Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell to a great year.

I have to say, 2013 has been a solid year.  2011 started out strong with my first ever trip to Disney, but then slid downhill from there.  2012 was just awful, and I went into 2013 with no expectations whatsoever.  Maybe for that exact reason, I am overly satisfied with the way it turned out.  Aside from an exceptionally stressful Christmas season, I can't complain.

Last New Year's Eve, Josh and I had our annual pajama party and rang in the new year with some great friends.  We exchanged gifts with my parents, and I gave Mom the gift of another cross country road trip (more on that later).  January 13th was my first Patriots game at Gillette against Houston; turns out even the losers are bigger in Texas.  The weather was perfect, and we had an awesome day.

Face value tickets for a playoff game?  Yes, please!

Later that month was our family trip to Disney.  Aside from developing a mystery stomach bug (which resulted in three hospital visits once back home) and spending half of the trip sick as a dog, it was wonderful.  I didn't care how uncomfortable I was; nothing was about to ruin the most magical place on earth for this kid.  Josh went on the Star Wars ride approximately 65418964 times, I fell in love with the Aerosmith Rock N Rollercoaster (zero to sixty in 2.8 seconds!), and we came thisclose to giraffes during the safari ride in Animal Kingdom.  As I write this, we are but weeks away from returning to the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, and I am giddy just thinking about it.

crappy quality photo-of-a-photo, but you get the idea.

February brought our return home to cold, yucky winter in New England.  Josh and I rooted against each other for the Superbowl.  He won, thanks to his boy Ray Lewis refusing to go out as anything but a champion.  I got Josh stupid things like cereal, Doritos, and Excedrin for Valentine's Day, and strung them all together on a giant path of yarn that I weaved throughout the house.  I wrote cheesy notes for each one, and he laughed the whole time.  It was the warmest and fuzziest I have ever felt on my least favorite fake holiday.

March brought my birthday and what a week it was.  I worked a double on my actual birthday, because it fell on a Friday and I couldn't afford not to.  I'm so glad I did, too.  I wore a giant "birthday girl" button all day until my dear friend Sarah and her husband came in to work to see me and she brought me a tiara.  I made great tips all day, and some of my regulars came in to surprise me with carrot cake (my favorite!) and a very embarrassing birthday song with the entire staff.  For my real celebration, I finally got to check Formal Mini Golf off of my bucket list.  It was the perfect evening, ending with dinner at Ichigo Ichie, where I innocently ordered a Pearl Harbor as we waited to be sat.  Yeah, I'll never live that down.

Sarah took a break from trying the entire new drink menu to pose with me.

Easter fell at the end of March this year, and it kicked off Josh's annual Hank Hill level of obsession with the lawn.  We raked and picked up copious amounts of dog poo to prepare for the Easter bunny and Abby's egg hunt.  Since Josh is really just a giant child, I sent him on a hunt of his own...for new work shoes that I hid in the trees.  Inside the box they had come in was a note from the wascaly wabbit and of course, some treats.


April is Josh's birthday month, and I usually make him some pretty fun stuff.  This year was no exception; for dinner we had both veal and eggplant parmesan with pasta, salad, and homemade garlic bread.  I had made him a malted milk ball cake and malt frosting from scratch, but was running out of time to do everything, so I called upon my fairy godfroster, Henry.  Not only did he make a gorgeous cake, he helped make garlic bread, and he even stepped up and breaded the veal so I could get right to pan-frying it.  Raw veal is f*ing disgusting.  The whole family was very impressed with the meal and I have to say, for someone who doesn't cook, I was pretty damn proud of myself.

So yummy!!

April was also when Odie began his weekly beach trips (no swimming yet) and subsequently his weekly Del's visits.  It's really too bad he doesn't like the stuff, because it'd be cute if he knew exactly what a Del's building looks like and started squealing every time we pulled into the parking lot.  Oh, wait...he's obsessed.  Haha.

If only I had thumbs to hold my own cup.  Thanks, Grammy!

