Great Expectations

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

Archive for May, 2009

A new horse…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 28, 2009

No, not for me.  My friend/riding student has found a horse to lease/purchase.  We don’t know much about the horse because he was donated to the riding team at the University a few years ago and unfortunately, they had the wrong paperwork in his file.  What we do know is that he is a Hanoverian (I used my masterful powers of deduction to come up with that when I saw the brand on his left hip.  It is the same as the one Dancer has.  Leads me to believe he might have been bred/born in Germany.)  His name is EisVogel (translated from German to English =Ice Eagle, I believe) and he goes by Eis.

Last week, we went out to ride him.  He is lovely and has a very kind soul.  No horse is perfect – this one has had to have his hocks injected and he is a bit overweight at the moment.  He also has a bit of a club foot on the front right (which had also lost a shoe the morning of the day we went to ride).  We rode him in A’s saddle which was a bit too tight and her bridle which had a different (softer) bit than the one they had been using for him.  It was a very windy day – but, given all of those things, he was really lovely.

Here is a short video of me cantering him.  As you can see, he got a little fussy to the left, but came right back to work when I steadied him and drove him forward.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGQu98kEYz8

I don’t think anyone is currently riding him dressage – but, he definitely has had dressage training.  When I asked for some lateral movements, he responded.  I could tell that he knew what he was doing, he was just a bit rusty.  He leg yields beautifully, but fought me a little when I tried half-pass at the trot.  He did offer a pretty nice shoulder-in and responded well when I asked for a lengthened stride.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of this exciting stuff on video.  You know how that goes. 

Assuming he vets ok, I think he will be a good horse for A.  After riding some challenging thoroughbreds for the past few years, A deserves to have a nice, easy to ride boy that will do what he is asked to do.  His calm nature and willing attitude will go a long way towards building her confidence and allowing her to move forward in her riding. 

I hope they will be happy together for many long years – developing the kind of perfect partnership I know is possible between a woman and her horse.  I am just sorry I am not going to be around to see it blossom.  Moving sucks.

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The lust list…green is my favorite color…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 28, 2009

I recently read an article…somewhere…(if you read it – tell me and I will give credit where credit is due, but I honestly can’t remember) that talked about getting a shopping high without spending any money.  My trick for this used to be going shopping with someone who had more money than I did (or was just more willing to part with it).  One memorable shopping trip to Milan (yes, the real Milan in Italy!) comes to mind when my very good girlfriend and fun shopping buddy decided to buy a handbag at Prada.  Helping her pick it out and flitting around telling her she should try this one and that one while a very cute, very young Italian man rushed to help us with our every desire was perfection!  And, my husband wasn’t mad at me when I got home.  🙂 

Anyway….the point of this article was that sometimes the act of shopping is just as fun as actually buying something.  Hmmm….I am not so sure about that.  But, I do enjoy shopping, even when I am helping someone else find what they are looking for.  I also like creating wish lists.  And, I have seen many bloggers out there highlighting things they like.  So, drumroll please…..introducing “The Lust List.”  These posts will highlight things I have found that I love.  Some of the things might actually end up being purchased by me, but I imagine that most of the things will remain tucked away like little jewels here in the blog.  I will just have to get back to you on whether or not the pleasure level to collect them here is equal to actually purchasing them.

I am dedicating the first installment of TLL to my favorite color: green.  To kick it off, here is a delicious apple green tote from Cole Haan.  Sometimes I forget about Cole Haan, but they make a high quality product – and sometimes it is SO me!  I would look adorable using this as a carry-on or running to the library to bring home a load of reading material.  It is big enought to hold a laptop!  Retail price on this was $375 and it was posted on eBay for $280 or best offer.  I know in time, it will come down, so maybe there is a chance.

How about these lovelies from Christian Louboutin?  Is your heart beating faster?  Mine is.  Retail was $795 at Bergdorf Goodman, but they were on sale for $385.  Good thing they are sold out.

Christian Louboutin Satin Slingback - photo

 

Alexa from J Crew….retail $225…..

 

Here is a lovely necklace made of one of my favorite stones, chalcedony.  It comes from an Etsy seller – YSDesigns.  She has beautiful things.   This retails for $185.

Melissa - Necklace

Also from Etsy and something I might actually be able to afford…the Chloe Vintage Apron from Boojiboo – retails for $28.75.  And, you really should go check her out – she has SO many cute aprons in several styles and many different fabric choices.

