Happy Halloween

Hello world, I am back. I have a few short Halloween related items to share and then I may vanish again for months. No promises.

Halloweens of the past

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I’ve been going through some stuff and I found these old photos. The barn that I learned to ride at had Halloween parties every year where you could dress up with one of the lesson horses. My mom loved to come up with costumes for me. IN the top photo, i am riding Congo and we are the Kentucky Derby winners. The blanket of roses was made by gluing tissue paper onto a a paper blanket and must have taken her forever. I remember her creating each rose by wrapping tissue paper around a pencil, putting glue on the end and then gluing it to the blanket.

The bottom right photo is me on Blue when I was the Headless Horseman. My mom made the cape and the front panel is sheer enough that I could see through it. The head was a mask with a beach ball inflated inside and a strap added so that I could out it on my arm. The bottom left photo is the same costume sans horse.

Creating a unicorn pumpkin

I’m on the Halloween committee at work and one of the events we put on this year was a pumpkin decorating contest. I wasn’t going to bring a pumpkin in but changed my mind after seeing a video on Facebook where someone creates a unicorn pumpkin. I took photos of the process.

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Look! Supplies!

Supplies

  • One pumpkin. I choose one of the few remaining white pumpkins at the pumpkin lot. It didn’t sit entirely straight but people who buy pumpkins on October 30th can’t be picky.
  • Craft foam. Rainbow colors for the mane and tail. Gold sparkly for the horn, black sparkly for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Pink sparkly for the inside of the ears and the cheeks.
  • Silver pipe cleaners for the horn
  • Scissors
  • Glue. I used both the hot glue gun and the super glue.

Then I failed to take any more photos of the creation process because it was so frustrating. I cleaned the pumpkin and dried it as best I could. What I learned. Buy your pumpkin more than 2 hours in advance and let it come to room temperature if it had been sitting on the ground on a 36 degree day. The pumpkin was ice cold and condensation kept forming on it.

I cut the stem off, since it kinda stuck out the back of the pumpkin.

I then cut out some tail shapes out of the craft foam, plugged in my hot glue gun, and starting gluing the tail to the pumpkin. HA! It was at that moment that I questioned my sanity. The tail didn’t look that great and the glue was hardening immediately upon contact with the cold pumpkin. Then I bumped the pumpkin and everything fell off.

So time to re-group! I super glued all the tail pieces together and only glued my fingers slightly together. Then I used a crap ton of hot glue to stick the tail pieces to the remainder of the stem. And it worked!

So then I started cutting more hair pieces and hot gluing them around the back and sides. After a time had passed, I didn’t think the pumpkin would ever look good, so I decided to make the horn and face. Since I had a limited amount of gold glitter foam for the horn, I wanted to make sure it would work the first time. I started making prototypes from scrap paper and was riding the struggle bus hard. Why couldn’t i make a simple cone? I actually had to Google it! To make a cone, cut out a triangle with a rounded bottom. So simple! Once I made the horn, I wrapped it with the silver pipe cleaners to add dimension and hot glued it to the pumpkin.

The eyes, nose, and mouth were all cut of the black sparkly foam. To make the ears, I cut an ear shape out the white foam and a smaller ear shape out of the pink sparkle foam that I attached for the inside of the ear. I then cut a notch in the bottom and used that to bend then ear into a more 3-D shape. Repeat for the other ear and glue the ears to the pumpkin. I cut some cheek pieces from the pink sparkle foam too.

I finished by attached more craft foam hair around the horn and above the face. It actually looked good! I called the hubby over and he was in awe, both at the pumpkin and the amount of time I had spent. I had also managed to cover the tips of three of my fingers with glue, so that was fun.

So how did it turn out?

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Not too bad! It was interesting to transport. I put it on my passenger seat and apparently the weight of the pumpkin was enough to make my car think that someone was riding with me and not wearing a seatbelt. So I drove the whole way into work with my car beeping at me every minute. Then it was windy at work, so I was walking sideways to try and shield the pumpkin from the wind. It won first place, so it all was worth it!

Riding

I dressed as a pirate for work. The skirt was a but short, so I wore my riding tights under it to keep from being indecent. So obviously that meant I needed to ride while dressed as a pirate.

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Sting was not impressed

And….the end.

