A little calm amidst the chaos

My moment of Zen

My moment of Zen

It has been a busy couple months  – a couple of my oldest friends have to come to visit with their kids, family have been houseguests and between the theme park visits, dinners and entertaining everyone, I have also been traveling a lot for work… So I am especially happy to have carved out a little time for myself this weekend.

potato mix with chives and cheese

potato mix with chives and cheese

Yesterday, I had a great lesson with my horse, riding around the obstacle course of the back wooded pasture. She was calm and connected and I was more focused than I have been of late. Now the nights are brighter I need to try to ride a couple times a week! I think we need to get out on the trails soon.

little nests of the potato mix

little nests of the potato mix

This morning the house is empty – all the current houseguests are with my guys at Universal – I stayed home to do laundry, run errands and clear my head before the work week starts again on Monday. However since it is Easter I decided to try a new egg recipe

nests after 30 minutes in the oven

nests after 30 minutes in the oven

Baked Eggs in Hashbrown Nests

  • Take a packet of thawed Simply Potatoes hash brown potatoes and add some chives, cheese and seasoning.
  • After tossing that together in a bowl, spray Pam on a muffin pan and make little nests of the potato mixture
  • Put that in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes, then let cool a little.
  • Crack an egg into each nest and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning.
  • Bake for about 10 -15 minutes (you need to keep an eye on it since everyone’s ovens vary)
  • Sprinkle a little cheese and some shredded prosciutto on top and serve.
eggs baked with a little cheese and prosciutto on top

eggs baked with a little cheese and prosciutto on top

It was pretty good even if I do say so myself LOL

yolks are little too firm - but still tasted good :)

yolks are little too firm – but still tasted good

Unfortunately I was a little distracted and left them in closer to the 15 minute mark which meant the yolks were quite firm when I had actually wanted them to be soft – the 10 minute mark might have been the right time to take them out since they continue to cook in the pan – Oh well, next time….

Laundry is done, belly is full – I think it may be mani pedi time 🙂

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New Beginnings – Return from Dormancy

My little slice of heaven

My little slice of heaven

I have to apologize to the people who do come by occasionally and read this blog – I have been quiet for months because life was so very busy. It’s not that I had nothing to say –  just no time to say it…

As some of you may know, after the big cross country relocation, we rented for two and a half years waiting for the right time and place to buy a new home. The search for a house finally kicked into high gear at the end of last year and after looking at what seemed like a million houses we finally bought our 5 acres of paradise.

So much has changed in the past few years of economic meltdown that despite buying and selling many homes over the years, the process this time around seemed much more daunting and difficult.  Luckily we had a great realtor who moved mountains in helping us find the perfect house – I can’t thank him enough!

Making it all more challenging was the fact that we wanted a horse property – that is a niche market – fewer properties out there to choose from – many more issues you need to consider before taking the plunge.

We put offers on two other properties before finally buying the one – I am so glad those other deals fell through, despite the disappointment at the time because the one we bought is absolutely perfect for us. Amazingly enough it was the house I wanted to see from the beginning, but it was in the middle of a short sale and under contract with another buyer so we had never been able to visit it.

Horse properties are tough – we saw some that had great barn facilities but the house was tiny and outdated – or houses that were pretty nice, but that had no barns, fencing and the land still needed to be cleared. We were getting pretty discouraged and thinking about putting the search on hold for a few months when our realtor was suddenly able to get us in to view the house I had wanted to see months ago.

I was prepared to be disappointed – I figured it would be too far a drive, the area or neighbors would be sketchy – the house would probably suck, the barn would be falling down – something…

But instead the drive wasn’t that bad – not nearly as far as I thought, the neighboring homes looked nice and well kept and as we drove up to the house I started to smile – this actually looked really promising. The architectural style of the home was a perfect fit for my taste – the barn looked to be in great shape, everything was fenced and the gates even had a horse on it! (Gotta enjoy the little things)

My Gate :)

My Gate

We checked out the fenced pastures and barn before going up to the house and the smile got a little bigger – but would the house work on the inside? This house had been on the market for over three years and was pretty beaten up on the surface – little to no maintenance all that time meant a lot of repairs were needed.

Fortunately, I can see beyond the cosmetic issues and neither one of us are afraid of taking on a project.

Once inside the main space I was sure this was the house for me – big, open plan living dining and kitchen –  perfect for entertaining family and guests. High ceilings, lots of light, good indoor/outdoor living space. It was as if someone had built it especially for me – I was head over heels in love!

But could we get it?  Still under contract with another buyer, still in negotiations with two banks that held the first and second mortgages – we couldn’t even make an offer till the paperwork was released…. We had a tense few weeks waiting to make our offer and then waiting for it to be accepted by not only the buyer and her lawyer but the two banks had to approve it also. Then the inspections began and the list of broken things mounted by the minute.

