Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

Archive for April, 2009

Out to lunch…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 29, 2009

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I am having a rare lunch out today with a friend.  This is what I am planning to wear.  (I know, I don’t get out much, so it is exciting to be able to put together an outfit to go out in public.)

This is a green and blue plaid skirt, a navy shell, a green and white striped jacket and some green and cork wedge heels.

Detail of the jacket:

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Detail of the shoes:

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The skirt is by Laundry and I purchased it from eBay at least two years ago: $5

The navy shell is by Jones New York and I purchased it last summer at Belk (on sale): $13

The jacket is by Context and I got it on a shopping trip during a work thing in DC 5 years ago!: $59 (I think)

The shoes are from Target – I bought them last week and haven’t worn them yet: $20

I just love mixing things I already have with new things to create a new look.  Pretty cute, don’t you think?

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Weekend project…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 27, 2009

This weekend was very productive for me.  (Please see my other posts on going to the flea market, creating framed spoon art work for my kitchen, and a photo shoot on Saturday afternoon of my horse, Dancer.)  But, I have one more project to report.  Yesterday, it was my goal to clean out and organize my closet.   I have a huge closet in this house and it had really gotten out of hand.  This would have a lot more impact if I had some before pictures to show you, but I was too embarrassed.  Take my word for it – it was a mess! 

I started by pulling out anything that no longer fit, I n0 longer liked or just simply hadn’t worn in over a year and put that in a donate pile.  Next, I pulled out all of the real winter clothes, folded them and put them into storage bins.  Next, I organized into categories and folded all of my riding clothes and stacked them up on a top shelf of the closet.  Purses were organized on another side.  Finally, I attacked my shoes.  I used to hold on to all of my shoe boxes, but the shoe collection had grown so large (I might have a fetish) that I could no longer really remember what I had in all those boxes.  So I decided to ditch them and organize the shoes in a different way.  For years, I have had a few of these cardboard shoe organizers, but when I went out looking for more yesterday, I couldn’t find anything like them.  So, I had to come home and double the shoes in each cubbyhole.  I actually think it looks better this way and doesn’t take up nearly as much space as extra shoe containers would.  I tried to organize them by color so that they would be aesthetically pleasing – and I think they are.  I love shoes!  How many is too many, do you think?  I must admit that in addition to all of these, I also have a whole bucket full of flip-flops.  I just purchased the bucket at Target a few weeks ago and I love, love, love the color.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with (a potted plant? full of ice and drinks for an outdoor party?), but I was thrilled to think about incorporating it into the closet so that I can see it and use it every day. 

If this were our forever home (or if we would be living her for longer than another six weeks or so) I would want to paint the walls, add a cool light fixture (the ceilings are really high) and add a full length mirror.  Good ideas to file away for future use.

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I also took the opportunity to clear off the top of my dresser.  It had been cluttered by having my large jewelry box on top (which I moved into the closet).  I hung the tassle I purchased a few weeks ago at the Montgomery Antique Mall over the corner of the mirror.  I had tried this tassle in several different locations in the room, but I definitely like it best here. 

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I picked up some fresh tulips from Costco and used some of them on the dresser and the bulk of them here in the living room in a hand-painted sangria pitcher I got on a trip to Spain.  Fresh flowers really do liven up a room.

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Posted in Decorating | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Framed spoons….

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 27, 2009

One night while reading blogs, I discovered this delightful idea to frame a piece of silverware over at “The Nesting Place” : http://nestingplacenc.blogspot.com/2009/04/frame-it-framed-fork.html

Three silver spoons I found last year on e-Bay engraved with our last name came to mind.  I thought these were so cool when I found them (apparently, there was an old hotel in Oklahoma or something with our last name – just goes to show that it does pay to eBay yourself sometimes).  I wasn’t sure what I would do with them and they have been sitting in a drawer gathering tarnish ever since.  When I saw the Nester’s great idea, I knew that would be an excellent way to display my treasures.