 

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In which we look at a house

So I’ve mentioned that we are house hunting, right? I’m too lazy to look back, so if I haven’t, consider this to be the mention. Since pretty much all my previous experience finding rentals has centered around calling and asking one question, ‘what is your pet policy?’ and having that be the deciding factor. Not price, not location, not the actual rental but just will you allow me to live here with my dog and cat, I have always looked forward to the day when I could look at any house! No one would tell me I couldn’t have my dog! In fact, I could have two dogs! And three cats! And paint a room purple! Because it would be my property and anyone who didn’t like my decisions could shove it!

But yeah, house hunting has not been enjoyable. Which leads me to a rant featuring my mother in law and a house we looked at. Now before I get into the rant, just let me say that I am very lucky in my in-laws. They are kind, generous people and I truly enjoy their company. However, that does not prevent my mother in law from making what was intended to be a helpful comment which was not at all helpful looking back.

To set the scene, three weeks ago we received a notification from the MLS search that our realtor has setup that a new house has come on the market. The listing looks really nice with things that I want (a snack bar in the kitchen, patio right off the kitchen), things that the hubs wants (finished basement), and things that we both want (2 bathrooms!) in our desired village. I get so excited that we hop in the car and drive by the house at 11PM on a Friday night. We text our realtor asking for a showing and she sets one up with her assistant for the next day.

The next day we drive to the house.  The 35th house that we have seen this year. It is now daylight, so I notice what I overlooked the night before. That we are driving straight towards the landfill. I knew it was there but in my excitement the night before, I had overlooked that fact. We turn into the neighborhood, park, and enter the house. The house is on a higher elevation then the surrounding area and we are about half a mile west of the landfill. We walk in the house and my eye is drawn out the living room window. Where, the landfill is quite visible. I mean, it does look like a hill but a hill that I know is comprised of garbage. A hill that represents our throw-away culture. A hill that I really just don’t want to see every single day. I look at the yard and the yard is small. About five minutes of mowing with a push mower small. Too small to have a garden of significance size. Immediately, my gut says not this house. But! I have been too negative in this house hunt! I have made house hunting into a miserable experience. So I look at the positives.

The positives are many. The house is nice. Very nice. Hubs loves it. He wants to move into the finished basement. He is super impressed with the finishes. About half the yard in the back is a patio with plenty of room for a patio set, grill, and a fire pit. If you don’t want a veggie garden, this patio is really nice.

We leave and go to the barn. Hubs raves about the house to everyone there. I put on a nice show of enthusiasm too, which isn’t too hard if I don’t think about the landfill view or the yard size. I call my Mom and tell her about the house. I describe the location and bam! “Isn’t that right by the landfill?” she asks. Pretty much anyone familiar with the western suburbs is going to know our house is by the landfill. Hubs and I discuss the house that night. We discuss creative gardening. We discuss planting a bush to block the landfill view. We go on Google maps and attempt to map the backyard. We decide to setup a second showing with our realtor. We decide to ask our parents to come along.

After work on Monday, we all head to the house. I had talked to a couple people at work about the house. They all know it is right by the landfill. They all react negatively. I am considering spending the rest of my life (yes, I know houses can be sold but I really don’t want to buy a house just with the desire to sell it shortly after) embarrassed about the location where I live. I am less enthusiastic.

We meet my Mom and my in-laws at the house. As we are walking up to the front door, I make a remark that I’m really not sure about the view of the landfill. My MIL turns to me and says “Don’t be fussy, Rachel.” Don’t be fussy? DON’T BE FUSSY??? I make some inane remark about the landfill while all the blood rushes to my head in a fit of rage. I’m not saying something like all the light fixtures are all brass and I hate brass therefore I don’t want to buy this house. I’m remarking on a landfill view, something that will make me feel ashamed of the human race every time I see it, and would also probably cause problems selling the house in a slower market. Plus, if there’s anything I can be fussy about, it is buying something that I have to mortgage the next 30 years to pay for and something that will nearly wipe out our whole savings as a down payment.

We look at the house. We look at the landfill. We look at the backyard. People are working at the landfill now, so the backyard experience is punctuated by the sounds of trucks driving, backing up, and dumping their loads. And we take a pass to keep on looking.

Being confronted face on with the evidence of our wastefulness gets me really down. I snap at a coworker who throws a plastic bottle in the garbage. “That was recyclable!” He fishes it out to go put in the recycling bin and I feel super awkward. I can’t imagine living with the view of a landfill would make me very pleasant to be around and I don’t think I’m being fussy about that.

Well, that was productive

I came to the barn last night looking to ride. Sting had a few days off due to house hunting and all the headaches that brings. When I arrived at the barn, it was a beautiful, blue sky evening. I chatted with a few folks, changed, got my stuff out and pull out Sting. By the time I had Sting and myself ready to go, I walked outside and was greeted with a sky that was half blue and half a dark, dark grey.

