Thursday, October 30, 2008

My First Love, Part 3

When I was in 6th grade, my parents gave in and agreed that it was time for me to have my own horse. My trainer put out feelers with her contacts to find me one. Shortly after, she was informed that there was a horse boarded at a barn across town that had just gone up for sale. She was a bit older, but was a veteran show horse who had been winning on the show circuit in LA County. Her name was CC with a show name of Critic's Choice. A little, shiny bay mare, she was as cute as could be. My trainer and I went to the barn across town and tried her out. She was nice, a little stubborn - which is typical of a mare, but she seemed like a good fit for me.

We decided to bring her back to my barn and try her out for a week before making a decision. Things went well during the trial, and after a couple of weeks she was mine.

This, however, is the one and only picture I have a CC. It was a short-lived partnership between the two of us. As we trained for the upcoming show season and pushed her a bit at the jumping, we realized why she had been sold in the first place. She had become sour which meant she had lost the desire to jump. I would estimate that during the time that I owned her I jumped about 75% of the fences WITHOUT her. She'd stop and I'd fly over her neck onto to the ground on the other side of the jump. I was only about 10 at this time so my trainers would often get on to work her and she would even stop with them. She was not the horse for me and over time fear set in and I didn't enjoy riding her or anyone else. It's not fun riding a horse when you fall off of it all the time. I got scared and, even though I always "got back on" I wasn't having any fun. We finally decided to put her back up for sale. Luckily, we were able to sell her, but my confidence was shot after having this little horse. We were in the market for a new one, but I wasn't so sure a new one would help my confidence.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesdays haven't been coming easy to me lately. It is October 28 and still like a zillion degrees here in sunny SoCal. When it's hot (and it has been for many months now) I don't feel like cooking over a hot stove. I don't make elaborate things because the heat just zaps my energy at the end of the day. In fact, I have stooped to making pb&j sandwiches for lunch over the last few weeks. (This is really just me complaining about it being the end of October and still 90+ degrees outside. I will stop now and do the Tasty Tuesday)

This weekend I did do some cooking...I didn't want to let down my readers.

Basic Risotto
(I serve this risotto as a side dish, but it can be made into a main course by adding vegetables or protein.)
Ingredients
4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp ev olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1 cup white wine (I use pinot grigio)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Put broth in a small saucepan and simmer.
2. In a large skillet, melt butter into olive oil over medium heat.
3. Add chopped garlic and saute for a short time, stirring to keep garlic from browning.
4. Add rice to pan and suate for about 2 minutes. Stir into butter/oil/garlic
5. Add wine to pan and let it cook away, 1-2 minutes. (The garlic and wine smell is probably my favorite when cooking) 6. Add broth from saucepan, 2 ladles at a time. Keep stirring after liquid is added. The rice will absorb the liquid rather quickly.
7. Continue adding ladles of broth and stirring, when the previous liquid has been absorbed, over the next 18 minutes or so.
8. Once all liquid has been added, the rice should be creamy and tender. Stir in the cheese and sald and pepper to taste.
9. Top with cheese when serving.
This risotto is so easy and yummy! The chicken and broccoli were cooked on the grill. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My First Love, pt. 2

At first, riding lessons were just that. Once-a-week, I went to the barn and was shown how to groom a horse, tack a horse, walk, trot, and canter horse, bathe a horse, feed a horse, and ride a horse. I savoured every minute of it.

After a little while, my lessons increased to twice a week, and then the woman giving the lessons gave my parents the name of a trainer who would be able to take my riding to the next level. I moved to another barn and started training there. I didn't have my own horse, but was allowed to use my trainer's horses.

After moving barns, I met a lot of new friends and my life revolved around the ranch. On weekends, my parents would drop me off for an 8:00 or 9:00 am lesson and I would spend the rest of the day just hanging out, calling them about 5:00 PM to come back and pick me up, still wearing my barn clothes and riding boots. By the time I got home, my boots had become one with my legs and my dad would literally drag me off the couch and around the living room floor trying to get them off my feet. Good times!