May wasn't very eventful; I worked ridiculous hours and picked up a lot of shifts because it was the final stretch of time before my vacation with Mom.  Sometime in the spring I had started riding again; it may have actually been in March but I just thought to write it now.  I tried two different barns and was terribly unimpressed with one, just a little disappointed with the other.  I decided not to call barn #2 when I got back from my trip, I was still holding out for the barn that was just right.  At least I had gotten back on a horse, I thought to myself.  That's a step in the right direction.

The first two weeks of June were spent driving cross country with my mother, the best travel companion anyone could ask for.  We went to so many places, saw so many things...I could write thirty blog posts about that trip alone.  Suffice it to say it was one of the best experiences of my life.  We planned a bit more for this trip than we had for the last one, and it paid off.  However, there were so many things we did not have time for because we had to stick to our schedule, so now we need to go back!  We mostly camped, with a few strategically placed nights in hotels, and even spent a few nights in the car when it was supposed to pour and we didn't want to have to pack a soggy tent.  Oh, and one night we slept in a covered wagon at the Laura Ingalls homestead!  We win, forever.

In the dining room awaiting a hearty dinner of a Havarti, mustard, and pickle sandwich.

July began with me deciding to get back into shape, and purchasing a 10 minute trainer dvd from an infomercial at 6am, much to Josh's chagrin.  I ended up loving the thing, and did it for a few months until it got boring and I got back into riding regularly.  I also did a 5K at Gillette Stadium called Finish At the 50, where we got to do just that.  It was a family affair, with Abby doing the kids' race in the morning, and Val, Michael, Joan coming to watch.  Mom and Ron met us there in the afternoon and we walked as Val ran the 5K.  It was a great day, and I stopped at Bar Louie afterwards with the 'rents for a well-deserved beer. 

Me and Miss Abigail after her race.

Sweaty family photo

I spent more time on the field this year than Aaron Hernandez

July also brought HOT weather and dogs who couldn't decide if they'd rather have sweat glands or thumbs.  I'm thinking they settled on the latter, because we kept this sweet kiddie pool up for them all summer long.  Hot dogs?  No, we had cool dogs!

Jake, Odie, and Lucy cooling off

At the end of July we all did another 5K called Color Me Rad.  It was our second time running (well, run/walking) and almost as fun as last year, though it seemed to have fewer color stations this time around.

Me, Val, Josh, Mom, and of course Abby stealing the show.

Sometime in July Odie and I had discovered the beach at Goddard Park, and it became his new favorite place.  In August, for my mom's birthday, she came with me and Josh to take Monsieur Odysseus swimming.  I had taken Mom and Ron out to breakfast that morning, then Mom and I went to get manicures and pedicures.  The process itself was great, but I couldn't wait to get home and bust out the nail polish remover for my fingers.  Even though it was just a clear coat, I can't handle anything on my nails, it freaks me out.  We had such a great day, and she thought that was her gift.  Little did she know the best was yet to come...

Birthday kisses for Grammy

I love this photo Josh took

August 21 and 22 I surprised Mom with a trip to Block Island.  Cyndi and Rich met Josh and me at our house early in the morning, and Ron took Mom for an early day to the beach.  Fortunately he did not specify which beach, and when the four of us pulled up beside their car at the ferry, her face was priceless.  It took her a little while to figure out that we were all going to the island, and even longer to realize it was overnight.  I had requested the next day off from work for her and asked them to put her on the schedule anyway so she would not suspect.  It was an epic surprise, and we had the best two days together.  Once we got back to West Warwick we had some desserts that I had made ahead of time, and then everyone headed home full of blueberry pie and great memories.

Even though our anniversary is in July, Josh and I celebrated it in September with a four day vacation to New Hampshire.  We drove the Kancamagus, hiked the Flume, and stayed in a beautiful resort on Lake Winnepesaukee that I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have been able to afford if we had gone up before Labor Day.  Our kayaks finally made it out of their boxes and onto the water (!!!!!!), we went on some driving adventures, had some great meals, and found a little coffeehouse that we wish was in our backyard.  It had been so long since we had had time for just the two of us, and it was amazing. 

He'd kill me if he knew I posted this, but I love it.

We had a beautiful day for sailing...er, paddling.