I wanted oval frames like she used, and in fact, that it what I bought at first, but 5x7s were too small for the long iced-tea spoons and 8x10s were too huge for the project in general.  So, I compromised and bought 8×10 rectangular frames with oval mattes.  The first time I tried to glue the scrap book paper to the glass underneath, you could see the glue lines.  But, I think I figured it out and now they are hanging in my kitchen.  I used textured sage green scrap book paper in the middle frame and then a sage and cream patterned paper on the other two.  I think the paper cost .59 or .79 a sheet, a roll of ribbon for $1.98 (with some left over to use elsewhere) the frames were on sale at Michael’s for $3.50 each and the mattes were also on sale for $1.98 each.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember how much I paid for the spoons themselves, but for under $20, I created a unique way to display them.  Thanks so much to the Nester for her original idea!  Check out her blog for more great decorating ideas.

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Some flea market fun…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 27, 2009

On Saturday morning, I went to the Eastbrook Antique Mall’s flea market.  This event had been heavily advertised in the local area on the radio and on television.  After reading lots of wonderful blogs such as 

    (http://southernhospitality-rhoda.blogspot.com/) and

    (http://theletteredcottage.blogspot.com/) and

  (http://nestingplacenc.blogspot.com/)

which talk about home decorating and finding things you can re-do and re-use at yard sales and flea markets, I was totally looking forward to going.  It was a little disappointing, but I still managed to find a few treasures. 

Also, Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality has decided to do a SouthernHospThriftyTreasures copy party each Monday where bloggers can connect to her site and everyone can show off the treasures found during a weekend treasure hunt.  So, if you are into that sort of thing click on over there to see what everyone else was up to this weekend.

In one book stall, I was able to purchase some really nice hardback books for$2 each!  Didn’t take any pictures of those, but how can you beat that price for hours and hours of entertainment.

The next thing I found is this beat up valet/suit stand.  We have looked at these before, because sometimes my husband will wear his uniform twice before it has to go to the cleaner, so it is often draped over a chair in preparation for the next day.  But, they can be kind of expensive.  This one was $3!  A little sanding and some brown spray paint and it should be ready for use at under $10.  Unbelievable.

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Inside the antique mall itself, I found a plastic ziploc bag with six place settings of this green handled silverware.

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What a lovely little tablescape these will make for a small dinner party, don’t you think?  I paid $9.99 for all six place settings.

Finally, I found this cute little green bubble glass creamer.  It was $12 – a little pricey perhaps – but I loved it and when I found a little flower frog that fit perfectly inside, I couldn’t resist.  This is going to make the cutest little flower arrangement.

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I’ll give you three tries to guess my favorite color….

It was a very fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Posted in Decorating, Shopping | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

Photo shoot….

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 26, 2009

My friend got a snazzy new camera for her birthday and we decided to use today’s perfect weather as a photo shoot.  From about 400 snaps, we got about 50 good pictures.  Here are some of my favorites:

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One of my students helping to cool Dancer down – I never have a shortage of volunteers asking if they can sit on my horse for a few minutes.  So cute! 

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Posted in Riding | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Going to the dogs…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 23, 2009

It is official, we are crazy dog people.  (Of course, in our defense, Copper is hardly your average dog.)  But, on a recent shopping trip to publix, my husband discovered Dogsters – Ice Cream Style Treats for Dogs in Peanut Butter and Cheese Flavor.

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Before he gave it to her, I caught him giving it a taste… (he said it tasted like cardboard)

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Copper wondered why dad was eating her treat….

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Don’t worry, she got her turn.  And, boy was it a hit!  She licked without stopping until it was all gone. 

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Posted in Eating, Living | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

A cancelled lesson…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 21, 2009

I was sick yesterday, so this post was delayed a day.  I hoped to report on our second lesson with Emma Winter on Sunday, but unfortunately, it was cancelled due to the threat of foul weather that actually didn’t materialize until later in the evening.  Bummer.  But, “A” and I came out to the barn to ride Dancer anyway.  She was difficult for “A” to ride – not badly behaved necessarily, but just in that mood where she wasn’t giving anything up easily.  She didn’t want to relax, she didn’t want to come on the bit, she didn’t want to go forward, she kept popping out at the shoulder.  “A” did a good job of sticking with her and she was able to improve Dancer’s carriage by the end of the ride.  Sometimes, horses are like that.  They just have bad days and you have to ride the horse you have during that particular ride.