I still didn't have my own horse, but begged on a daily basis to get one.

I started showing my trainer's horses when I was about 9. Horseshows took up the weekend. Saturday was spent prepping for the show - bathing and braiding the horses, cleaning the tack, gathering the supplies, and putting everything into the trailer. We had to get up bright and early to be back at the ranch about 6:00 in the morning so we could load the horses into the trailer and arrive at the horseshow which usually began at 8:00 am and lasted all day.

Here I am riding Lady, one of my trainer's horses.

Here I am riding Cleo.
It was great that I was given the opportunity to ride and show other people's horses, but I wanted a horse of my own so badly that it hurt. I would come home from the barn, go to my room, stare at my Duran Duran posters and cry for hours about it. A couple of my close friends at the barn had their own horses and I would talk about them constantly. Finally, my parents gave in.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My First Love, pt. 1

From the ages of 6 to 18 years old, my life revolved around horses.

It all started when I was about 5 years old. My mom took me to a local stable that rented horses by the hour to take on trail rides. My mom paid for our ride and we were led to the horses. Mom got a nice bay (brown) horse, and I got a horse with a perm. Here I am with the Farrah Fawcett feathered hair. Also, if you look closely, you can see the rubber "thong" or flip flop key chain attached to my belt loop. Gotta love the late 70s.

Mom had never been on a horse before, but the two of us set off on an hour ride through the wilderness, which is now West Ranch (for those of you who are local to the SCV). I remember bits and pieces of this ride, but Mom and I were reminiscing about it last week and she had more details. She and I rode for a little while in one direction. We wanted to go the other way on the road, but changing directions kind of seemed like we were going back to the barn to my mom's horse. Now, if anyone has ever been on a trail horse before, you know that when a trail horse thinks it's going back to the ranch, there's no stopping it. It wants to go back. So, my mom's horse was stubborn and kept turning around on the road, wanting to go back. Apparently, I took charge. "Come on mom," I said as I took the other horse's reins and led her horse alongside mine (the one with the perm) while we walked passed the ranch area and along the road for the rest of our ride.

That did it. I got the sickness; the horse lover's sickness. I think it is genetic though because my Grandpa Chet, on my mom's side, also loved horses. In fact he owned race horses. He passed away before I turned one, but his love of horses must be in my blood. I begged and begged my parents to let me take horseback riding lessons. Around that time, I was also signed up for AYSO soccer. My parents gave me a choice; it was soccer or riding lessons. I'm sure my parents were secretly hoping that I chose the cheaper sport of soccer, but I didn't.

I started riding lessons with the help of my Grandma Dot (mom's mom) when I was 6, and for the next 12 years, horses were my life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

This week's recipe is so yummy but so sinful! It is not a low-cal recipe, so the health concious beware. I'd like to play with it a bit to see if I can lessen the fat content, but I haven't wanted to ruin it. If anyone has any ideas let me know. I served this at a Christmas dinner last year along with some other Christmasy dishes and it was a hit. If you are looking for something rich and super-duper easy, try this. (I don't have any photos of this one. The next time I make it I will take them.)

Chicken Breasts in Tarragon Cream Sauce
Ingredients
4 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 pounds)
Salt and Pepper
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3/4 cup dry white wine (I use pinot grigio)
1 cup heavy cream
2-3 tsp fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped
the juice of 1 lemon
12 oz cooked egg noodles

Directions
1. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 seconds. Carefully place chicken breasts into the pan and cook them for about 1 minute on each side just until they begin to brown slightly. Transfer the still-raw chicken to a plate.
2. Reduce the heat to low. Add the wine to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the cream and half the tarragon. Return the chicken breasts to the pan and adjust the heat so that the cream gently simmers. Cover and cook until the chicken is firm and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Transfer the chicken breasts to a serving dish. The sauce should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. If it is too thin, continue to simmer it for about 1 minute and it will thicken. Stir in the remaining tarragon and the lemon juice, then taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
4. Add chicken to egg noodles and cover with sauce. Mmmm!