Later in September we went to both King Richard's Faire and the Big E.  Both were fantastic days, and we got to focus on what's really important: food.  Haha.  Josh got his annual turkey leg at KRF and he humored me and stood in line for potatoes at the Maine house, which he admitted was the best baked potato in the world (or maybe I said that).  We spent lots of time petting sheepies, and reminisced about meeting our sleepy sheepy friend last year.

Fittingly, he ate this while we watched a performance called "Vicious and Delicious."


By the end of September, I had taken a handful of lessons at yet ANOTHER barn, this one closer to the fit that I wanted but still not quite there.  I was offered a lease on a cute TB mare, but it was a little out of my price range, so out of curiosity I decided to see what else was out there.  Enter a fairly recent post regarding a TB mare for free lease in North Kingstown at...wait...is that Prudy's barn?  A few short days later, I was heading out to meet Lucy the horse and Kate, her owner.  Long story short, the timing could not have been more perfect for both of us to have found each other, and I have finally found a barn that feels like home.  Since then I have adopted a new family comprised of humans, equines, and canines, and I could not be more pleased with them.

Natalie, Brantley, Maddy, Kate, Me, Lucy

October and November are getting grouped together; the last couple months of the year have been a bit of a blur.  Stupid holiday season making time go by too quickly.  Josh was kind enough to let me decorate for Halloween before it was even technically October.  I spent the whole month dreaming of zombies, riding Lucy, and job hunting after I abruptly quit Chelos in the middle of the month.  I ended up starting my new job the second week of November, and then another new job shortly after that.  The two did overlap for a while, but I have since quit the first one and am pouring myself into the second one; it is a substantial pay cut for now, but it will be far more beneficial for me in the long run.  I am at the age now where I have to acknowledge being an adult (yuck) and start thinking about the future.  Anyway, I spent my weeks off exploring the trails with Maddy, spending lots of quality time with the pups, and just generally enjoying my freedom.  I also went to a corn maze with Mom, and we bought way too many pumpkins and gourds at the farm stand.  On November 2nd, Sarah and I did a 5K called Panic in the Dark; we did not actually run but instead were zombies haunting the course.  It was so fun, and the professional zombie makeover was incredible!  Even cooler was going to Applebee's after the race and freaking out just about all of the patrons, save for one runner who thanked us and told us how much fun she had.

Contrary to popular belief, some zombies are perfectly able-bodied and can run you down.

If you cannot yet tell, I am running out of steam here.  I have been at this post for too long, and I have to get my house ready for our Pajama Party.  December has been pretty well chronicled here as a clusterf*ck of stress, projects, baking, and Christmas.  I will say the holiday itself was great, as always, but I am happy it's over.  I am very fortunate to have had such a great year, and here's hoping 2014 will give me plenty more wonderful things to write about.  Cheers!

Friday, December 13, 2013


I can't believe how fast two weeks went by.  I am so not ready for Christmas, but it's flying at me like a B-52 bomber.  The shopping part is 90% done, save for a few difficult people, but then there's the wrapping, baking, decorating...I just can't wait for it to be over.  I get wayyyy too stressed this time of year, and it doesn't help that I feel extra broke due to the slow process of getting my finances back in order.  To top all of this off, my house is currently the project capital of the world.  We have a bathroom renovation, garage cleanout, and basement organization mission all happening simultaneously.  It's great in the fact that I LOVE decluttering, but it's overwhelming to be doing it all at once.  The final straw was putting all of this on hold because Josh got a steam cleaner for the carpets and has been happily working his way through the house with the new toy.  I wish we could just FINISH something before starting something else.

Needless to say, I have had very little opportunity to fire up the ol' laptop and write, so I will try to keep the clickety-clacking of the keys to a minimum.  See also: Here is a concise summary of what happened since last time.

The weekend after Thanksgiving I rode Lucy in a schooling show, and it was such a great day.  She was so well behaved, and we FAR surpassed the meager goals I had set for the day (don't get excused from the ring, and don't fall off).  My mom came along as a groom/horse show mom extraordinaire, which made my day.  She was so happy to be there, taking pictures, wiping boots, pumping Lucy full of baby carrots, and subsequently wiping the orange foam off of her face.  Maddy rode Brantley, and overall they had a good day.  He had a couple of moments in the indoor, but she handled it beautifully (as always) and they ended on a good note, taking long stirrup by storm in Western tack.