The CHLOE Vintage Inspired AMY BUTLER Water Garden Full Apron

Posted in Shopping | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Why men are difficult…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 26, 2009

Here is an example of why I think men (read: my husband) are so difficult. 

Like many of you, we have a large, flat-screened television.  When we (read: my husband) were contemplating purchasing such a huge piece of electronics last year, we (read: me) pondered where in the world this monstrositylovely piece of technology would sit.  We have an armoire for our older, much smaller television.  It has doors that close so that you can close away the TV when you aren’t watching it.  It has shelves in the bottom for the various accouterments of television watching: DVD player, amplifier, cable box.  All of the electrical cords connecting these various things are hidden behind this armoire.  But, alas, this armoire was way too small to hold our new television.  This was such a big problem, that it kept us from buying the new TV while we still lived in Germany.  But, when we moved to our new house in Alabama, we had an extra bedroom and decided to turn it into the “Man Room.”  The old television in its armoire went into the living room and the new TV was placed on top of a dresser.  The components sit on a wicker shelf to the side.  The horrible mass of cords strings between them.  But, this is the Man Room and in the MR, anything goes.  I am not allowed to dictate design in there.  That is why there is a collection of horrid Norwegian Trolls on a shelf.  It is also why sports banners hang on the wall instead of art. 

We are getting ready to move again – this time, into a much smaller house.  We will no longer have a Man Room.  The big television will have to go in the living/family room and the trolls and sports banners will have to remain in boxes.  So, the problem of how to appropriately display this television has reared its head again.  I will not have this in my living room (and truthfully, my husband doesn’t either):

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For some reason, I really hate the things that are designed to hold these televisions.  They are too low (in my opinion) and they look like TV stands.  They aren’t versatile at all.  And, with all of the moving we have to do in the military, versatile should be our middle name.  I have always wanted to buy some type of sideboard/buffet/credenza that could be used as a television stand.  But, it would have character and be a nice addition to our home.  It would be something that could be used in a kitchen/dining room/foyer/bedroom/hallway if we ever move to a house that has a built in place for a big screen TV (also, not my favorite).  This piece of furniture needs to be wide enough to hold the TV comfortably and deep enough to hold the components inside.  So, it needs to have doors on the front, not drawers.  Well,  I have been looking and this is apparently a difficult thing to find.

I would love to have this lovely lift cabinet, but it costs over $2K and I hoped to find something for less than half of that.

Maybe something like this:

Or this:

 

They are all over the Internet, but I think it falls into the “you see them everywhere until you need one” category.

The other day, during a discussion about our new house, my husband announced that when we arrive in Wichita, he is going to buy a television stand.  Yikes!  This sent me into a frenzy of shopping.  We went to the Montgomery Antique Mall (where I could swear I found the perfect thing a few weeks ago, but of course it had been sold).  Then, I went by myself to two other antique places and several other stores that have nice wooden furniture that isn’t old, but is made to look like it is.  I found two items that weren’t exactly what I had in mind, but would work for the purpose and that I would happily have in my house.  I came home to show him the pictures I had taken of these pieces on my cell phone.  (I would show them to you here, but I don’t have a way to connect my cell phone to the computer to download the pics.) 

He barely even glanced at them before he said, “I don’t know why you are out looking at furniture right now.  We are getting ready to move.”  What?!?  As if we haven’t had multiple conversations about this subject.  Men are so frustrating.

I was tired from going from store to store, irritated that it was so hard to find what I was looking for, developing a sore throat – so, in other words, I might not have reacted well to this. 

Of course, he didn’t understand why I was upset about it. 

His argument: we should wait until we get to Wichita and see how much the move costs (it always costs more than you think it will) before we commit funds to new furniture; we should just buy something temporary (i.e. the stupid TV stand) because we will only be in this house for two years and then you never know; we shouldn’t buy something that just has to be moved right away

My argument: we shouldn’t waste a few hundred dollars on something temporary that I hate, we should spend a little more to get something we really like and that can be used elsewhere in the house if we need to in the future; true, we don’t know how much it will cost to complete the move to Wichita or what else we will need to buy for the house when we get there, but that doesn’t change the fact that we will still need to put this tv somewhere; we might as well buy it here and have it moved because then, when we are unpacking, we will already have a place to put the TV and all of the other components, plus, here we have friends with trucks who can help us to get this to our house in time to move

Right now, it is a stalemate.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Posted in Decorating | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

A yard sale with benefits…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 24, 2009

Rain was forecast all weekend – so, not the best time for yard-saleing.  However, a local church was having an indoor yard sale – with the proceeds to benefit missions.  I ask you, what can be better than great deals for oneself while at the same time benefiting others?  I set out early this morning quivering with delight at the thought of treasures to be discovered.  I was vaguely disappointed in the selection, but managed to come away with a few finds nonetheless.