Note: Start the water for the noodles so it is ready when you begin the chicken. Add the noodles when you start the chicken. They will be done at about the same time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Day

I "stole" this idea from Karen at For the Love of Pete. Her post was about a weekday, which I think would be fun, but before I do that, I thought I would document my Saturday. It was a busy one...
Saturday, 10/18/08
7:45 am Last night I set my alarm for 8:30 am. This morning, I rolled over and looked at the clock on the bedside table and went into panic mode when I saw it was 5:30 and my alarm hadn't gone off. I checked my alarm and saw that it was set for 8:30 which reminded me that it was Saturday. I whispered, "Yay!" and rolled over to go back to sleep. I must have gotten myself all riled up with panic because I had trouble going back to sleep and then woke again at 7:45 and just decided to start my day. This is how it is everyday really. I wake up, Koho jumps out of bed, I let her outside, she comes back in and goes back to sleep...lucky dog.

8:00 Worked out on the elliptical while watching Desperate Housewives.

8:45 Showered and dressed

10:00 am Went grocery shopping at Stater Brothers and mailed a package at the mail store right next door

10:30Back home

10:40 Put away the groceries and got changed into my clothes for the rest of the day.

11:30 Went to my friend Kristen's house to visit for a bit before leaving to have lunch.

11:45 Painted Emily's (one of my favorite people) nails while Kristen and I talked.

12:15 Kristen, Emily, and I went to lunch at the Olive Garden. It was a girls day out as the boys were camping with their dad for the weekend. We enjoyed our time talking about what has been going on with each of us...my job, her kids, oh and also why boys have such a fascination with their poop and "sitting" in the bathroom for long periods of time. I know gross, but true.

2:00 We went to Michaels where I purchased some crafty things to make for holiday gifts for my co-workers...Then to the shoe store where, surprisingly, I didn't find any shoes I liked, but Kristen did. Emily and I counted all the pink shoes in the store.
3:00 Stopped at Coffee Bean for a caramel blended and to read my book until my next "appointment"

3:40 Met them (my friends/co-workers) for a movie - "The Duchess" and dinner at Vivoli. We ate, drank a bottle of wine, and solved all the world's problems...at least our own little world's problems.

10:00 Back home where I caught up on some recorded TV including "Real Time" with Bill Maher.

11:30 Back up to bed, writing this post.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Open a Book

(Thanks to Jill for allowing me to use this picture of Téa)
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
-Arnold Lobel

Don't Forget to Tell Me What You Think in the Poll ---->

The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle is actually three short novels published together into one. All three are about the Irish-Catholic Rabitte family and take place in Barrytown, a working-class suburb in Dublin. All three of the stories were made into movies, the most well-known being The Commitments.

Various members of the family are the subjects in each story. I come from a very small family, so reading about a very large family and all the craziness was a lot of fun. Plus, these stories have the typical Irish wit prevelent in all of Doyle's novels. It is laugh-out-loud funn.



The Magician's Boy by Susan Cooper is only a few years old now. It was recommended to me by a children's bookstore owner and what fun it is!

The magician's boy wants to be a magician so badly, but the magician doesn't think he is ready yet. While the boy assists the magician at one of his shows, he gets pulled into the Land of Story in order to find the missing St. George puppet. Along the way, the boy meets many "old school" fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. They help the boy find St. George. Does he become a magician? You'll have to read it to find out!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

A couple of weeks ago, I bought some new appliances, a treat for my birthday. I have needed a new refrigerator and dishwasher since I moved into my house almost 4 years ago, but some other house needs always came up so these two appliances kept getting put on the back burner. My mom has been in town for the last month, yes that's right, a month. For my birthday, she helped me purchase a new side-by-side refrigerator and dishwasher.