The following week was a blur of early training shifts at the café, which opened this past Monday, and late shifts at the restaurant.  Thursday was my first (and last, I may now add) bar training shift and it was horrific.  I will not get into details, but suffice it to say I have no interest in pursuing that avenue any further.  On Saturday I was offered a significant promotion by the café, which oddly enough would also mean taking a pay cut.  Maddy pointed out that it's like paying for the title, which is just not that important to me.  I am still negotiating an agreement that works for everyone.

I did not ride at all last week, but I did get to the barn twice to do ground work, lunging, and grooming.  I finally got back in the saddle today, after literally not leaving my house yesterday so that I could catch up on my to do list of cleaning, sorting, and various other mundane tasks. 

This afternoon, I had a couple of errands to run and was too lazy to change out of my breeches and boots.  A decade ago I would have gotten some strange looks for my attire, but nowadays it seems every third woman has leggings and tall boots on.  Maybe the smell wafting off of my jacket hinted at the authenticity of the outfit; that I am actually an equestrian and not just fond of the style icon we riders have become.  It ticks me off to see these people trivializing our sport.  They spend hundreds of dollars on these fancy boots simply because they are "totes adorbs"...

...sorry, I had to go throw up...

...and here I am praying my Bromonts last one more winter because I can't afford another pair right now.  Please, yuppie women, come clean stalls, trudge through mud and manure, stand out in the cold on a concrete floor all day, and try actually riding in your "equestrian inspired" wardrobe.  When you're done, dry your eyes with your (gasp!) dirty hands and buy me a pair of Ariat Bromonts, sz 9.5, med height, full calf.  Sincerely, the asshole who is silently judging all of you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day of family, football, and food comas, I thought I would procrastinate housework by posting about totally irrelevant things. 

I think it's bullshit that stores are open today.  I remember being a kid and not even being able to stop at Dunkin on the way to my grandparents' house because holidays were actually honored.  Now, you can go get a coffee on the way to shop until you drop, followed by a meal in a restaurant where people have been pulled away from their families for less than $3 an hour.  Granted, some employees heading in today would rather be there than at home, but please, if you go out, be super extra nice to people, maybe overtip a little, and be thankful for your day off. 

Our Thanksgiving festivities will be at Josh's aunt's house, where there are three dogs that rival the cuteness of our own; one who gives (almost) too many licks, one who is equally graceful and adorable as he jumps from lap to lap for affection, and one who is a little bastard that will lay across the room from you, growling and crying until you come rub his belly.  It's like home away from home, and I can't wait to go.

Josh just made the biggest sacrifice of his week and changed the channel from ESPN to NBC for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  That's how you know a man loves you; he will endure lip syncers "butchering a perfectly good song" because he knows it makes you happy.  I have been watching this parade most of my life and even though it's super cheesy, it's tradition.

I had a great time at the barn last night, Lucy definitely keeps me on my toes but I am getting a pretty good feel of her and both times she acted up I knew it was coming.  That's the beauty of Thoroughbreds, they can be a handful but more often than not their back gives them away.  Maddy and I had a successful tack cleaning party in the pub, I think we are as ready as we will be for the show Sunday.  Horse friends for the win, by the way.  They are the best.

Okay, I am falling victim to the death glares coming from the can of Pledge and the vacuum.  I must go make my inhabitance inhabitable.  I hope everyone enjoys their turkey, tofurkey, turducken, steak, or whatever the hell you eat today.  I will be eating my weight in stuffing.  And cranberry sauce, cornbread, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes.  And stuffing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hot Mess in a Sundress

Today's blog is brought to you by the Maltipoo on my shoulder and the Puggle snoring contentedly next to me on the couch.  We have not quite achieved puppy palooza, as the Maltese is enjoying his nap downstairs, but I'll take what I can get. 
Furthermore, I am feeling a bit better today and am savoring my first coffee in almost a week.  What a bad time to have a cold.  There is too much going on right now for my days to be a blur of Zicam, Dayquil, tea with honey, and tissues.  Boxes and boxes of tissues.