We went into it with our eyes wide open – we knew the AC system, the pool pump and windows needed to be replaced or repaired – we knew both the exterior and the interior needed a lot of work. But we knew it was the right house and it was worth the work it was going to take.

Despite all the obstacles, crisis and last minute panics – the day finally came and the paperwork was finally signed – the deal was done! We moved in Feb 15th and then the real work began because you don’t really own a horse property – it owns you…

So for the foreseeable future this blog is going to be about fixing up our new home, making it ours, painting, decorating, home improvement projects and the trials and tribulations of land management.

This city girl now has a well and a septic system – we have two horses, 4 dogs and are in the process of building a chicken coop.

Its a brave new world and we are loving every minute of it 🙂

Flea Market Finds

My perfect find!

Today we drove out to Renninger’s a huge flea and antique market near us – it’s been a while since we have been but since it was the first day of fall and and a good 10 -15 degrees coolers than it has been in months (okay 86 isn’t exactly cool to most people but Florida summers are hot hot hot)

new orchid additions

I usually pick up a couple of cheap orchids and today was no exception 🙂 We bought some fresh produce and saw a dog just like Gizmo – a real first since she is a Chorkie and we thought pretty unique looking in her own scrappy way… but apparently she has a little twin called Koda running around the market.

I saw the weirdest chickens I have ever seen in my life – they look like Fraggles – according to the owner they are “silkies” Once we have our house with acreage I may need to get some for the sheer comedic value of having these fuzz balls wandering around LOL

 

My men geeked out and found a bunch of old school games for the original xbox and the Nintendo 64. I am such a packrat and still have all my old game systems –  so they have spent the last half hour dragging them all out and setting them up – there goes the rest of saturday afternoon. Now if we could only find some Dreamcast games…..

You looking at me?

We also picked up some delicious cinnamon glazed pecans that are completely addictive – once you start you cant stop. We have gotten them at a number of festivals or shows since we have been in Florida so everytime we see them we have to stop for some

Then just as we we thinking of leaving I spied some iron horse heads with rings in their mouths – all rusted up but so cool –  in a old junk stall. The lady wanted $100 for the pair but I haggled her down to $75 which I think is a good deal –  but then what the hell do I know?

She said they are old hitching posts and they do look like they would fit on top of fence posts – I just knew I had to have them so they came home with me and are awaiting their new home in the barn I plan to have sometime soon…

We made out like bandits – everyone came away with something to make them happy and I managed to resist bringing and new puppies home which is a feat unto itself 🙂

Renewing the promise

Pegasus – sweetest horse evah!

Life has a way of becoming crazed – despite our best intentions sometimes we find ourselves running full speed ahead from place to place, forgetting to live in the moment, taking no time out for the things that make us happy…

This is a constant struggle for me – there are only so many hours in the day and so many things that need to be done and like many working wives and mothers the first things to go by the wayside are the very things that keep me sane!

Like most little girls, I had always loved horses – or rather the idea of them –  growing up in a flat in Belfast meant I rarely saw grass, never mind any actual animals. My family drove me out to the country every so often, so I did see farm animals close up occasionally – was led around on the obligatory donkey on the beach etc.

One memorable occasion, a old farmer tried to get my grandfather to buy me a donkey – I must have been around 6 years old. When asked where we were supposed to keep it – the old man said “the kitchen” LOL  Given the fact that my mom wouldn’t let me have a dog or cat growing up I don’t think a donkey in our 4th floor concrete jungle’s kitchen was ever going to happen…besides I didn’t want a “donkey” I wanted a Palomino! Not that I had ever seen a real live Palomino – but I thought they were the most beautiful horses….

Fast forward many, many years, my husband and I were figuring out the family vacation for the year – wanting to show the boys the beauty of our National Parks we chose to go to Glacier and found an awesome place with cabins in the woods near Whitefish, Montana –  Gaynor’s Ranch.

On a whim, to indulge my childhood fantasy, I made my men a deal – if we were staying on a ranch then they had to go on a trail ride with me! When the time came to make good on their end of the bargain, they were somewhat reluctant but dutifully came with me. The grizzled ranch hand looked us over a little mournfully when we admitted that none of us had any experience – I am quite sure he rolled his eyes and wondered how he had drawn the short straw again that morning.

He brought out 4 half dead asleep trail horses and showed us how to get on, get them to start and stop – pretty much unnecessary since these guys just followed the horse in front and had taken this same trail a bazillion times and really needed no directional assistance from us. But I didn’t care I was on a real live horse, riding a Montana trail and I was thrilled!

Our trail guide, who kept calling me “Sherry” had a steady stream of conversation going – eventually I gave up trying to correct him and just listened to his stories while enjoying the ride. Over the course of the 2 hour ride he started looking at me a little weird – I thought I must be doing something wrong…. Finally he asked me if I had a hobby back in Washington? Sure, I responded – waiting for the punch line.