I really, really like the way the stainless steel looks and would have gone with that color, but I love my stove and have no need to get a new one. My stove is white and I didn't want to buy stainless steel while having a white stove, so I bought a white fridge and dishwasher. They are by no means the top of the line, but they both give me so much more room and the fridge has ice and water at the door.

I cleaned out my fridge before the new one was delivered, so right now I have about 4 things combined in the fridge and freezer unless you count the endless amount of condiments in there. I can't wait to go to Costco and buy really big packages of things. Up until now, I haven't had any room for large bags or boxes of anything. Now I do!




Yay! I love new appliances.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Vote


(Ooooo, yikes, that's terrible. Click the picture to read the comic. It's quite funny.)
So, the election is on November 4. I am soooo looking forward to it. I am hoping change is in sight. For all of my voting career, I have done the absentee ballot thing because I have been either too lazy to go to the polls, or too busy. I sat down tonight to fill in my absentee request form and had second thoughts about it. This is the first time that I have been PASSIONATE about the outcome of November's election, and maybe I should actually go to the polls and cast my vote. Is that more of a statement than just sending in the absentee form that probably doesn't even get counted until after the election has been called anyways? Or, am I just being sentimental? Maybe you can help. I am holding my own poll (to the right). Let me know what you think. I will go with the majority, except the last one. I will vote, it's just a matter of how. The poll closes on 10/22. I need to get my absentee request in by 10/28.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For a Good Cause...For A Cure

Lean Cuisine is currently running their annual "Carry On the Cause" campaign. They are selling insulated lunch bags on their site and donate $5.00 from each bag to Susan G. Komen for the Cure - breast cancer wellness. The bags are only $9.95 each and that includes shipping and handling. They are totally cute and they are for a good cause. Stop over and get one for yourself, or maybe as a gift.

Tasty Tuesday



This weekend a friend of mine who moved to Hawaii a few years ago was in town visiting. We got together at my friend Marcie's house for Sunday brunch. Marcie made pancakes, potatos, and "scientific" sausage. Jason made bacon, and I made an egg dish. We had a very nice time visiting, and the brunch was delicious.

(From left to right: Anna, Jason, Marcie...I'm taking the picture)

Cheesy Egg Casserole

Ingredients
12 eggs, mixed
1 cup of milk
1 can crescent rolls
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sausage links, browned and cut up into bite-sized pieces
Veggies can also be added.


Instructions
Preheat over to 350
Spray 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray
Open crescent rolls, roll out, and lay flat in the bottom of the pan. Smush together so they cover the entire bottom.
Mix eggs and milk together
Add 1/2 cup cheese, sausage, and ???? to eggs
Stir all ingredients until mixed.
Pour into pan, over crescent rolls.
Add remainder of cheese to the top.
Bake at 350 for an hour.

Before taking out of oven, tip pan a bit to see if egg mixture is still runny. If runny cook a little longer. Cheese will be soft but will firm up while cooling.
Cool for a few minutes then cut into squares. I am told that salsa is very good on it (I don't like tomato products and eggs together).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Neil

Last Thursday I went to see Neil Diamond in concert with my mom, Mike, and some other friends. The show was at the Hollywood Bowl, which is a GREAT place to go. It was a good show, not the best I have been to, but still a lot of fun. Cher was even in the audience.

At 69 years old, Neil's still got it. He dances and sings and makes jokes. His voice cracked a little at the beginning and he moves a bit slower. When he would walk from one side to the other, it took quite some time. He solved that problem though with a moveable platform. He stood on it and sang or played the guitar and the platform moved for him. He's so clever.
I grew up on Neil - my mom and dad were big fans - so the old stuff is what I like. He has a new album out, so I was worried that he'd play mostly from that. Neil came through though and played most of his most popular old stuff - I Am, I Said, Forever in Blue Jeans, America, etc. More than anything I wanted him to play Sweet Caroline, and he did! I also wanted him to do You Don't Bring Me Flowers, but not just to sing it, instead I wanted him to sing it with surprise guest Barbara Streissand. It was such a surprise that Barbara didn't even know about it, and some other woman sang it. It was not as good and he even changed up the arrangement so it was hard to sing along.