As I mentioned in my last post, I now have two jobs.  Monday was orientation for the café, which went pretty well.  I won't lie, I was a bit frightened by some of the other people there, but I am trying so hard not to judge books by their covers.  I just kept my mouth shut and reminded myself that it takes all kinds of kinds.  Thanks, Miranda Lambert.  The training runs Monday through Saturday, then we open the following Monday (Dec 9th).  Since attendance is mandatory, I requested mornings off at the restaurant for next week, which wouldn't be a big deal except...

Yesterday during lunch our GM flipped out because the day bartender was causing a lot of people to leave unhappy.  He came flying into the kitchen, where I was rolling silverware, and points to me. 
"You've been a bartender, right?"
"Good.  Start learning the drink recipes, your bar training starts next week."
"Sweet!"  (Fist pump, look of disbelief, shit-eating grin.)
Needless to say, I am pumped.  Being a bartender at this restaurant is a coveted position, and I'm absolutely positive I will piss people off by becoming one so suddenly in my tenure there.  Fortunately, I am there to make money, not friends, and I don't care.

Did anyone else notice that now next week has two major training schedules?  I did.  I am having a sit-down with the restaurant GM today about my bar training, and I will let him know of my café training so hopefully I can work the two around each other.  What a conundrum to have, and how fortunate I am to call it mine.

In other news, I AM RIDING IN A HORSE SHOW THIS WEEKEND.  It has been probably five years since I have done so, and I can't even get over how excited I am.  I will be riding this afternoon and then having a tack cleaning party tonight with some barn friends.  I feel like a little kid again, except I do not have to use an entire bottle of Quik Silver on a schoolie's legs only to find them yellow again the next morning.  (Instead now I ride a horse who likes to get manure stuck behind her ears and then laugh at you as you try to reach them).

My house is an absolute disaster at the moment, though I did manage to do two loads of laundry yesterday.  I desperately need to dust and vacuum, but I keep finding other little projects to do.  I can't wait until I can fall back into a routine; change is great, but I feel like I am so all over the place right now.  That said, I am going to gather myself together and get ready for work.  I will leave you with items 24 through 28 (may as well get a day ahead) on my November list:

24. Patience (both the GnR song and the virtue)
25. Coffee
26. "You can't remove fear, it's what you do with it." - Leroy Jethro Gibbs
27. Time management skills
28.  Perspective

Sometimes we get to meet our heroes

Sometimes we even dress a bit like them

Never turn down a dance with a bear

Even if he looks like Poo(h)

Piglet is such a ham

Friday, November 22, 2013

Back to making cents, but still not making sense.

In comparison with my rather laid back three weeks off, the past ten days have been crazy.  Hence the dearth of blog posts.  I started my new job on 11/12/13, which is fun in and of itself.  I really like it there and I think it's going to be a lucrative endeavor.  That said, I do not necessarily want to wait tables or tend bar my whole life, so when the opportunity arose to interview with a café that is opening nearby, I jumped on it.  I got the job, and will be starting in a entry-level position, but the GM thinks I will be able to advance to a supervisor rather quickly.  I am excited about the operating hours, the working conditions, the lack of alcohol (and therefore the lack of drunken assholes), and the predetermined pay rate.  I really hope it works out, but for now I am going to work part time at both places to be sure I am making the correct decision for myself.  I could totally use two incomes, anyway; I have some catching up to do in the cash flow department.

I missed a whole week of barn time due to an aggressive training schedule at the restaurant.  They wanted to cram my orientation plus eight training shifts into one week so that I could be on the floor as soon as possible.  I'm glad they did it that way, but I missed my barn friends and the ponies!  I did get to ride two days this week, one of which was a much needed trail ride.  I am SO fortunate to first of all have such a great horse to ride, and secondly have such an expansive network of trails literally in the backyard of her barn.  This situation could not have come at a better time (I swear, all things happen for a reason), and has been responsible for maintaining my sanity and happiness throughout an otherwise tumultuous couple of months.  To Kate and Maddy, since I know you read this, thank you so much for being your awesome selves.

