Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cooking Club

Many years ago before I married Brett, my friend Sandie and I found ourselves divorced.  We created our own support group with two members -- just us.  We called it the Cooking Club and that's what we did.  Cook.  We took turns hosting and it was the hostess' responsibility to create the menu and buy the ingredients.  There were rules.  We had to be cooking something that was new to us and we had to have three courses.  Appetizers were usually fruit, cheese and wine while we cooked.  But the main course and dessert were challenging.  Bon Appetit was our primary source of recipes.  We both learned a lot and, more importantly, we had a good time.

We have both been happily re-married for fifteen years (Sandie) and fourteen years (Brett and I).  We moved to Aspen Meadows, Sandie moved to Pasadena and it became logistically impossible to continue.  Sandie still lives in Pasadena and now we are a plane ride away.  Tuesday, she was in Sacramento for a meeting and then spent the night here at Oak Creek Ranch with us.

And we had a meeting of our Cooking Club.

We started with a glass of wine on the front porch, looking for deer and watching the dogs in their never ending quest for squirrels.

Sandie was in charge of the main course: steak salad with parsley, mustard greens,

homemade rye bread croutons,


and a yummy vinaigrette.

I made dessert.  Rhubarb pie.  Okay, that was cheating since I make it a lot.  But I've had a craving for rhubarb pie that wouldn't stop so we bent the rules.

Yes, Lori, I used my Skoog Farm rhubarb.

Brett poured the wine and cleaned up the kitchen afterwards.  There's nothing better than eating good food with great friends.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Hoe House

Brett and I spent this weekend working on my garden.

We found a shed for my garden tools at the nursery.

The garden is starting to look and feel like garden instead of a weed patch.  I hung a sign I used to have in my greenhouse at Aspen Meadows on the door of the shed.  I had to keep it -- Camille modified it when she was small.

Brett put PVC pipes to my garden beds and all the fruit trees.  He installed valves and will hook them up to an automatic timer.  I worked on drip lines in all the beds.

We had dinner with friends last night and the salad was made with mache from her garden (and a passion fruit vinaigrette).  Outstanding.  Of course, I had to pick up some mache at the nursery this morning.

I also planted some thyme, a jalapeno pepper and an artichoke.

My rhubarb is going nuts.  I need to make a pie.

The herb bed is going gangbusters.

My mom's garden is starting to come together.  I'm planing sweet alyssum around the lilies as they emerge from the ground.

Even the roses that border the front of the garden are starting to bloom.  This weekend definitely felt like spring despite the cold and rain.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


The rain stopped during the night and today we had cloudy skies with brief moments of sun.  More rain is coming tonight but not as heavy, not as cold.  The pastures had all drained nicely so we put the horses back out to stretch their legs.

And stretch their legs they did....

Jackson showed of his dance moves.

Flash demonstrated his rodeo buck.

They both rolled.

Pistol was well behaved walking out to her pasture but I could tell it was an effort for her.  She was dancy prancy next to me and when I took off her halter she trotted off as fast as her short legs could carry her.

Meanwhile, Brett managed to get Mufasa into the pasture -- which wasn't easy.  Flash and Jackson continued to cavort around and Mufasa was pulling for all he was worth.

After the horses finished running around, they congregated in the corner... gazing off at Pistol.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Random Five Friday

1. We have a late winter storm moving across the Sacramento Valley, the Mother Lode (us) and the Sierras. So, far we have received over an inch of rain and it isn't over yet. The storm is wet and cold; snow above us, thunder and hail in our neck of the woods. Sandy and I decided it was not the best conditions for me to be riding Lucy. We will reschedule my lesson on her after the storm passes.

2. Winston is officially for sale. Here's the link to his ad.

3. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to any new followers; including Skyline Spirit who left a nice comment the other day. It used to be easy to keep track of new followers through Blogger but now I have followers from Blogger in addition to Google and Facebook. I don't know when you all start following so forgive me for not thanking you individually. I do want to thank you all for following the ups and downs of our little ranch.

4. Pistol has settled in well. Flash stands at the edge of the creek running next to the clover pasture fence and stares longingly at her across the driveway. Pistol mostly eats and ignores him, but once in awhile she throws out a girly squeal. The horses are all in the barn today due to the storm. Pistol is on the end with Mufasa next door. He is loving being able to touch noses with her; Flash doesn't allow Mufasa or Jackson to look at her normally, much less touch noses.

5. Brett had to get a new ride-on mower this week. The one we brought up from Aspen Meadows has been slowly falling apart. Its twelve years old and didn't receive the best of care. It was a victim of being a learning experience. The new mower is parked in the barn (I think Brett even covered it with a blankie) and it will have the gas tank drained when not in use. Brett's learned a lot about how to take care of ranch equipment since we first started out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Great Goat Escape

Tuesday afternoon, Little Bear and Whiskey made their great escape.  Brett isn't sure exactly how they managed it, but he looked out the window and there they were in the pasture with Flash, Mufasa and Jackson.

Brett knew he'd be able to take Bear back to the pen with no trouble.  Bear loves Brett.

But Whiskey is another story.  He's a shy little goat and if he thinks he is going to be caught, he takes off.

Brett called our neighbor Cindy and she brought Vanessa over after picking her up from school.  Whiskey loves Vanessa.  It's mutual.  As expected, Whiskey went right over to Vanessa and Brett was able to pick him up and carry him back to the goat pen.