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I found this little pheasant salt or pepper shaker (I am sure once part of a set).  I thought it might look cute as a part of a fall/Thanksgiving themed table.  Plus, my husband likes pheasants – well, he likes to kill them and eat them.  I have never eaten a pheasant, and anyway, I prefer the porcelain kind.  I paid $2.00 total for this little guy, a canning jar  for my grandmother-in-law and the framed picture below.

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This olive picture will work perfectly in my Tuscany themed bathroom.  I even have an olive oil soap/lotion dispenser set that looks as if they were made to go with this picture.  It is in such good shape that I don’t even have to do any work to it to start using it.

As  I was checking out, I saw this old metal flower frog sitting up by the register.  I asked if anyone had already claimed it – the kind lady said she didn’t think so and went ahead and sold it to me for $2.

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And, finally, on my way out the door – this little lamp caught my eye.  As I have been reading about the benefits of lamplight vs. overhead lighting in beautifying a home,  I have been on the lookout for little lamps that can go in unexpected places (i.e. the bathroom, the kitchen counter, even a bookshelf).  Please visit the Nester’s blog for more information on lamps and how to use them.  I also watched a little video tutorial online today (http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to/video/how-to-make-a-lamp-with-household-objects-208624/) and am inspired to look around my house to see what I might have to use – or to keep my eyes open for lamp worthy items at future yard sales.  It came with the cheesy looking green shade, but I think using one of the left over black and gold chandelier shades I found last week (10 for $3.00) will give it a sleeker more modern look.  I am even contemplating spray painting the whole thing – maybe flat black.

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One of the things I am scouting for as I hit these sales is an old style Belgian waffle maker.  My mom makes delicious waffles for our family whenever we get together and I want to be able to do the same thing.  However, the cheap version I bought at Target just doesn’t work well.  I noticed one of you bloggers out there found one at a thrift store – I am so jealous.  So, imagine my excitement when I saw one peeping out of a box full of junk.  I ran over and grabbed it up, but it was not the deeper-welled Belgian waffle style – and I decided to put it back and wait for the right one to come along.  I have faith!

This sale also had something else that I really want – cardboard shoe holders.  I bought some of these years and years ago (like maybe 10+) to hold shoes and they have been doing their duty ever since.  If you want to see what I am talking about, look at this postwhen I re-organized my closet.  There were two of these (in green, no less!) but they already had someone’s name on them.  Drat!  It gives me hope though that I might be able to find some more – I have looked for them new everywhere, but apparently, they are no longer being produced.

On Friday morning, I stopped in at a small garage sale on my way to the stable and found this:

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It is one of those plastic jewelry holders with clear pockets that fastens onto a hanger and lets you see all of your jewelry at a glance.  I really need one of these and have been wanting one ever since my friend Becky mentioned it to me last year.  Now I need to find another one that I can send to her!  For $1!  I am not going to tackle this project until after our move in June – no need to get all the jewelry out of boxes and organized only to have to put it back in boxes in a week.  So, stay tuned. 

I am getting rather excited about the challenge of fixing up my new house.  And, it will be a challenge as we will be living in the rather old-fashioned and unexciting government housing.  So, stay tuned for before and after pictures to come in June.

And to get some really great ideas about what you might be able to turn from trash into treasure, please check out the blogs listed on Southern Hospitality

 SouthernHospThriftyTreasures copy

Posted in Decorating, Shopping | 13 Comments »

Swagbucks…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 23, 2009

swagbucks-173x63Alt2Have you heard of this yet?  Once you register at Swagbucks, you can download their search engine toolbar and conduct your internet searches through them.  Not always, but sometimes, you will be notified that you earned swagbucks when you conduct a search.  Usually, it is just one, but sometimes it will be two or three and once I even got a fiver!    You save them up and redeem them for prizes.  There are all kinds of prizes, but perhaps one of the most useful is a $5 gift card to Amazon (45 swagbucks).  You can find almost anything on Amazon.  And, if you start collecting swagbucks now, you might have enough saved up by Christmas to get some Amazon (or other retailer) gift cards to give away as gifts.

