Friday, May 22, 2015


I've just begun writing for a Canadian magazine called Heels Down. It's a digital magazine aimed at the young equestrian crowd under 30 and they are currently having a #HeelDownChallenge that goes along with an article in the last issue about getting over a specific riding fear. I think all riders get fearful at one time or another - otherwise your brain is probably missing its amygdala!

Kristin filmed me this morning for the challenge. I wouldn't say that riding without stirrups is a particular fear of mine, but the stirrups are a crutch. I've been practicing trotting without stirrups and today added in a pattern including cones and a ground pole.

This exercise is an attempt to strengthen my inner leg muscles. Even though I considered myself to me very active in the exercise department, barre, Pilates and yoga are not reaching the right muscles!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Happy Birthday Net!

Today is my grandmother's birthday. I've learned many things from Net about cooking, gardening, flower arranging and party planning. Along with more general good-to-know life skills like how to take a Chi O bath (i.e. a spit bath) in a pinch and that you should never have a drink after supper. It looks bad. Here are five of her most frequent words of wisdom:

1. Be Particular.

In what you eat. In what you drink. In how much you eat. In how much you drink. In who you hang out with. At what time you get home. In where you go. In where you don't go. In who you date. In who you marry. In what you do with your time, your pocketbook, your whatever. Really these two words, that she quotes from her father, cover just about the whole gamut.

2. Do like the folks on the other side of the river and do without.

This is also a quote from her father, Granddaddy Buford, from whom I inherited my love of horses (even though he died a long time before I was born, Aunt Bubba has always told me that he and I would have gotten along splendidly).

Growing up in Louisiana, Net believed her father was referring to those people in Mississippi. After she married someone from Tate County she realized he was referring to specifically those people across the river in Tate County from his childhood home in Lafayette County. One of my favorite things we've done together is visit her childhood home, Trinidad.

3. You can hold a tiger by its tale if you have to. 

Anytime I'm going through a rough period, Net reminds me of this. It's true.

4. It's not always going to be fun.

This was Net's advice to me as a newlywed who was over the moon happy. At the time I dismissed it. But she was right. It's not always fun. Sometimes it's hard work. Sometimes it's petty. Sometimes I think I'll go mad if I have to pick up someone's dirty clothes from the floor when they are two feet from the hamper for the 1 millionth time. Sometimes it will drive you crazy. But more often than not it is fun. But the hard days come and when they do, it's nice to remember that it just is what it is and will be different tomorrow.

5. Does that need water?

My plants always need watering.

Happy Birthday, Net!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Simple Sushi Date Night

Ryan and I both love sushi, and it's something fun to cook together. The sushi rice and nori (seaweed wraps) came from the Asian supermarket, but Kroger also sells these. I was very surprised that Trader Joe's did not!

The first step is to cook your rice, following the directions on the package. My Nishiki rice recipe (using 1.5 cups of rice) made enough for three rolls. After cooking the rice and allowing to cool to room temperature, I added 1/3 cup of seasoned rice vinegar. This just makes it a little sticker. 

I realized on the last roll that we were going the wrong way. Do as I say, not as I do :)

The bamboo sushi mat strips should face you horizontally. Place the sheet of nori, with the shiny side down, on the mat. Top with one cup of rice and mash rice out gently leaving the top 1/4 of the nori uncovered. Place your fillings (we used carrots, English cucumber, crag legs, avocados and cream cheese) in a horizontal strip across the bottom portion of the rice. 

Start to roll and if you need to dip you fingers in a little rice vinegar. Press the bamboo mat to shape the roll. Dip a sharp knife in water between each cut and slice the roll into pieces. 

No pictured but we then sprinkled the rolls with sesame seeds. Next time I want to attempt to make them tempura rolls buy dipping the roll in panko bread crumbs and frying it. That's probably a little less healthy but what I always order at a restaurant! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Good Dog, General

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” - Josh Billings

This week my family said goodbye to my brother's dog, General. He may have lived with our parents, but General was Thomas's dog all the way! 

In 2002, when Sis and I came home for Thanksgiving break, Mom had a surprise: We were going to Water Valley and picking up an English Labrador Retriever to surprise Thomas. He'd been talking about getting a hunting dog for ages. I'm glad I didn't have to keep that secret for very long. 

We left him in Thomas's room and when Thomas and Dad came in from hunting we all stood on alert outside Thomas's door. He came out and said, "Is this a joke?" Why would we joke about that!?! Who would do that!?!