As for that 30 Days of Thanks undertaking, at which I have been succeeding in failure (now there's optimism for ya!), I am resorting to a simple list.  I have fallen so far behind and I think it's partially because I feel compelled to elaborate on every item.  Since I am on a double tomorrow and don't forsee a post, here is the 15th through the 23rd by numbers (but in no particular order):

15. Brainstorming
16. A tidy house
17. Inspiration
18. Change (not the monetary kind, although that works, too)
19. A good plan, and the ability to throw it out the window
20. Comfortable shoes
21. Hot showers
22. Amazon (best holiday shopping site, ever)
23. eBay (because I am cheap and refuse to pay full price for anything)

Lastly, because I enjoy being random, here are some pictures that have nothing to do with this post.

Me and Sarah eating brain pizza at Panic in the Dark

This is why you should always pick your horse's feet.

Amazing picture Josh took of the stunt show at Disney 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

This is Odie's World, I Just Live in It

Today has already been hectic.  I was up at 7, as per usual to feed my fuzzy alarm clock, but we also had a guy coming to look at the upstairs bathroom, where we are replacing the tub.  He gave me instructions on what to demolish, how, and in what order.  I took notes (actually, I drew a picture) for Josh, who was already at work.  So happy to be getting on with that project, as it's been stagnant for a while and we are anxious to finally finish our bathroom.

I had to bring Odysseus to the vet at 8:20 because he had a rash that he licked and chewed into a hotspot.  Poor thing, he's been obsessed with it.  He spent most of Thursday in a polo wrap so that he couldn't get to the area, then yesterday I found an old ace bandage, which he quickly learned how to unravel.  So, $93 later, he has two medications for which I had to make a handy dosing chart to hang on the fridge; it will be a family effort depending on who is home at the time.  I also talked to the vet about switching him to a grain-free food because he's so itchy all the time.  He has all pink skin and it's SO damn sensitive!  The vet tech recommended Rachel Ray Nutrish Zero Grain, so we will try that.  It's one of the more reasonably priced brands, and she does a lot for the welfare of animals, so I am happy to support it.

Thinking I had to work at 10:45, I got ready and for some reason decided to check my schedule to see if next week's had been posted yet.  It hasn't, but I realized I am not in until 11:30.  Thank God I didn't go in extra early, I have a long enough day as it is.  Today is my third training shift, they keep putting me on doubles that only count as one shift.  Yesterday 10:45 - 9, today 11:30 - 9.  But, I will not argue because the more I know, the better I will be once I am on my own.

Off I go to kiss my little puppalup goodbye for the day and ask him kindly not to eat things that don't belong to him (shoes, Kleenex, electrical cords).  Hopefully I will do my 30 days post later; if not, tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Make Like a Tomato and Ketchup!

Welcome to rapid-fire Thursday, where I get tired of playing catch up and tell you six things that I am thankful for.  I am starting to want to write about real things, but I feel tied to this November commitment, so I today I will make gratitude my bitch.

I am thankful for manual labor.  Horses require copious amounts of it, obviously, but I've also always had jobs that allow me to stay active.  I would go absolutely stir crazy working at a desk, and as I discovered by tons of computer training at my new job, my back hurts after a long day in a chair.  Manual labor is a great way to stay in shape, and can be greatly rewarding when you see what you've accomplished.

I am thankful for sports.  For years I have loved to watch New England's teams and cheer them on, but I was an adult before I really understood how any of them worked.  My boyfriend is a sports fanatic, and he has very patiently answered my questions over the years so that I may better understand what's going on.  He even gave me an appreciation for golf, which I had previously equated to watching paint dry.  It is especially convenient in the restaurant industry to have a good knowledge of sports, because it's a great conversation piece.

I am thankful for my cell phone.  I am old enough to remember the days of land lines and pay phones, and not having the world at your fingertips.  For every time I curse technology, I also thank God for it.  I can think of so many instances where I would have been lost (literally, figuratively, and sometimes both) without my smartphone.

