Friday, 28 January 2011

Challenges For January - How Did I Do?

Well it's been a very busy month, and I have only just been able to complete as many of my challenges as possible for January, so how did I get on?

1. Finish reading 'Perfect Manners' by Kelly Marks: I have been so impressed with this book. We have an organisation in the UK called The British Horse Society, which is responsible for courses and exams you can take. Although I think they do fairly well on the riding front, they don't teach you any of the stuff this book covers, which is actually vital for your relationship with your horse. I wish I'd found this book years ago. It's got some very simple exercises in it that I'm using to transform Barnaby from being a bolshie so-and-so into a well mannered horse who is becoming a pleasure to be with. Sometimes, by the time I've fought to get him in, groom him and tack him up I'm too exhausted to ride! Using these methods has meant I can go for a ride and make it the pleasure it's supposed to be. I can't recommend it enough.

2. Do at least four chapters of the Bible Study on marriage: I've done two chapters. It's a fascinating book called Secrets - Transforming Your Life and Marriage by Kerry Clarensau. I guess anything that enhances your marriage is worth taking a look at. This book is really challenging me though. It even dares to suggest that I may be slightly selfish and self-centered. Who, me? How can that be? I'm lovely - everybody knows that! It talks about unconditional love, something we apply easily to our children, but don't necessarily apply to our husbands. It's a proper study, with sections for you to fill in, and I'm really enjoying it. Kerry Clarensau is American, and I love the way American's approach their relationship with God, much bolder than the average Brit, so refreshing. A very interesting book, I recommend this, too.

3. Make some Valentine cards, including one for Mr O: Well, I have definitely made some Valentine cards, look:

and I did, in fact, make a card for Mr O and said, "Let's do cards this year." Then I thought about it and reverted to what we really think, which is that we don't need one day a year to say 'I love you,' and that our anniversary is much more important to us than Valentine's Day, so we'll stick to celebrating that. Also, I took the card to the shop to sell...

4. Practise for dressage competition on Jan 30th: Well, that hasn't worked out, has it?! Thankyou to Jean and Cheyenne, I took both your comments on board. I do totally agree that dressage is good for a horse and promotes his health and well-being. I'm not talking about piaffe and passage here, just some basic movements would be nice, but for whatever reason, Barnaby seems very incapable and I have withdrawn from the competition. I'd still like to do some showing though, so the door isn't closed on this chapter just yet.
5. Do at least 1 map reading walk: I only completed this yesterday. It was going to be so simple, a 20 minute walk with 'Er Indoors on the footpath round the back of the riding school, past the old quarry and come out next to Lucy Goosie's house. So we set off in fine style down the road, onto the footpath and up round the quarry. We came out into a field surrounded by dry stone walls and I couldn't see a way out. I walked round and round (Tessa was thrilled at first, then gradually lost faith in me, 'Daddy doesn't do it like this!' written all over her face.) In the end I had to retrace my steps and follow a completey different path and came out through a gate onto the road. A farmer passed me and I thought, 'Now I'm in trouble,' but he just smiled and waved, so I carried on. I came out further up the lane, a field away from Lucy Goosie's house. So frustrating (yes I did have a map with me!) Tessa's paws were hot by then.
Next week I'm going to do it the other way round and try to work out where I went wrong. I was exhausted by the time I got back, having turned a 20 minute stroll into an hour's ordeal. This bodes well for TREC competitions, doesn't it? That will consist of me getting completely lost on a horse, what fun.

6. Make a birthday card for Seven: I did, and here it is:

Perfect for a boy of 8 I think. I love doing easel cards, and I was thrilled to find papers that went so well together (for free!) He really liked it, anyway.
So all in all, not too bad for my month's efforts. I wonder what February will bring? I was going to change it from challenges to 'Things to look forward to in February...' but I think I rather like stretching myself in this way.
Well I'm off to ride the boy in freezing cold temperatures, but gorgeous sunshine.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Mrs O.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Pay It Forward

I have seen a brilliant game over at the wonderful Shirley's blog (Nannieflash to you!) She got the idea from Dorcas' blog and it sounds so brilliant, I just had to join in.
This is how it works: I promise to send something handmade (in this case, a card) to the first five people who comment on this post. But there is a catch. You must post this, too, offering something handmade or homemade, to five other people to be sent during 2011. If you'd like to join in the fun, then be the first to post a comment, and something handmade especially for you, will be winging its way to you very soon. It doesn't matter where in the world you are, I'll post to anywhere. Isn't that cool? Let's see what we can do, come and join in.
I was very swift to put my name down on Shirley's blog, as she makes the most amazing cards. I just have to show you what came in the post yesterday.

This is a truly beautiful card. I recognise the LOTV image, which is so sweet, but it's the way she's done the flowers and leaves, which is truly outstanding.