Oh, well, overall it was fun. Here are two videos of America - one of his last songs. (Sorry for the shaky cinematography - it's hard to dance and film at the same time. I did keep the singing to a minimum so as to not outsing Neil.)

video



video

I know, that single, bouncing hand is annoying.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Spoke Too Soon

DAP had been making progress, but this week was not a good week. In class he has been fine behavior-wise. He continues to struggle getting his work done, but besides that, he's pretty respectful in class and when he isn't we deal with it and he quickly becomes respectful.


Well, this week has been a different story. In class he has been OK, but on the playground he has fallen apart. It all started on Tuesday when the yard supervisor told me at lineup that he and one of my mutes (that's right, I have more than one) had been sent to the office for hitting, each other. Our principal/assistant principal have done a pretty good job taking on the behavior during recess time so the classroom teachers don't have to deal with it when it's severe. We have a lot of playground issues at our school and it was taking up a lot of our time; time away from teaching our classes. So DAP and my mute (let's call him CJ) were sent to the office and I was notified about it. They spent part of the afternoon in the office working with the AP and the psychologist (who happens to work with both students) trying to get to the bottom of it since fighting is a suspendable offense. It turns out that they were "play" fighting and it got out of hand. They were told to write letters of apology to each other and then to apologize verbally. The AP and psych had to turn their heads so CJ would apologize quietly, and he did. Things seemed fine and they came back to the class.


On Wednesday, I was out with Mr. Show doing a training, so I had a substitute in my room. That afternoon when I went to the classroom to cleanup and prep for the next day, there was a note from my sub stating that DAP and CJ were, once again, sent to the office for fighting. Great! Apparently, both boys were happy to see the AP and when she asked DAP what had happened, he smiled and said, "I think CJ's going to talk to you today." Hmmm?


Again, Mr. Show and I were out of classroom at a training on Thursday, and I had the same sub in my room. I read the sub's notes at the end of the day and saw that DAP was sent to the office at recess for hitting another student, and then sent home on a 2-day suspension. Later it was noted that the AP took CJ out of class at the end of the day today and, he didn't return. I met with my AP at that time to hear about what happened. As it turns out, DAP punched another one of my students (the child of a colleague of mine) in the back today, yah, that's right! So he was suspended for two-days. The kicker on this one is that when the AP called his mother, she was mad that Thursday didn't count as a suspended day since she had to take Thursday off too to pick him up. Yah, that's what she was mad at!


The AP then flipped over DAP's file and got to CJ's file. He was sent to the office for also hitting another student, a different one thank goodness, and suspended for two days as well.


With some kids, it always seems to be something.

Construction Completed

Phew! I was finally able to figure it out and my blog is back to being pretty again...different, but pretty. I would be here all night if I tried to explain what happened, but I spent the last two nights trying to figure it out, and I finally did. Let's just say a stupid mistake made by me and a glitch with blogger caused me to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. So glad I did, cuz I love the "The Cutest Blog on the Block" backgrounds, and they are so easy. Really, they are! What do you think of the new, new look? I miss my red a little, but I like that this one is easier on the eyes and doesn't do the funky transparant picture thing. So for now, I'm happy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