There are other ways to earn swagbucks too.  One is by recommending it to your friends – or posting a link – like I have done here.  When you click my link and start earning swagbucks, I will earn some too.  It is a wonderful thing.  Happy searching!

Posted in Shopping | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Freshly baked bread…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 22, 2009

There is nothing better.  Last weekend, I purchased my first bread machine at a yard sale for $15.  I read all of the instructions and was a little nervous because the booklet stressed over and over again how important exact measuring is to creating a perfect loaf.  This is why I don’t bake…for some reason, I am not good at measuring.  I like to eye-ball it and throw things in.  Well, I am happy to report that I successfully created this lovely loaf of french bread:

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It was crusty on the oustide and soft on the inside:

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It was delicious!  But, even better was the wonderful smell of bread baking that permeated my house all morning. 

I had better keep using it – because so far, that loaf of bread cost about $20!

Posted in Eating | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

A bad eye day…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 21, 2009

Unfortunately, my beautiful, sweet, lovely, wonderful mare Dancer suffers from a horrible medical problem.  It is called Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU).  It is the leading cause of blindness in horses, but is unfortunately not very well understood.  They don’t always know what causes it or why some horses have it and others don’t.  They don’t know if it is hereditary, although there are some breeds that tend to be more susceptible to it than others (appaloosas and warmbloods, for instance).  Basically, it is condition that causes the eye to attack itself.  It also causes the pupil to spasm and contract and that is very painful for the horse.  When there is a build up of white blood cells in the eye – it causes a lot of other problems.  Raised pressure within the eyeball damages the sensitive inner structures located there and can develop into secondary glaucoma.

When I started leasing her 4 years ago, people at the stable started telling me that she had trouble with her eyes.  But, because these people were Germans and I didn’t always understand them, I didn’t really understand what kind of problem this was.  I knew that we had to turn her out with a fly mask on and I knew that her eyes were sensitive, but I leased her for a year without a single tear coming from either of her eyes.  When she came up for sale, my friends, knowing I wanted to buy her, re-doubled their efforts to warn me about her eyes.  I paid more attention and started doing some research.  I learned how devastating ERU is.  I had two separate vets that had treated Dancer in the past come out to look at her eyes and talk to me about the problem.  One vet told me that she didn’t have ERU.  He said that he treated her for an eye infection one time, but it cleared up with medicine and was not ERU.  The other vet said that he had seen her a few years earlier when she definitely did have ERU and he treated her for multiple flare-ups.  What to do?  Who to believe? 

I loved this mare so much, but I felt that it would be stupid to take on a horse that already had a major medical problem with a high likelihood that she would go blind in one or both eyes eventually.  I cried every day.  The owner found some buyers in another country (none of us were sure that they knew about the eye problem).  I cried even harder as I thought about what would happen to Dancer if they didn’t care for her the way she needed to be cared for.  I just felt such a special bond with her and it was killing me.  My husband saw this pain and went to the owner and asked if it was too late for us to buy her and he made arrangements in secret.  Then, he presented me with her as an anniversary gift.  The weekend before I thought the new owners were coming to pick her up.  She was mine!

I read what I could about Uveitis.  I bought a Guardian Mask and used it.  I only road her in the indoor arena when it was at all sunny outside.  I looked into her eyes every day.   In other words, I tried to protect her eyes as much as possible.  We went on blissfully for 18 months.  Then, one fateful February day in 2008, when I came to the stables, I saw a tear-track coming out of Dancer’s right eye.  There was a grey cloudy area inside her eyeball.  I called the vet right away, but it was a Sunday afternoon, so he didn’t come see her until Monday morning.  He gave her a shot and gave me ointment.  After about a week, it looked better.  No more discharge, no more cloudiness.  I called and asked him how long to continue putting the medicine in her eye.  He said for another few days.  A week after I stopped, it came back.  The vet came back.  We started over again with the shot and the ointment.  It didn’t go away.  He said we should put her in total darkness.  So, a friend and I hung sheets over the bars of her stall to keep the natural light from coming in.  She was already in the only stall without a window.  She also lived in her mask.  Everyday, I hoped to come out and see some improvement, but it was always the same.  Dancer got very depressed.  I got very depressed.  A few weeks into it, the vet told me that Dancer’s left eye was already “dead” and “blind” from a previous ERU attack (this was the first time he ever mentioned it to me – even when I hired him to talk with me about her eyes during the pre-purchase phase).  So, he thought that the right eye was her only seeing eye.  I didn’t believe that, but it definitely scared me.  I tried to get him to do something else for her or try a different medicine since what we had wasn’t working.  He didn’t know what else to do.  What I read about Uveitis online made me believe that hitting it hard was necessary, so own my own, I upped the frequency of her medicine.  I tried to get another vet to come out to see her, but there were “politics” involved.  The vet I was using was the brother of the owner of the barn and this was his “territory” the vet from the neighboring town didn’t feel comfortable stealing a patient.