I eyeballed the sky nervously and hopped on hoping to get a quick ride in before the storm blew in. After one lap around the outdoor, the temperature was dropping fast, the wind was picking up, and the horses were spooking. N, the resident trainer, had been teaching a lesson and yelled for her girl to get out and go inside. I decided that was a smart move to copy.

We moved inside, where I decided to hop on as long as the lesson was still going on. The wind was whipping and the downpour arrived. Fun fact, rain sounds much harder in an indoor arena. I rode for about 5 minutes, trotting for most of that time. N wrapped up her lesson and I decided that was my cue to be done too. After all, Sting and I aren’t in training for a heavy show schedule and there is nothing to be gained by riding around in a thunderstorm. Of course, about 15 minutes after I untacked, the worse of the storm had passed.

 

Itchy Sissy is growing fur!

Did I mention that once again, Sissy removed a large chunk of her fur? I can’t remember… Anyways, Sissy got bit by some bugs and reacted by becoming the most itchy of the itchiness. She took advantage of the stall wall and the hay rack in her stall to remove a chunk of her mane and also a large swath of fur on her side.

I tried varying treatments with varying degrees of success. First was the blu-kote, which was working pretty well. Then was a Betadine wash and triple antibiotic ointment. That was a total failure. Then Dr. J came out and took a look at Sissy. He gave me some scratches ointment and I tried that for a while. That somewhat worked. Then I switched back to the blu-kote. Then I started just leaving everything alone.

Yesterday, I came out to see a nice fuzz of new hair growing on Sissy’s side. Finally! I felt like an ogre over the summer. Between Sissy’s knee and her bald spots, I felt like a neglectful horse owner. Luckily, I board in a very understanding barn and fellow boarders love Sissy. She is still in a good weight, shiny coat, and loves attention. For the past three years, every year at about this time, I start thinking about Sissy’s quality of life. Can I really put her through another winter? Is her quality of life good? Does she get all the attention that she deserves?

I don’t know. All I know is that Sissy still eats (and loves) her food. At the end of the day, she will pound the wall with her bad leg to let me know I am not dispensing the cookies fast enough. She watches the barn activity. She bites the wall letting her neighbors know that she exists and that this is her barn and her stall and her airspace. People tell me that Sissy will let me know when it is time. I hope she does. I hate to think of her suffering.

Having an older horse sure is not easy.

Made it Monday – Chickpea Vegetable Soup

This is one of my favorite soups and it always makes me fee so thrifty because it is 1 – cheap and 2 – uses a Parmesan rind, something that I would otherwise toss away. I also always think of the good friend who told me about this recipe every time I make it.

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Soup

The recipe comes from the New York Times – Chickpea Vegetable Soup. The most difficult part is remembering to soak the beans the night before. The recipe doesn’t explicitly say what to do with the half an onion with the clove stuck in it or the remainder of the Parmesan rind. I end up fishing that stuff out and tossing it away, along with the bay leaf. I also don’t think I use quite as much salt as called for in the recipe. I do keep an eye on the soup and I have added more water as the water evaporates while cooking. So basically, soup! Very hard to screw up!

For those who read last week’s Made it Monday, you will probably guess that I do not add the lemon rind to the Parmesan cheese for serving. Ding, ding, you are correct! Ain’t nobody got time to zest a lemon! I just sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and serve with crusty bread and butter.

Made it Monday – Lemony Pasta with Peas and Ricotta

I’m bringing Made it Mondays back!

So for this Made it Monday, I am venturing into the land of foods no one in my household enjoys. It all started when my friend put out a plea on the book of faces for easy vegetarian dinners. I went to the simply recipes website, one of my favorite recipe sites on the internet and started browsing. A few pages in, I saw this – Lemony Pasta with Peas and Ricotta

Now why this jumped out at me, I have no idea. I am not a huge fan of lemons and the hubs does not like cooked peas. But for some reason this called to me. I saved the link in one of the 1586356285 open tabs on my cell phone and periodically, I would come back just to look at it. I had the desire for this pasta bad.

One night for dinner, I made it. So there were a few areas where I went off the rails. One, we did not have panko in the apartment. This was a shock to me, I could have sworn that we had a big container of panko in the cupboard. I looked and I made the hubs look and no panko to be found. I substituted regular bread crumbs instead. I also used green onions instead of the spring onions. Also, I hate zesting lemons and lemon zest. So there was no way I was going to zest a lemon enough to create two heaping tablespoons. I used two lemons, the zest and juice of one going into the ricotta cheese and the zest and juice of the other going into the pasta sauce? topping? onion and pea mixture? whatever it was.

