What is your favorite candle scent to burn?
8.  Describe the last time you were truly excited about something?
9.  What's the one thing that your spouse or significant other, God bless 'em, does that drives you bat shit crazy?
10.  How many times do you wear your jeans before you wash them?
11.  What are five things you can't do--that you would like to do?


Linking up with JenniSamantha & Reneé


Monday, May 5, 2014

Ten Favorite Things v.3

Today I'm joining up with Brianna at Endlessly Beloved for her Ten Favorite Things link up.  This months topic is travel.  I love going new places and seeing new things so I'm splitting my ten into five places I've been and loved and five places I really want to go!  If you've got any insight (must eat restaurants, exceptional hotels, or travel tips) on the five I've not been to I'd love it if you'd share them with me!


Ten Favorite Things About: Travel, the places I've loved...
one: Fort Collins, Colorado
Matt, Bella and I road tripped from our home in Illinois to Fort Collins to visit my friend Allis and her family.  I was won over by the scenery, hiking, the overall cleanliness of the town, bike paths and all. the. BREWERIES!  I'd give just about anything for an Odell Easy Street Wheat right about now!!  I'm headed back to visit again in July and can't wait!


two: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
I felt like such a kid exploring all things Disney when I went to California this winter to visit friends.  And if it's okay to be a big kid anywhere, I'd guess Disney would be that place! 


three: Europe.  Specifically Germany and France.
My friend Kira lived in German several years ago and I had the opportunity to visit her.  We had a lot of fun traipsing around Europe!  I fell head over heels for Polish pottery, spätzle and French champagne.


four: San Juan, Puerto Rico 
I still get warm fuzzies when I think about my recent trip to San Juan!  It was such a wonderful time filled with sun, sand, drinks and amazing food!  I'd head back in a heartbeat...


five: Savannah, Georgia
I've been to Savannah on two occasions (once for St. Patrick's Day and once just for giggles) and would be up for another trip.  Who wants to go?  Things I love to do: stroll the cobblestone streets down by the water, drive out to Tybee and hit up Jen's and Friends for Happy Hour!



And the places I know I'd love...
six: Santorini, Greece
I've been dropping not so subtle hints to Matt that I REALLY want to go here in the near future and he's been purposely ignoring me!  Santorini looks incredibly beautiful in every. single. photo I've ever seen and I really want to experience it in real life! 

seven: Texas
Austin.  Dallas/Fort Worth.  Houston.  Amen. 

eight: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
WWOHP or bust.  I can't tell you how many times I re-read this series of books or seen the movies.  I'm DESPERATE to experience everything that this attraction at Universal has to offer!  Too bad I can't apparate and just be there!

nine: Napa Valley, California
Wine country.  Need I say more?

ten: Scotland
My ancestors on my Dad's side are originally from Scotland and the family castle, Foulis Castle is still standing and available for touring.  It would be so neat to fly over and check out some of my family history!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five on Friday v.13

It's finally Friday!  This week's been good, but nothing can beat the weekend!  Here's what I'm looking forward to...

ONE:
Margaritas and Mexican food.  Enough said.


TWO:
Saturday morning I'm heading to a local craft and antique show with my friend Maggie.  I don't need a darn thing, but it never hurts to look!  I'm guessing I'll come home with something though...

THREE:
The most exciting two minutes in sports.  Yes, the Kentucky Derby!  I'll be busting out my purple peacock Derby hat that I made for my wedding shower years ago.  We're having some friends over for food, drinks and racing fun!  It's guaranteed good time.

 

FOUR:
Barn time!  We've had just 'eh' weather this week and our first horse show is next Saturday so I really need to log some hours in the barn getting Louie ready.  He has to have his legs, bridle path, and face clipped and his mane trimmed.  Long story short, he's far from looking this good! 


FIVE:
I can't forget to share that I'm participating in a fun giveaway to celebrate Spring!  Everyone loves  Starbucks, a yummy smelling candle and some pretty new nail polish, right?  Well check out the goodies and enter to win!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Linking up with April, Christina, Darci and Natasha.