Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Birthday Surprise

This year was the big 3-0 birthday for me and I must say I was dreading it a little! Even though everyone says the 30s are the best decade, it just sounds so grown-up! But if my birthday day is a good indication of the next decade, than it's going to be an wonderful decade.

Everyone was very amazed that Ryan: A) kept it a secret and B) got me to La Cazuelas at 6 p.m. - and somehow I thought it was my idea! I was truly surprised and so appreciative of my sweet friends and family and that Mom and Dad drove such a long way for a short trip! I love having almost all of my favorite people together and cannot imagine a better birthday.

The day began with my riding lesson at Reunion. Ryan took off Tuesday and Wednesday so he went with me - I'm so glad he can see where we are spending money each week! Reunion is a beautiful place and filled with wonderful horse people!

After my lesson we had lunch at Sweet Peppers and walked around the Renaissance - one of my favorite things to do. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool. So I was really unsuspicious when Ryan claimed to be worn out and maybe we could just go somewhere for an early supper.
And here's a picture of Ryan blowing out his candles - his birthday is two days before mine so we celebrate birthdays all week long! His birthday cake is always a Seven Layer Cake - seven layers of yellow cake with chocolate icing. I'll post the recipe soon. 

And here's a yesteryear photo of a past birthday - just because I so missed not seeing Sis on our birthday! She's in the blue and white to the side, I'm blowing out the candles. With a cake decorated by Net - she went all out using coconut flakes for the mane. I think this is our 9th birthday - so it would be 1992.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Other Boleyn Girl

One of the best books I've read this year is The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. If, like me, you are a little obsessed with anything Royal right now it's a great historical fiction novel on the life of Henry VIII. Here's the Amazon description:

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands. A rich and compelling tale of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her own heart.

Seriously one of the best books I've ever read. I couldn't put it down. I came across this article today about the author and her writing process. Very interesting!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Poor Pepe

On Sunday we noticed Pepe seemed to have an abscess in his right ear. It was bigger on Monday so he and I headed off to the vet. As usual, Pepe was very excited in the waiting room but starting freaking out in the exam room. Turns out he had a hematoma from shaking his head too hard because of an ear infection! They drained it and he has to have his ear taped to the top of his head for a week.

Poor thing does not like the bandage on his head. He is an awful patient and acts like the world is coming to an end when we change the dressing. But he's getting lots of special treats and porch time sans Scout.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pete's New Beginning

"There is something about the
outside of a horse that is good
for the inside of a man."

This quote by Winston Churchill says it all, in my opinion. Yesterday, my family's much loved horse, Pete, went to a new home! I know. It was sad. I have cried.

BUT I am also very happy for him and for his new owner, Abby. Look at this wonderful picture:

She is 12 and Pete came into my life the summer Sis and I turned 12 - I don't know what I would have done during those challenging years of junior high when everything is awkward and girls are so judgmental about everything without sweet Pete. He taught me a lot about responsibility, sticking up for myself (usually against him), and finding out about what I enjoy in life. There's something about being able to control a 1,000 horse that makes you feel sure you can handle life.

Pete wasn't our first horse but he was the first horse that was kid-rideable. My prayer is that Abby gets as much enjoyment out of her partnership with Pete that I did. The relationship a girl develops with her horse is so special. And one that stays with you.

Here's a picture of me and Pete the summer of 1995:

I think my smile and Abby's match!

You can read more about Pete here, here, here and here. Although, my prediction on that last link didn't hold true. Sorry EM!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One Chicken, Three Meals

Getting three meals out of one whole chicken is something Net showed me shortly after we married. My grocery budget was small and I was not used to cooking every night - I was learning to manage meal planning, budgets and being busy with work all day. It was a lot to get used to! Needless to say, I put my new Crockpot to good use.

I'd gotten out of the habit of buying and cooking whole chickens because the rotisserie ones at Kroger are so good. But a Pinterest recipe for a slow cooker whole chicken reminded me of Net's newlywed cooking advice!

The first step is to cook your chicken. Wash and take out the inside stuff (I shake it over a plastic bag in the sink so I don't have to touch it!) and then pat dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Put it in your Crockpot on high for three hours (or low for 6 to 8 hours) and add 1 cup water or chicken stock, a little white wine vinegar and 1/2 of a sliced onion.

Remove the chicken and let it cool. Save the liquid in the Crockpot (this is your soup stock). From here you have countless options. Think pastas, casseroles, enchiladas, etc. This is what I did last week:

Pepper Nachos
This was in Southern Living last summer and is one of their best recipes in my book! As you can see, I got a little excited about eating and forgot to take an after picture.

Chicken Salad
Mix two cups shredded chicken with about 1/2 cup lite mayo and season with celery seed, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add chopped red onion and celery if you have it. Adjust seasonings and mayo to your tastes. Serve over lettuce with crackers or make sandwiches.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Make sure there are no bones floating in the broth left in your crockpot - I use a fine mesh strainer. Chop and add any and all vegetables you have in your freezer. I added the tops of the yellow and red peppers from my nachos, carrots, a can of kidney beans (drained), and season with salt and pepper or something like Cavender's Greek seasoning. Cook on the low setting for about an hour and then let cool and put in fridge or freezer until ready to eat.