Needless to say, they were a dynamic duo from Day 1. General slept in his bed until one night Thomas had a dream where General was growling at him and told Thomas it was time he slept somewhere else. After that, General slept nearby, but not in, the bed.

He never went through the typical chew-on-everything-in-the-house like so many labs. He took on T's laid-back attitude and never caused a fuss about much. I may be romanticizing this bit as I was away at college for his puppyhood, but it seems that General just fit right in and we soon couldn't imagine home without him. 

T is telling me to quit taking pictures of his puppy!

Thomas spent hours working with General to turn him into a bird hunting dog. We were all so impressed with both of them. If Dad and/or Thomas wasn't planning on taking him hunting, they'd have to go about hiding the preparation because General would get so excited. And then they'd feel too guilty to not let him tag along.

Besides bird hunting together, General also watched over Thomas when he water skied at Lake Sardis. General would stand at the back of the boat and bark the entire time Thomas was skiing. He didn't do that for anyone else. It was a little insulting!

When Thomas went to Ole Miss, it was so hard on General. He'd wait for days at the end of the driveway looking for T's truck to pull into the cove. I think that was harder on my mom than having an empty nest! For everyone's sake, General joined Thomas for his last few years at Ole Miss - and was quite popular among the residents on South Lamar. He'd take himself on a walk and some cute girl would take him back. Thomas's roommates loved him! 

And in more recent times, he's been the perfect playmate to Mary Thorne. This precious girl loves a dog. I took these pictures last summer. She was trying to copy everything he did. 


I don't think it gets any cuter than a baby in pajamas and old dog. 

And this duck hunting dog even had a soft spot for baby ducks. My parents had two baby ducks for a short time a few months ago, and they thought General was their mama. They would just waddle around after him. 

I know it's such a blessing to have a dog love you and to love a dog. It's so hard when it's time to say goodbye. But I truly believe all dogs do go to heaven. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

South Carolina's Grand Strand

Is there anything nicer than spending a relaxing weekend at the beach? Especially when the national forecast shows most of the country had a rainy weekend. The drive from Greenville to the Low Country was gorgeous - there's about 100 miles of beaches, barrier islands and swampland along South Carolina's "Grand Strand." We explored four different areas and have a whole list of things for next time!

Myrtle Beach & North Myrtle Beach

We left Greenville about 7:15 a.m. on Saturday morning and had checked into our hotel and were enjoying a picnic on North Myrtle Beach by 11:45 a.m. It was awesome!

We parked around 40th Avenue between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. This is looking towards Myrtle Beach - you can faintly see the SkyWheel in the photo that's along the boardwalk. 

The houses along the beach were beautiful. This one has an infinity pool and waterfall. The sand dunes were very natural and the beach was much wider than what we are used to in the Gulf. There were also a lot more seashells that made walking a little difficult!

We walked a long way in both directions and took note of the wildlife - this jelly fish looks different than the ones I'm used to seeing in the Gulf. He was a little easier to spot!

In February and March there are so many Canadians that drive down, the town hangs Canadian flags and banners everywhere. We saw quite a few on restaurant flag poles. And many Canadian car tags. 

Saturday evening we walked around "downtown" Myrtle Beach. This weekend happened to be between the white bikers weekend and the black bikers weekend. There were all types of people here! And in this section it was obvious why South Carolinians call Myrtle Beach the "Redneck Riviera." It made for great people watching and tattoo spotting!

The SkyWheel was a highlight and offered great views of the area.  

Looking south towards Garden City. 

Looking north towards North Myrtle Beach (hometown of Vanna White!). 

The Gay Dolphin opened in 1946 and is one of the landmarks on the boardwalk and offers every type of t-shirt, tacky beach items, cute beach items and other memorabilia you can possibly imagine. Also, the Ripley's Believe It or Not is supposed to be endless, incomprehensible, and amazing - we are saving it for a future trip!

Apparently in Myrtle Beach the name of the game in restaurants is all-you-can-eat buffets and pancake houses. They are everywhere. Many people told us that the best of the best was the Original Benjamin's Calabash Seafood and Nautical Museum on King's Highway. Besides offering 170 items on the buffet, there is the actual model of the Queen Elizabeth that was shown to the real Queen Elizabeth before the ship was built in her honor. Ryan ate twice his body weight in King Crab legs. 