I am thankful for my friends.  I am not one who has a large group of them, and it's on purpose.  I am rather picky about who I hang out with, because I do not want to waste my time on someone who would not do the same for me.  I pride myself in being a good friend, and in my opinion it is next to impossible to be a good, true friend to more than a handful of people at any given time.
Years ago, a friend of mine called me late at night because his truck had broken down on the southern end of the NJ turnpike.  He was hoping I was in the area; no one else was available to help him out.  I drove down from Taunton, MA, to pick him up and then brought him to Springfield, MA so he could spend the weekend with his girlfriend.  Crazy?  Yup.  Did I think twice?  No.

That story reminds me, I am thankful for my desire to travel.  I have seen so many amazing places in North America, and I have met so many great people; I don't regret a moment of time that I have spent on the road.  One of these days I will get to Europe and Australia, too, but I am going to have to save my pennies.

Which brings me to my, um, we'll call it thriftiness.  Honestly I don't know quite how I developed my budgeting skills, but I am so proud to have built myself up from being totally flat broke to having a respectable savings account, zero debt, and enough left over to take a couple of vacations each year.  I quit my job on the spot in October, because I was miserable there and I knew I would not aggressively seek a new, better job unless I HAD to.  I am newly employed at a much (much much much) better place, I am happier, and I did not need to dip into my savings account to survive almost four weeks out of work.

I apologize for a photo-less entry, but I am all done sitting at this computer.  My mosquito-sized attention span expired long ago.  It's time for family dinner and homemade pizza!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sounds and sights.

Another day, another day behind.  So today I will be thankful for three things.  It's just as well; when I was younger I used to keep a diary and every day I wrote down five things I was grateful for.  Sometimes I'd get super trivial, like "I am grateful for mustard."  But think about it, a giant soft pretzel without mustard?  Boring.  It makes you think about how much we take for granted on a daily basis and much there really is to appreciate.

Music has always been a part of my life.  When I was a child I was, of course, subjected to whatever music my mom and older sisters listened to.  There are videos somewhere of me singing "Make Me Lose Control" by Eric Carmen and "Sign Your Name" by Terence Trent D'arby.  Then there was Warrant.  At 5 years old, I had a crush on Jani Lane and would almost constantly be listening to my "Heaven" single.  I went through a country phase, then as I got older I fell victim to the radio, which I mildly regret.  At 18, I discovered emo, alternative, and indie rock.  My Chemical Romance got me through one of the toughest times of my life, and what's incredible is the amount of people who feel the same way.  This was my first interaction with "the scene," and I began meeting some great people at the shows I was going to.  From here I could get way off track, tell stories about Monty and Something to Fight For, but suffice it to say I had some pretty amazing times that never would have been possible if I had not immersed myself in music.

Strangely, I did not start playing an instrument until a couple years later, when I taught myself guitar, piano, and enough bass to struggle through a few songs.  Nothing I ever played was terribly good, but I enjoyed it and I don't think I have ever felt more creative than when I was sitting at a piano.  I miss that.


I have always had an appreciation for photography.  I used to tear through rolls of film and those disposable cameras that kids nowadays wouldn't even know existed.  I would take pictures of anything and everything, without thinking about the lighting, background, or really much at all for that matter.  When I was a teenager I got my first digital camera (a Sony FD Mavica) that I would bring everywhere with me.  I took a LOT of pictures of horses, and eventually became the horse show photographer at the barn where I rode.  Aside from the fact that I've never owned a very nice camera (some of those DSLRs frighten me), I would like to think that I've gotten pretty good at freezing tiny little moments in time.  Or at least I love it enough to keep trying. 

Another one of my loves is the written word.  As one who is not always well-spoken, it's comforting to know I can put words on paper and make them make sense.  I lean towards poetry and memoirs, but I keep saying one of these days I might venture into fiction.  Seeing as how I don't have a picture to represent my love of writing, perhaps you would like a giraffe.