Fortunately, I had taken a bunch of pictures of the goats while Buffy was here last weekend.  We spent quite a bit of time in the goat pen with that day.

Jackson came over to join the party.

Little Bear chewed on Buffy's clothes, Thistle rubbed his head on the soles of our shoes, and Whiskey and Cowboy went back and forth looking for treats.

The goats were in heaven.

After Brett and Vanessa returned Little Bear and Whiskey to the safety of the pen, they worked on reinforcing the fencing.  Brett isn't sure where they pushed through or crawled under.  He suspects it was possibly behind the wild blackberry bushes so they reinforced the fence there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Meet Lucy

This morning before work I took a lesson on Lucy.  She's a 12 year old Dutch Warmblood.

Meet Lucy.

Lucy is very kind, very sweet, very honest.  She is also very sensitive (no whip required) but not reactive. If she feels insecure, she rushes.  But she also stops if you ask her to halt.

Her walk and trot are dreamy.  Smooth, cadenced and forward.

She glides across the arena in leg yield.

And she rushes at canter.  A lot.  The first time, my brain went "Oh, sh*t!"  But I asked her to transition down to trot and she did.  She settled and we tried again.

Her transitions are smooth and effortless.

If I sit deep, think about a slower cadence in my mind, and soften my elbows while half-halting, she does relax.  A bit.  I think we could get there.

I'm taking another lesson on Friday.  Stay tuned.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Whole Lot of Squealing Going On

Brett let Flash, Jackson and Mufasa out of their pasture to roam around the ranch this morning.  The boys made a bee-line for Pistol's pasture.  They did some grazing, but mostly the boys arched their necks over her fence while Pistol squealed.  She's a flirt, that Pistol.

Flash, You're a gelding.  Put that thing away.  Brett said it was out all day.  Poor Flash.

When I got home from work I jumped on Pistol bareback and Brett jumped on Mufasa.  We rode for 20 minutes or so; just long enough.  Pistol is out of shape; Buffy hasn't had time to ride her since, oh, September I think she said.  Pistol was huffing and puffing after just a few laps at trot.  It was fun though.  There's nothing like riding bareback to help with balance.  I sat up tall and balanced with my core and not by gripping with my legs.

For those of you who asked about Pistol; in a nutshell - we are taking care of her for a few months while her owner (and our friend) Buffy travels and settles into her new home.  There's a lot going on in Buffy's life right now and not much time -- or riding space -- for Pistol.

After riding, I unpacked a package from my friend Terri in Virginia.  She and her husband have a wonderful B&B there.  Brett and I spent our honeymoon there.  It was perfect; beautiful, historic, wonderful food -- and a great friend.

Chocolate is love, right?

I opened the box and saw so much love, I got dizzy.

I ate a brownie before dinner and another afterwards.  Yum!

Thanks, Terri!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Quiet Easter at the Ranch

When we lived in Southern California, Aspen Meadows was full of people, food and laughter on Easter.  Brett's sister and her family, with their spouses, all came up for Easter dinner.  Some years my parents were also with us and the kids joined us on alternating years.  This year was quiet.  We are too far away from Brett's family for them to drive up for dinner.  It's not my turn to have the kids or my dad so it was just Brett and I.  We had a wonderful, quiet Easter.

In the morning, we introduced Pistol to the Oak Pasture.  She spent an hour grazing -- which is a bit of work since the grass is very sparse in that pasture.  We put her back in the barn while we were gone at church and lunch and then turned her back out this evening when we got home.  She had very happy feet while we walked from the barn to the pasture.

  After church, we had a lovely leisurely lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Taste, in Plymouth.  From there we went to the barn and said hi to Winston.  I introduced Brett to Lucy.  She's a very sweet mare, with a nice soft eye.  I'm taking a lesson on her Tuesday so we'll see how we get along in the saddle.

Thank you for the supportive comments regarding Winston.  He is not a mean horse or a bad horse.  As a few of you pointed out, he is a young, spirited horse who needs a rider with energy and spunk.  He's friendly and fun; just a bit too much fun for me.  

Brett and I planned to relax when we got home but somehow that didn't happen.  I groomed Jackson and washed his mane and tail.  He was very embarrassed to have dirty hair with Pistol just across the driveway from him.  Now he looks appropriately dashing.

Brett was busy mowing the grass.

Happy Easter to all of you.  I hope you found moments of peace and happiness in your day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hey Boys

This afternoon our special guest arrived.

Buffy brought her horse, Pistol, to stay with us for a few months.  Pistol hopped off the trailer and sampled the grass.

The boys - Flash, Jackson and Mufasa - came galloping up to the pasture fence.  They pranced and arched their necks and acted like a bunch of young studs.

Pistol kept eating the grass.

Then she noticed Flash.  Buffy was our neighbor at Aspen Meadows before moving to Nevada.  Flash and Pistol were in mounted patrol together and competed in trail trials.  The three of us went on trail rides and rode on the beach; Jackson, Flash and Pistol.

Hey, Sweetheart, where have you been hiding?

Did you miss me big boy?

You're awfully good looking, but this grass.... well.... it's delicious. Excuse me while I dine.

Pistol settled in her stall and we had a lovely afternoon and evening with Buffy.  She and her empty trailer pulled out our driveway, headed back to Nevada, at 9:30 tonight.

Thanks Buffy.  Thanks for lending me your awesome Pistol.  We'll take good care of her; feed her, ride her, and love her.  Definitely love her.