So how was it? Well…..

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Not as appetizing looking as it was on the simply recipes website. Also, that is way too many bread crumbs

It was edible. The bread crumbs stuck to the pasta creating the most dry, sticky pasta. Oh, that was another thing I did not do. I did not reserve any of the pasta water to add at the end. The taste of lemon zest was too much and hubs wished that there were less peas.

I don’t think I will make this again, however, if I did, I would make some changes. First of all, have panko on hand. Alternatively, run a piece of bread through the food processor to create feathery bread bits and then toast those. Second, less lemon zest. The zest of one lemon would be plenty. Third of all, butter. Who wants to eat such dry pasta? Add some butter to it and maybe a little white wine too.

Hello again

Hello there to the internet. I’ve been thinking about this blog, which I am well aware is not the same as you know, actually blogging. So let’s throw down some bullet points, catch the internet up on my summer, and then maybe I will start posting again. Maybe. No guarantees.

    • The life and times of Sissy
      When we last updated on Sissy, she had an oozy, itchy hock and we were treated with (terrifying) hock boots. Sissy is doing good! The hock boots have really helped. I’ve been alternating between protecting her hocks with the boots and leaving the boots off but spraying a good coat of blu-kote on to allow some air to her hock.

      Sissy also got bit up by the bugs this summer. She has one bite in her mane, one on her neck, one bite on her right side, and six bites on her left side. Of course, in true Sissy fashion, she has itched herself raw on her hay rack. Tonight I treated her by washing her bites with betadine, followed by a bubble bath. Then I dabbed her bites with triple antibiotic, brushed out her mane and tail, and put her away with many cookies.

    • The f@3&ing shoe boil
      Still dealing with the shoe boil.

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      It opened on it’s own but then failed to stay open and keep draining despite my best efforts

      The vet opened the shoe boil up to allow everything to drain out. N and I were flushing the boil out daily and progress was going well until one day it wasn’t. Ugh. Dr. J keeps trying different methods to encourage the boil to heal from the inside out. He also recommended trying to bandage Sting’s elbow to keep it from getting irritated when he lays down. Sting is already sporting the shoe boil boot but somehow something is still irritating that elbow. My friend M and I tried to create a bandage using vet wrap and a diaper. The bandage looked good until Sting moved. Then failure. Dr. J mentioned that in the old days, they would put Sting in a slip stall and string him up so he can’t lay down until this heals. Well good thing we aren’t back in the old days then because no way am I doing that! I am looking at a set of elbow boots for standardbreds as an option.

      Looking on the bright side, Sting isn’t lame, not running a fever, and has a good appetite and attitude. Also, I can ride him even with the f@#$ing shoe boil.

    • Show!
      Sting and I went to a local schooling show. We showed first 1 and first 2. We got two thirds with scores in the 60s. So that was good. There is a video, so perhaps I will write a detailed post and share the video. No promises.
    • Lesson!
      I’ve taken a couple of lessons on Sting, Maybe I will write up detailed recaps, maybe not.
    • My eyes. my eyes!
      I went for a routine eye exam with my optometrist where it was discovered that my corneas are cloudy. A break from contacts did not clear up the cloudiness, so I was sent for a second opinion from an ophthalmologist, who also thought the cloudiness was an inflammatory response to contacts. Three weeks of treatment with progressively stronger steroid drops did not cause any improvement, so I was sent for a third opinion from an ophthalmologist specializing in corneas. This ophthalmologist ran some bloodwork and then sent me on my (not so merry) way to the eye institute and a fourth opinion. Good grief.

      All of this has been rather nerve wracking. I haven;t noticed any changes in my vision and am still seeing 20/20 or 20/25. My eyes also feel fine. I do think at this point, this is beyond something caused by contacts and veering into something is wrong with me. The next plan is to send me for additional bloodwork, specifically looking at my wacky low cholesterol. I’m just waiting to get the call to setup the appointment.

    • A thing that sounds fun but really isn’t
      House hunting! I’m starting to lose hope that we will ever find a house to purchase. I really want to move out of the apartment and into a house with two toilets (the luxury! No more debates over who gets the bathroom first), more storage, a yard, space for a veggie garden, and a patio. Oh, the dream….
  • Rain
    Stop it. Stop it now.

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    Well this will take a while to dry out. Ugh

    And we’re done! Recapped! Woot woot.