By this point it was late April and we were scheduled to move back to America that summer.  Thanks to a tip from a friend, I discovered North Carolina State University’s equine ophthalmologist – the premier expert in the field of study of Uveitis – Dr. Brian Gilger.  I emailed and called Dr. Gilger and his staff.  They were exceedingly kind to speak to me about Dancer’s problems.  They even had an intern who spoke German call my vet to discuss Dancer’s condition.  We quickly ascertained that Dancer wasn’t getting the best care.  They really needed to have her in North Carolina.  I started making the plans to ship her.  She left Germany on June 1st, spent 3 days in New York in quarantine, was picked up and driven in a sealed trailer to North Carolina, established at NCSU’s quarantine facility and was seen by an ophthalmologist on June 11, 2008.  That is the day I learned that she was not blind in the left eye, but at some point during the treatment of the right eye, she had developed Glaucoma and had permanently lost sight in that eye.  The interocular pressure in that eye was over 50 (normal is around 15 +/-).  We started treating her with Glaucoma medicine to see if we could get the pressure down and make her more comfortable.

At first, it seemed like it might work.  But, the pressure went back up and it was time to make some hard decisions.  Dr. Gilger explained that horses don’t always respond to Glaucoma medicine (but, it had been worth a try).  I certainly didn’t want her to be in pain forever, so there were two courses of action: 1) I could have the eye removed, which would permanently solve the problem, but had an added risk of putting her under for surgery or 2) I could have the eyeball injected with Gentamicin – which would destroy the inner workings of the eye – preventing it from producing more fluid and hopefully reducing the pressure in that eye.  NCSU was also putting cyclosporin implants in horses’ eyes with some success in staving off and possibly preventing future Uveitis attacks.  Dr. Gilger and I discussed putting one of these implants in Dancer’s left eye.  But, he also told me I had an option there too – a Rapamycin injection – which was new and still experimental, but early results showed it had a similar effect to the implant.  I decided to go with that.  On July 10, 2008, Dancer had the Gentamicin injection in the right eye and the Rapamycin injection in the left eye. 

Unfortunately, the Genatamicin injection wasn’t the perfect cure to our pressure problem.  Working with my ophthalmologist in Alabama, we have found that she still needs twice daily a drop of Cosopt and a strip of Dexamethasone ointment to keep that eye controlled.  I was also continuing one strip of Dex in the left eye as a preventative every other day.  Things seemed to be fine.  Her last check was in February, when we decided that things were good and she didn’t need to be seen until May – right before I would take her to Kansas.

Well….I went out to the stables on Tuesday morning, took off her mask and was greeted with a left eye that was swollen shut, oozing and hot to the touch.  Naturally, I panicked and burst into tears.  Then, I wiped her eye, put Dex in it, and gave her some Banamine.  I put on a clean mask and started trying to call my ophtho.  We gave Dancer another dose of the Dex ointment a few hours later.  That afternoon, when I had her up at Auburn, the eye looked much better.  My ophthalmologist (whom I adore) gave her a good once over.  Her pressures were actually better in both eyes than they ever have been (left 11 and right 15!).  She thinks that my fast action in administering the right meds might have stopped this flare-up in its tracks.  I am going to continue the Dex in the left 4 times a day for a while and then start to taper back down.  One full day has passed and we are halfway into the second day, but the eye looks great.  It is hard to tell there was anything wrong with it two days ago.  I am so relieved!  But, I am still being vigilant and not counting my chickens yet.