Not good enough?  Here's a picture of me violating Walt Disney.  Enjoy.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


It may have been a little ambitious of me to jump right back into writing.  I'm hoping that by making this a public attempt, it will be a successful one.  That said, here are two more things that I'm thankful for, which will leave me a measley five days behind.  Pshh.  I've got this.
I am beyond thankful for horses; I would not be where I am or who I am without them.  They have taught me so much about patience, determination, and work ethic.  I could go on and on about how these animals have been responsible for some of the best times of my life, but for the sake of brevity, I will simply say this: if you are a horse person, you get it, and if you are not, you never will.
A once in a lifetime pony.

Let's just pretend that rail is still in the cup.
Coming in at number 5 on my list of thanks is my car.  Really, all of my cars except that awful Plymouth Neon (totally NOT the same as a Dodge), but even he was good for some ridiculous stories.  Currently I drive a 2006 Kia Spectra, my first car not to be covered in stickers or retain a name.  I had Nellie (Dodge Neon), Helena (Saturn SL2), Dallas (Plymouth Neon), and Webster (Ford Taurus wagon), but I could never find the perfect moniker for this little girl.  My car has driven me through snow that some trucks would balk at; she has toted grain bags, shavings bags, hay bales, and tack trunks; and most importantly, she has taken me and my mom cross country twice.  I guess you could say that we rode through the desert in a car with no name.

Me and my little beast in Yellowstone National Park

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is it really November already?

It's been a while since I've written anything.  I've always had road journals, blogs, diaries, poems...hell, I could tell a story through my photo collection alone.  Somehow I've gotten away from it, which is too bad.  I figured jumping on the 30 Days of Thanks bandwagon for November was as good a reason as any to organize my thoughts and start documenting my life again.  Obviously I'm a few days behind the ball, which should surprise no one, so I'll play catch up in the first couple of posts.

It is rather convenient that I have to cover a few days at once here, because I could not live without the first three things on my list: my mom, my dog, and my boyfriend. 

My mom is absolutely my best friend, and my favorite travel companion.  She has always supported me in whatever I do, and she sacrificed so much when I was growing up to make sure that I never went without.  She taught me how to work hard and earn the things I wanted, so that I would appreciate them infinitely more.  I am happy to say that as an adult I am finally able to give back to her in some way, whether it be planning a major cross country road trip, a surprise birthday celebration, or just a girls' day out.  I know we have a million more memories in store for us, but hopefully no more close calls with the boys in blue.  Did you know it's a federal offense to write your initals on the St. Louis Arch?  We do now.  And she'll NEVER let me live that down.

Me & Mom at Theodore Roosevelt Park in North Dakota

My dog.  My fuzzy little Odysseus. 
Two years ago when I had to give up my Thoroughbred, my heart was shattered.  I felt like I had just given a family member away, and it was devastating to fall short on the promise of a forever home.  I know I did the right thing, he needed to be retired and I could not afford to keep him, but that didn't make it any easier.  I quit riding and stayed away from horses for quite some time; I kept myself busy and tried not to think about it.  I could have never guessed my saving grace would be a little cottonball with a penchant for shitting under tables.
Josh and I had been looking to adopt a puppy, and we found ours in June 2012.  He is the best thing that has happened to us, and the worst thing to happen to our shoes.  He is such a mama's boy, which is fine by me.  I once again feel the unconditional love and loyalty that only an animal can give, and I take every opportunity to bond with and spoil him so that he knows the feeling is mutual.  He may even edge out horses in that he fits in my sedan, and he sleeps in bed with us.  Tucked in and on his own pillow, I may add.  :)

Odie at "his" beach last fall

Last for today, but certainly not least, is Josh.  He has made the last four years of my life unforgettable, and I love him with all of my heart.  I think the most prominent effect he has had on my life is helping me realize not everything is a big deal all the time.  For someone who can make an entire mountain range out of an ant hill, that is priceless.  He is silly and childish, yet wise beyond his years.  There's no one quite like him, and I'm so lucky to call him mine.  You know you've found a keeper when the first thing he says to you is, "What do you mean you're a vegetarian?  What the hell is wrong with you?"  Guys, try that as a pick up line sometime.  See what happens.

Me & Josh at my first Sox/Yankees game