When it was my turn to get on, Dancer really let loose on the bad behavior.   Just like earlier in the week,it was asking for canter to the right that brough it on.  Here is a snapshot from the video clip of her acting ugly and trying to run the videographer over. 

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I wish I had more on tape, but when you have a 1300 pound horse leaping towards you with her blind eye facing you, you drop the camera and run!

After we worked through this little tantrum, she was actually quite nice.  Here is a still shots of trot and of canter to the right:

 

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I love how her ears are turned out to the sides in these – that means she is listening to me and inwardly focused on the work I am asking her to do instead of paying attention to something off in the distance or pinning them back in frustration.  I like that I am sitting up straight and balanced in both gaits, but I need to keep my thumbs up (instead of turning them to the inside) and I still need to move my heel back under my hip a bit.  I was riding in my student’s saddle, so maybe that is why my stirrup has moved back.  Dancer’s back is up and she appears more “squashed” through the body instead of being strung out.  Progress? 

Compare the trot picture above to this one about a year ago in Germany (sorry for the poor quality – the lighting was bad):

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See how much longer she looks here?  It is as if she is just throwing herself around instead of carrying herself on her hind end.  (And, look how I am being popped out of the saddle!)

Here is a sequence from yesterday during a period that felt “right” (although we were going to the left – ha, ha!):

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Pretty, no?

I still have concerns – I don’t like having to hold her. I don’t like that she is getting fussy.  I don’t like that huge muscle developing under her neck.  But, I am hoping I can have more times like the trot sequence directly above and fewer times like the very first picture in the post. 

We are nothing if not a work in progress.

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Oh the disappointment…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 21, 2009

Just imagine my horror when I pulled into my favorite fried food haven – Zaxby’s – with my mind on some fingerz and krinkle fries with a little splurge of fried dill pickles on the side only to notice that they no longer have the fried dill pickles on the menu!  What?!?  It seems like just yesterday (but, was probably a few months ago) that I first noticed them and they were advertised as “new.”  How fleeting the love affair was…

If you live in an area that doesn’t have a Zaxby’s, I am SO sorry.

Posted in Eating | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

My Saturday…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 19, 2009

Saturday morning dawned bright and early.  I was at the stables around 8:00 am and helped my friends with the morning feeding and turnout.  Then, I groomed Dancer and worked on her mane.  She HATES to have it pulled, so I have to resort to cutting.  It doesn’t give quite the same results, but if I am careful, I can make it look a bit more natural.  I got her tacked up and at 10:00 I gave a balance lesson on the lunge to a lovely young rider.  Dancer was very well behaved, but because she is such a big mover, I am afraid the rider is going to be sore in the morning.  After the lesson, I hopped on and rode her for about 30 minutes.  She wasn’t as silly about cantering, but she was very, very strong – not nearly as balanced and slow as she has been.  So, I either get strong and pulling, or slow, light and crazy.  I really need the lesson with Emma!

The barn group decided to go to Five Guys Burgers & Fries for lunch.  (We eat there quite a bit.)  It is interesting when we invade wearing various articles of horse clothing – all dirty and smelly.  I am surprised the owners haven’t asked us not to visit their establishment in this attire, but then again, we probably are their best customers, so maybe that is why they put up with it.  I felt like I was really getting a lot of looks – I was wearing my Kerrits Sit-Tights.  They are pretty flattering pants, in general, and I was the cleanest of the bunch (except for one of the mothers who had not been riding).  Here is a picture of the back of them (mine are a lighter tan color):

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After lunch, one woman did come up to me and tell me that she liked my pants.  So, maybe that was it – maybe everyone just liked them and thought they were a new fashion trend!