“Well whatever it is, give it up and get yourself a horse – you are a natural” I  think my jaw must have hit the trail floor – he then spent the rest of the ride telling me what sort of horse I should be on the lookout for when I got home as if this was all a done deal.

Afterwords, the kids kept asking if we were getting a horse now. “Of course not” I said but we went back the next day for a second longer trail ride…

Back in Washington, I came to the realization that I didn’t have to go all the way to Montana to ride a horse and despite being in my late 30’s there was no reason why I couldn’t learn a new trick and do something I really enjoyed. So I looked for a barn near my home that would give lessons. But no way I was buying a horse! That was crazy talk!

So every Wed night I went to the barn and rode a variety of horses – all beautiful, though none of them were a Palomino 🙂 Over time I decided that perhaps I should go ahead and lease a horse – that way I could ride much more often….. and so the slippery slope began. It wasn’t that long before I ended up buying a beautiful 4 year old  3/4 Arabian mare, chestnut with a long flaxen mane – not quite a Palomino but so much better because she was mine and the sweetest horse evah!

Fast forward a little more –  several years of Natural Horsemanship at barn close to home in Washington, then a cross country move to Florida later – Pegasus (or Honey) has settled in beautifully at a fantastic barn – just not as close as I would like – where no one does that whole “natural thing” Other horse owners there look at me with kindly bemusement….

The goal is to buy a home with acreage so I can have her on the property and have tons more horse time. Horse time is different – things slow down – you have to be completely present and in the moment – there is no room for other thoughts and distractions. All the work or life stresses and politics melt away… Horses have no ulterior motive or agendas…they just want your love and leadership and maybe some of those yummy treats they know you keep in your pocket LOL

This week I finally spent some much needed time with my horse and even though it had been too long – she was happy to see me and was the perfect partner – calm, trusting and steady. So even though it is tough to find the time, I renewed the promise to her and myself…

I will make the time to do what I love and work on my relationship with my horse. It is an investment that pays dividends and one I can’t afford to ignore.

“They like me….they really, really like me…”

At least one person does – Thank you Wendy so much – I haven’t been doing this whole blogging thing that long and I am not really that sure what I am doing. I don’t have a particular hook or focus – I just talk about what is on my mind so I am thrilled that anyone out there is at all interested….

Sweet Wendy at Chez Chloe nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award and I am totally shocked and delighted LOL

Here are the rules.

  1. In a post on your blog, nominate 7 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
  2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
  3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
  4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
  5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
  6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

Here’s my list so far…

The Bloggess  – definitely an inspiration although she doesn’t really need my support at all she is laugh out loud funny but with a heart.

Eggton – Katherine is someone I have never met but I think we would have a lot of fun if we did –  we are both newly living in the south – she cooks fantastic food and I love her dog Thunder beyond all measure >8)

Chez Chloe – is it bad form to list the person who nominated me? If it is, who cares – I love to hear about her life in Europe – I need tapas STAT and we both have lived in Washington state and Florida…so we have tons to talk about if we were ever to meet.

Equine Clarity – Elsa was my riding instructor back in Washington and is currently working with a couple of mustangs from the wild with no tools other than her body language – she is a constant inspiration and I wish I had half her insight and skill with my horse….

Design Fetish – one of many design blogs I follow – I am a designer after all – but she seems to do this on her own, without a staff which many of them seem to have – and I always find something new there to inspire.

David Thorne – this guy does not post super often but Missing Missy kills me every time – and once again, as a designer, I relate….

Modern Homemaker – a friend and former colleague who is newly single and blogging about her life and how to enjoy it on her terms.

Okay random info time…

I grew up in Ireland but was born in Amarillo Texas – which makes me the only Texan with an Irish accent you are likely to  meet.

I narrowly missed being named after a freakin cookie (back in Ireland this really was the name of a cookie – really!) my mom almost named me Kimberly… the teasing would have been insane…. there was a damn jingle ….

I always wanted a horse but never got one till I about 5 years ago – despite a guy trying to sell my grandfather a donkey for me when I was seven – he said we could “keep it in the kitchen….” needless to say that didn’t work for my mom.

I named my baby brother – my mom wanted to call him Simon – which may have ruined his life  forever – so when the nurse asked me what his name was after he was born I told her Christopher Simon – you are sooo welcome baby bro >8)

I have both held and eaten a gator – not same one…I am willing to try most anything once…

Although having said that, I could not eat crickets at a fabulous Mexican restaurant in Houston – I totally disappointed myself….

I once had a special sushi roll named after me at my fav restaurant back in WA state because I was there so often…. My new fav, here in Florida, made me a VIP LOL I really like sushi – a lot….