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.