We ended the night with a walk on the beach - we had to digest a lot of food!

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach State Park is in Murrells Inlet and has three miles on undeveloped beach. We saw people walking dogs and riding bikes. It was paradise!

Also in the park is Atalaya, the winter home of Anna Hyatt and Archer Huntington. She was a renowned 20th century sculptor and he was a poet and scholar of Hispanic culture. His design for Atalya came from the Moor architecture in Spain. 

They did not include any guest rooms or social rooms at Atalya - it was a place for them to get away from their busy social lives in New York and Connecticut. They let the Army use it during WWII and upon their deaths, gifted it to the state. Very Downton Abbey-sih and I'm sure even Lady Mary would be impressed with this place!


Driving into the park, you pass over the Causeway. Here we saw three alligators!

See the two gators? There were people kayaking in the marsh. Brave souls - don't think I could do that knowing I'd be passing alligators! 

Pawley Island

Pawley Island has the charm and remote feeling of Fort Morgan in Alabama, but there's a Fresh Market two blocks from the beach. And many cute shops and restaurants that we'll have to explore on our next trip. There were no big condo buildings - just little beach houses and a few hotels along Highway 17. It really was the best of both worlds.

The tiny town hall and police station. 

Even the public beach access was picturesque. 



We had a great time and can't wait to go back!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Talk IX & First Swim of the Summer

Things are still happening in the yard and garden. Now that the basics are covered and the big goal is to keep everything watered and the weeds down, I've moved on to my fun to-do list!

First up this week was getting the water garden going. A friend had suggested I go to South Pleasantburg Nursery for water plants. They had an amazing selection of all kinds of plants, but I had no idea water lilies were $35 bucks. So instead I got the Blue Moneywort for $10 - it likes to float in the water and and has intense, small tubular purple blooms. Only one fish is left from the five we bought a few weeks ago. Sad! I really don't think Scout is the culprit so, hopefully, having a little protection for the fish will help. There are a family of owls that live in our back pine tree so I think they may be snacking on the fish. Next up is a water pump like the one we had at the last house.

One of the hostas in the front yard has bloomed...

And in the garden, everything is growing like weeds! Garden humor...

And we have GRAPES - Concord Grapes - that are still tiny but are going to be so good. I'm hoping to try my had at wine if we have enough. Here's a close up:

And here's the whole vine:

Along the side of the porch, the lemon balm has been removed and I spread out my zinnia seedlings. The yellow rose bush continues to bloom. 

And these blackberry looking things are dropping from a tree in the backyard. Do you think they are safe to eat? I can't decide! Also, my hands look wrinkly! What do I do about that? 

This spot in the front bed continues to be my big challenge. I'm a big believer in what Felder Rushing calls "one handed gardening" meaning you should be able to do all you need to in the yard with one hand holding a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. I do both - depending on the time of day!

I planted both of these in that spot this morning - coneflowers and malva - so we'll see in about 15 days what happens with those. Stay tuned!

In other news, I took Pepe and Scout to Falls Park one afternoon to play in the water. The weather was too nice to stay indoors. We had this section of the park to ourselves and, besides a few ducks, I don't think we disturbed anyone. We even got lucky and found an empty swing. 

Needless to say, Scout didn't stop jumping around until I made them get out. Pepe swam and drank as much of the water as he could. Crazy dog hates getting in the bathtub for a bath but absolutely loves the water. Go figure!

No trip downtown is complete with a King of Pops popsicle. Happy Friday!

Watch my garden grow III, IIIIVVVIVII and VIII.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Impromptu Trail Ride

Kristin and I went on an impromptu trail ride yesterday afternoon along with Sonya and Sham. It was a girls day kind of afternoon.

Sometimes a beautiful May afternoon calls for getting out of the arena and doing some exploring. The land behind the barn is being cleared so we rode down to check it out and then decided to keep going. 

At first we thought this sign said "Keep Out" and were about to turn around. Turns out it says "Keep the Dust Down" so we rode on and I think made the day of the nice men working at Southern Sales on Poinsett Highway. They all came out and waved at us. 

We looked at their tractors and trailers. 

And turns out female equines and humans are quite similar in that they like to go visit the ladies' room together.

Isn't Shamrock pretty? She's classic horse and so well behaved. I don't want her to go back to her camp this summer, but we have few more weeks together!