I came home, changed into shorts and a tank top and got started on one of my least favorite chores of all time: washing the car.  But, my poor car really, really needed to be washed and I promised my hubby that I would do it this weekend.  He is a self proclaimed car washing expert.  I got started and after I had been scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing for about 40 minutes, he came outside to help.  The first thing he said was, “you are still one the first wash?”  {Timeout: 1) a few days ago, my car had been covered in a mist of some type of spray some workers were using on a fence a few houses down – so it really required a lot of elbow grease to get all of that off the paint and windows, 2) “first wash” refers to the plan hubby had outlined for my car wash – first wash with dish washing liquid, next wash with clay bar, third wash with car wash soap, hand dry with towels, apply 2 coats of wax}  The next thing he did was to get a sponge and act like he was going to start washing the car on the side I had already done!  I said, “what are you doing?!?  I already finished that side.”  Hubby (looking sheepish) replied, “oh, sorry, maybe that is just the way your car looks.”  Me: “you better watch it buddy.  I am about to kick you in the nads.”  You don’t need the whole car wash litany – in fact, hubby stepped up and did most of it – the end result, 3 hours later, was a very shiny car.  It allowed me to apply my Charleston Southern sticker (purchased almost a year ago, but never applied because the car was never clean enough – I told you it needed to be washed!)

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I love it! 

Next, I showered and got dressed and headed over to the Montgomery Antique Mall.  I have always wanted to check it out, but some a blog posts I read recently about finding treasures really lit my fire.  It was wonderful!  I found some furniture I want: a sleigh bed, a curved-front sideboard for use as a TV holder and an adorable, adorable desk painted in a French style – cream and green.  So cute!  I had a ball walking around and around (you have to make at least two laps).  I bought this:

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Isn’t that adorable?  I am considering it a belated Easter present to myself.  And, I thought I might just put it out around Easter, but the more I see it, the more I love it and I am probably going to have to find a permanent place for it.  We saw paintings just like this at the flea market in Tongeren, Belgium and I always wanted to buy one, but we always ran out of money, so I never did.  I was so happy to find this.  I also bought a tie-back tassel in brown and aqua that will look great in my bedroom (exact use to be determined). 

We finished the day by hitting the all-you-can-eat buffett at the casino in Shorter, Alabama with some friends.  Fun company and a few too many crablegs make for a good night.

All in all, it was a good day.

Posted in Living, Riding, Shopping | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Night off (for Dancer)…

Posted by mandyhuckins on April 17, 2009

Last night, I decided to give Dancer the night off.  I started thinking that she might have been acting up because of soreness. I was gone for a week and I found out that she was only ridden once in my absence.  Plus, I had a lesson to teach and I really needed to ride Jack. 

The lesson was with my young rider.  I was so surprised to see her cantering around independently all over the arena one night this past week.  Before I left, she was still cantering on the lunge.  Maybe I should go away more often… Also while I was gone, she participated in a Hunter/Jumper show and won Grand Champion for her division!  Despite the success, she might have been progressing a little too fast….those dang diagonals are giving her a lot of trouble.  I told her before I would allow her to do much of anything else, she needed to prove to me that she could pick up the correct diagonal all most of the time.  So, I put her back on the lunge.  We did a lot of sitting trot work without stirrups and without reins.  Her balance is improving a lot.  We even tried posting without stirrups (difficult for everyone, even those of us whose legs are the size of a bird’s).  I re-explained the concept of looking at the pony’s outside shoulder.  I had her repeat up-out and in-down.  She could say “out…out…out” in time with the pony’s movement.  But, whenever I had her start posting and tell me if it was correct or not, she would get it wrong!  Sometimes she would start posting correctly, then I would hear her say “nope” under her breath, switch diagonals and then tell me “ok, it is correct.”  I would have her fix it back and then really watch the outside shoulder to try to get it right.  By the end of the lesson, it seemed like she might possibly have it.  We will see…Any riders out there have any suggestions?

My ride on Jack, the western quarter-horse we are trying to change into a dressage horse, was ok.  He is showing some definite improvement.  And, actually, although it feels rather choppy, when I glance in the mirror as I go by, he is moving quite well in the back.  He needs to always think forward, forward, forward to get that western training out of his mind.  Sometimes, he will come nicely into a frame, with a relaxed neck, vertical head and rounded back.  We will go that way for a while until I do something to upset him (change direction, squeeze with my leg or just breathe) and then he will throw his head straight up into the air.  Straight up!  His owner (a teenage girl) has been riding him in the Vienna training reins.  Maybe I should too – it would keep him from hollowing out like that.  I think I will give them a try next time.

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