Sometimes, I get tired of having to go to the stables twice every day – but now I realize that it is actually a blessing.  Because I am there, I can notice any change immediately and try to get the help she needs.  She was given to me because I truly believe I am the best one to care for her.  Horse ownership is difficult and there are many people out there struggling with horses who colic or dealing with lameness issues.  But, God doesn’t give us something we can’t handle.  And, I thank him every day for giving me Dancer.  She has caused me anxiety and worry and stress – but, the joy she brings me far, far exceeds any of the struggles.

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

Yard Sale Bonanza…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 18, 2009

For my entry to Southern Hospitality’s Thrifty Treasures party SouthernHospThriftyTreasures copy (and you really should click over there to check out what Rhoda and all the linkers found this weekend too – so much fun!) I submit the following “treasures”:

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I bought 10 of these little lampshades.  I have read several blog posts regarding these little beauties and how they might be painted and have tassels added to be totally transformed.  But, I don’t even mind them the way they are – black faux alligator on the outside and gold on the inside.  I just popped them up in the dining room to show you what they look like, although since we are moving in a few weeks, I will very quickly be taking them down.  Anyway, I got 10 of these for $3.00 – that is 30 cents each! 

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I couldn’t pass up this little note card set (11 in all) with coordinating lined envelopes for $1.50.  I can envision hosting a girls night in or a cocktail party or a bachelorette party at some point and these will be perfect!  At the same sale, I also purchased a spool of blue ribbon for $.25 – I really want to bulk up my stash of ribbon for use in wrapping lovely presents.  For examples of what I aspire to create, but really have no hope of reproducing, check out :A Gift Wrapped Life - Gifting Tips, Advice and Inspiration

It is truly divine!

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At my third stop (a local subdivision was having a community yard sale day – yay!), I found this shelf for $3.  While it is cute as is, I could paint it – it all depends on where I decide to use it in my new house.

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Here is the bread machine I bought.  I just took the picture a few moments ago and as you can see, it is sitting on my kitchen counter – what you cannot see, or more importantly what you cannot smell (and I am sorry about that) is that it is making bread.  I have toyed with the idea of a bread machine for a while and was even thinking about researching them and adding it to my gift wish list.  When I came across this, I thought I should give it a try.  It was priced at $15 and I am sure they would have gone down, but unfortunately, I had run out of cash and I had to ask them to hold it while I went to the ATM.  When I showed back up with a $20, I didn’t think I had a firm bargaining leg to stand on.  Too bad.  But, good lesson learned – not to self: never go out thrifing or yard sale shopping without lots of money in small bills. 

The last stop (with my newly replenished wallet) yielded some fun results.

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Basket – Free!

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I am thinking that this would be so cute if I painted over the mirror with chalkboard paint, which of course, I learned from reading all of the crafty/decorating blogs out there.  Can I paint directly over glass?  I guess I will find out…I think it will be cute in a kitchen or entry way.  The front has a compartment divided into three spaces that might work for sorting mail or something.

And, finally….

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This croquet set, which I thought might be a fun activity in the yard, especially when we have family visiting or are hosting an office party.  I paid $10 for it and when I got in the car, I started wondering if that might have been too much.  I had visions of all the $3 furniture you guys have gotten!  But, when I got home and looked it up online, I saw what appears to be an identical set at LL Bean for $129!  Exciting!

All in all, I spent about $40, but I had a wonderful morning and I think I got some really nice things.  I will let you know how the bread turns out – keep your fingers crossed for me.

Posted in Decorating, Shopping | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

A busy life…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 17, 2009

Friends, I have had a hard time finding time to breathe lately, much less blog.  But, I am still embarrassed at the length of time I have been silent in this forum.   Here is a short synopsis to catch you up on what has been going on in my life.

I went to Myrtle Beach last weekend to attend my friend Shannon’s wedding on Saturday evening and to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and other family on Sunday.  The wedding was held on the beach and the bride was absolutely radiant.  I hope that her wedding was her perfect day – it certainly seemed to be.  Here is a picture of us:

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Doesn’t this just look idyllic?

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There vows were beautiful.  My uncle officiated at the ceremony (he is a judge) and as usual, I was filled with pride and love for him.  He did an excellent job of tying their knot.  I was so glad to have been there.  While Myrtle Beach is an 8 hour drive from Montgomery, at least it is do-able.  When we move to Wichita, I won’t be able to go for the weekend.  As glad as I was to have been there, giving up a weekend (and a Monday) makes for a very long week.  As I work 8 hours each day and then go out to the stables to work and play for another 3 or 4 hours each day, there isn’t a lot of free time Monday – Friday, so I need the weekends to get caught up on household chores, shopping, laundry, blogging.