This easily works for feeding two people but if you are feeding more I'd buy a larger chicken and/or have more sides! We ate the chicken nachos the night I made all of this and then had chicken salad and chicken soup during the next few days.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Quick trip to B'ham

Net came to Jackson on Thursday and bright and early on Friday morning she and I headed to Birmingham to see Sis. We had such a great time! We started with a birthday lunch to Chez Lulu where we all ordered the French brie and roasted red pepper sandwich. It was delicious!

I jetted out during nap time and found my new favorite store in Birmingham - Carousel Tack Shoppe.  I went in with the intention of just looking and came out with paddock boots and half chaps!

Elizabeth Magee is growing and changing and learning and so, so much fun to be around. She is really into playing with baby dolls - I wonder who she is copying? We had some great "big girl" time at the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning.

And her baby sisters continue to be precious beyond words. Poppy has really caught up growth wise to Mary Thorne and it's amazing how much they've changed since I last saw them a few weeks ago! Mary Thorne is in pink and Poppy in blue.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Berry Picking, Pie Making and a Decade of Friendship

Last Saturday I picked five quarts of blackberries at Locust Grove Berry Farm on West Countyline Road. It was so fun and it looks like they will have blackberries for another week or so. I got home and wondered exactly what I was going to do with five quarts of blackberries - I didn't have enough containers to freeze them all!

I made Blackberry Sauce based on a Williams-Sonoma recipe where you bring a 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil over med-high heat and then stir in 2 pints (about 4 cups) of blackberries. Reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally about 8 minutes until berries break down. Transfer to a blender and add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Puree and then strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
My set-up: I used a Cuisinart "smart stick" instead of a blender and used a funnel and mesh strainer to  get out the seeds and pulp. I plan to use the sauce over ice cream and in smoothies - the goal, of course, is more smoothies than ice cream!

I used this recipe for my blackberry pie and realized later that I forgot the butter in the filling but we didn't miss it. The best part was eating it with Chad, Kristen, Witt and Katelyn - they came over last night for supper and we had a great time hearing all about their recent mission trip to Mexico and catching up on life in general! We met them exactly 10 summers ago - a few weeks before they got married when they were looking at the house they ended up buying next to Ryan on Salem Road in Oxford - and were immediately the best of friends.

Ryan instructing Witt in his first violent video game. Oh, the things we'll be remembered for...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pinterest funny and Nutella cookies

This really doesn't have anything to do with my post except that it mentions Nutella and I just think it's funny. I showed it to Ryan and I thought he was going to fall out of his chair with laughter.

Moving onto Nutella, I actually tried a Pinterest recipe! I usually just pin them and then forget when planning my meals all about my pins. They turned out really good. Next time I may add in the sugar that the recipe calls for just to see the difference.

That's the picture from Pinterest - mine weren't quite as perfect looking. You mix 1 cup Nutella, 1 egg and 1 cup flour. Roll into balls, flatten with the bottom of a glass, and then bake at 350 for about 8 minutes. The recipe on calls for 1/2 cup sugar.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Celebrating the Land of Liberty

My country, 'tis of Thee, 
Sweet Land of Liberty
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountain side
Let Freedom ring.
We moved to Jackson exactly six years ago yesterday and I don't think we've been in town for a 4th of July since! We made up for it yesterday though with a fun-filled Jackson day. The Old House Depot throws a party every year and I've always wanted to go. We finally got the chance and had a wonderful time enjoying music by Southern Komfort and great food including hot dogs and hamburgers with grilled peppers, avocados, Portobello mushrooms,  asparagus and other good things along with craft beer. The Old House Depot is one of my favorite stores in Jackson - and my favorite place to take visitors. We ended up sitting next to Leigh Allyn's dad's college roommate - I love small world connections!

Afterwards, we joined DeeDee, John Eric and Jane at the Hester's house for a quick swim before heading over to the Country Club to watch fireworks on the golf course. The fireworks were amazing - much better in person than in my picture!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flying Lead Changes

We've had all sorts of changes at our house this week - all have been good!

At my riding lesson at Reunion this morning I did my first flying lead change. It's a dressage move where the horse "skips" and changes leads at the canter. It's something I've always wanted to be able to do!

Dakota, my ride, is very talented! He was really hoping I had a carrot for him and not just my camera.

In other changes, Ryan started his peds rotation and is officially an M4. Yay! He was on call his first night and didn't get home until 9:30 p.m. - not so fun but at least it's only every 5th night. And the nice thing about call and post-call is that he wears scrubs which equals less laundry for me!

Someone was in a bit of a hurry getting out the door!

And, I started a new job this afternoon at Imaginary Company! I'm going to be doing a hodge podge of project management, writing, invoicing, graphic design, etc.