  • Oh for crying out loud! I tried to be all fancy (since JLo told me to) and I played around with my background. Well, I LOST MY WHOLE THING! I even saved a copy of the code before fooling around and it still doesn't work. I've lost all my widgets and thingys and doohickeys. My blog is still open during repairs; please excuse the construction zone.
  • A couple of weeks ago I ordered a printer/scanner/fax machine from Costco. It's this one...
    I'm so excited because I can scan old photos and make them better using photoshop. Now, I also have bloggin material up to my eyeballs. Just wait, childhood story after childhood story. Looking through the old pictures reminds me of some fun ones, and having pictures to go with them make them much better.
  • I've been asked about my lack of Tasty Tuesday posts during the last few weeks. I have been slacking. My mom has been in town from Hawaii, and we have been busy going out to visit friends and when we have been home, I haven't felt like cooking. She leaves tomorrow, so I should have some time this weekend. In fact, I am going to a brunch on Saturday and am bringing a really, yummy egg dish. I will post about it next week.
  • I have been waiting for season 6 of The Shield to come out on DVD for a year and finally it has. It came from Netflix a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't had time to watch it. My mom has been in town, but this Saturday she went to visit some friends. I spent all day Saturday getting my Shield fix.. Two more discs to go to get through the season, so I can start watching season 7 on my DVR. I love those bad, bad boys


  • I went to a wine bar with some friends this weekend and funnily enough, our waiter looked just like the guy above, on the left. Spooky!

  • I had salsa tonight and JLo and Julie joined me. The other "ladies" were less annoying this week, or maybe I was just less annoyed.

  • The NHL's new hockey season starts this weekend! Yay! Hopefully my Kings will play better and get themselves out of the bottom for the first time in years.

  • I received two funny Halloween picture emails this week. They made me laugh out loud.

Halloween's gonna suck this year...

Drunken Pumpkin

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Open a Book

I love to read, and have since I can remember. Between the books I read for pleasure, for book club, and for work/school, I have probably read thousands of them, and of course have an opinion about each one. Some I don't remember and some I didn't like, but since I enjoy reading so much (when I have time) I do like most of what I read and thought this is a great forum to share my favorites. Since I couldn't find a day of the week that goes along with "book", actually it's not that I couldn't find one, there just isn't one, this may or may not be a weekly post. Anyhoo, if your looking for something to read, try one of these.
(Thanks to Jill for sending me this picture of Téa)
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
-Arnold Lobel


Life of Pi by Yann Martel was amazing. I have to admit that I was the dummy who thought it was a true story (because it's written like one and story teller states that it is), but that's just because it was so good and I guess I wanted it to be true.

A boy named Pi is the lone survivor when the ship he and his family are on sinks. Unfortunately, he is not alone in the lifeboat. The zoo animals that the ship was transporting also managed to survive and end up on the boat with Pi. The interaction between the boy and the animals is intense and, at times, heart-wrenching.

I was exhausted at the end of this one, but it was well worth it!


I have few favorite books because there are so many of them that I love, but Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes is one of my favorites. In the last few years, the language used in children's books has changed from formal and boring, to modern and conversational. These books are not always great for grammar examples, but they are so much fun to read.

Lily is a sassy, school-aged mouse who loves her teacher, but one day she comes to school so excited about some goodies she received from her grandma, including a purple, plastic, purse (who wouldn't love that?). These things distract Lily and the teacher finally confiscates the items until the end of the day. Lily is livid and her favorite teacher quickly becomes her least favorite teacher. The story continues as Lily learns her lesson, and all is right in Lily's world again. Cute, cute, cute!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Salsa, Salsa, Salsa

So, I've been taking this salsa class for almost a year now. It's a blast! JLo signed up for it along with her friend Julie, but in the four weeks of class we have only attended together once. They need to come to class soon! (Hint, Hint)

The group in attendance this go round is different than it's been in the past. It's an older group. I DON'T have anything against an older group, except maybe a little bit with this group. This is my 3rd class with the current instructor. She is great - very professional, patient, and helpful, but for the last 3 weeks that I have been in attendance, they have complained to her about the stupidest things. I have a "tendency" to roll my eyes when I am annoyed and tonight I think they got stuck inside my brain. They have complained that her music is too quiet. They have complained that her music is too loud. They have complained that she doesn't say the steps soon enough. They have complained that she says the steps too early. They have also complained about the way she calls the steps. They want her to change the names of them so they can understand them better...seriously, the names of the steps. My eyes are rolling as I write this. I need my "young" friends to join me again so I have someone to commiserate with. These ladies are killing me.