In other news…we found out this week that our movers are scheduled to come June 3 – 5.  That is now 2 1/2 weeks away!  Trying to wrap my head around all of the necessary details to make this work has been consuming me this week.

Also, I have some other big, concerning things going on in my personal life, so your prayers and well-wishes are very much appreciated.

Thanks for standing by me….I should have some interesting posts coming up – I went out yard sale-ing yesterday, I have been making progress with the horse I have been hired to ride, and I am going with “A” tomorrow to look at a horse she is interested in buying.

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A good ride…

Posted by mandyhuckins on May 6, 2009

For those of you who are interested in reading about my riding life, here is a post for you (it has been a while).  For those of you that are more interested in my shopping/decorating posts, you can tune this one out. 

I have mentioned before that a very cute 15 year old rider at our stable has a red-dun quarter horse named Jack.  She rode western when she first purchased Jack, but she has decided that she is now interested in the challenge of dressage.  Obviously, these are two very, very different disciplines.  They have asked for my help in re-training Jack.  And, because I only have a little over a month left in Montgomery, we are under a time crunch.  So, I am supposed to be riding him at every possible opportunity.  Last week, I had some nice rides on him – at the walk and trot.  But, things fell apart whenever I tried to canter.   One night, he picked up the canter, but was so unbalanced – it was horrible.  Another night he had a total melt down the minute I would ask him for canter.  I took him to the round pen and had him canter in both directions several times, but he couldn’t maintain the canter for more than one circle around and he just looked off-balance and horrible.  After one canter attempt, when he came back down to trot, I noticed that he looked off.  I stopped him immediately and brought him out.  Sure enough, he was lame.  It looked to me like it was up in his stifle.  When I came to check him the next morning, he looked better – much less stiff.  So, I tried to get on him again that night.  I asked the barn owner, who was out in the ring giving a lesson, to watch him.  He was still short striding (taking a much shorter step) on his left hind leg than his right hind leg.  As luck would have it, the vet was already coming out the next day.  He looked at Jack and pronounced that he was sore in his heels and needed back shoes.  He also had us put him on some pain meds for a few days until the farrier could get there. 

I must admit, I was skeptical that this would solve our problem.  The farrier came on Monday and I put Jack on the lunge Monday night.  He has been known to exhibit bad behavior on the lunge, but that night, he was excellent.  He listened to my voice and walked, trotted and stopped on command.  He looked pretty good (maybe still a bit stiff on that left hind), so I didn’t want to overdo it.  Last night, I got back in the saddle.  He was great!  He didn’t have any meltdowns.  He sprung right into trot when asked.  He is staying down and round through his transition to trot (the down transition still needs work, but it is getting better too).  We even did a little shoulder-fore at the walk (this is when you ask the horse to bring this front half a little to the inside – it is helpful in getting the horse soft and round).  He did trip a few times when I first started….but, overall, he felt so good that I decided to go for broke and ask for canter.  I did have to chase him into it a little bit, but he stayed calm, did not freak out and toss his head up and we cantered nicely around a circle about three times before I asked him to come back to trot.  The barn owner said it was the best transition to canter she has seen him do.  That is sad…but, I was also very excited.  Poor boy!  His acting out was because he was in pain.  😦  I guess all of the work I have been asking him to do in really using his back end and carrying more of his weight back there was causing his heels to hit the ground more than (or harder than) usual and it was making him sore. 

I also had the chance to ride Dancer.  I have noticed that she has really been ignoring the aids when asked to trot.  So, my goal for yesterday was to sharpen that up.  She was definitely getting better by the end of the ride.  We also had several very nice transitions to and from canter.  And, I introduced a movement called Travers (pronounced like “tra-ver” rhymes with where).  Anyway, this is when you bring the horse’s hind end in.  They must remain bent in the direction of travel and cross their legs as they move down the rail.  (That is probably the worst description of all time!)  I am hoping that using this movement along the rail will help to develop my half-pass.  There are actually some different schools of thought about this – some people like to use Travers and other trainers think it shouldn’t be used because it is encouraging horses to be crooked.  I am of the “all things in moderation” mind – I think it should be fine as long as I don’t overdo it and mix it up with shoulder-in.  I want her to be more in tune with my change in seat bone position and I think that these types of movements will help.

All things considered, it was a nice night at the barn.

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