She sent me this as an extra, as she saw the horse and thought of me. How utterly lovely. Thankyou so much for these, Shirley, I will treasure them.
So if you'd like something handmade by me, pop a comment on and I'll get cracking.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

I'm feeling much better after a fairly quiet weekend. I must tell you, though, that Mr O's grasp of what a lay-in means is baffling. He wakes up at 6.50am and immediately starts talking to me. This goes on until 7.30, when he declares that I've had a lay-in and now it's time to get up! I really don't understand it. If anyone asks me what I'd like for my birthday, I'll say, 'A lay-in.'
I have to confess that 'Er Indoors has been coming up to bed with us since before Christmas, as it was far too cold in the kitchen when it was snowing, to let her sleep down there on her own. She doesn't sleep on the bed, she sleeps on the floor at my side. This is fine unless she wakes up in the middle of the night and insists that I stroke her. I just put my arm out of the bed and leave her to get on with it.
The only thing is that she sleeps between me and the bathroom door. This means if I need to use said room in the middle of the night, I have to put my feet out of bed and try to find her with my toes, so I don't tread on her. Last night I made it safely to the door, when she decided to lick me on the back of the leg. I jumped several feet and nearly crashed into the basin. Well done, dear.
Then I come back and do a sort of karate roll to get back into bed without treading on her again. Sometimes my lack of stealth wakes Mr O up and he asks what on earth I'm doing. By the time I've finished explaining he's usually fallen back to sleep.
I have lunged Barnaby on Friday and rode him yesterday and today, but I have come to an important conclusion. Basically, for some reason I don't quite understand, Barnaby can't do dressage. To be fair, Mr O did tell me this when I took him on, but I decided to find out for myself. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I even got an instructor in to school him, and even she didn't really make any difference. I don't know how to explain why he can't do it, because sometimes he even comes on the bit, but he walks or trots round with his head facing the outside and I cannot get him to bring it in. It is bizaare. He doesn't do that going up and down the road. He can look from side to side, but doesn't go along with his head strained to the left, but that's what he does in the school.
This puts me off jumping him, because it makes him feel very unbalanced. If he's bad in trot he's going to be worse in canter, but if I can get him to stop rushing I'll be satisfied. I think he could jump well in a field, because it's a big space, but he's not very good in an arena. We'll see. Either way, we were supposed to do some dressage next Sunday, but I'm going to withdraw. I really don't see the point of travelling all the way there for a judge to tell me something I know already. I am still going to school him as I'd like to do some showing this year, but I need to put the work in. Watch this space.

Saturday, 22 January 2011


I am so glad to see the end of what's been an incredibly busy week. Missis was away Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, appeared briefly Thursday morning, then flew to France in the afternoon and came back last night! 'Struth. This means I've mucked out all four horses every day except Thursday, when I only had Zak and Barnaby to do. It's also got colder and colder as the week's gone on, and yesterday the tap was frozen, so I had to do all the horse waters from my kitchen tap again. It also means I can't wash the horses' legs off at night, which is a pain.
As you can imagine, this hasn't left me a lot of time to do much else. By the time I've finished I just want to come in and collapse. I lunged Zak twice and rode Barnaby too, and levelled the manege, which was phenomenally hard work. It took four attempts to get the quad going and to pump the tyres up.
I have made a few cards though, these two for a commission from one of Mr O's colleagues:

How cute is this image? It's from Lili of the Valley. I was saving it for my granddaughter's birthday in August, but this customer wanted a card for her niece and I decided this would be perfect. I was so carried away I immediately made another one for the shop.

I'm very pleased with this one as well, another stamp from Lili of the Valley. It looks as though I'll be collecting these! I am definitely discovering my 'style'. Previously if anyone had asked me, I wouldn't really have known what to say, but even I can't help noticing I'm drawn to pastel colours and cute bears. There's always room for another bear in my collection. I love the lace and the flowers on this card, which are from Wild Orchid Crafts. These flowers are very petite and I do have some much bigger ones in various colours. There are lots of beautiful blogs where people show you cards used with these, but it has made me wonder recently whether people struggle to get them into an envelope, and whether they think to try it out with their own makes! Having made a card recently for Missis' son, I felt very strange when I had to actually write in it and put it in the envelope myself, I'm so used to making them for other people now.

I have actually been down to the shop today to take a few more. My rack is in the window, and it was so thrilling to see my own cards in there. Mr O was quite impressed. I am working on several Valentine's cards, but I'll show you those nearer the time.

Hope you're all having a good weekend.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Causing Chaos - A Bit of a Rant!

Well I can't believe it's been nearly a week since I last posted. Doesn't time fly when you're not necessarily having fun?!
I had a bit of a down day on Friday, to be honest. My life is usually very calm and ordered but Missis' life is a bit of a hectic whirlwind. She flies by the seat of her pants most of the time, and moans about it, but seems to like it really. After all, if you didn't like your lifestyle, you'd change it, wouldn't you? I don't mind how she conducts her affairs, until it starts to involve me.
I've been working so hard to get Barnaby to be calm and obedient, slipping in a lot of the techniques in the Perfect Manners book, which have been working wonderfully well.
And what I do know is that horses thrive on routine. My horses go out every morning straight after breakfast, and come in around 3pm depending on the weather. If it's absolutely pouring I'd bring them in earlier, but they're grateful for this! Horses like to know where they stand with things, and they like to know what's coming next.
Anyway, Missis had this thing going on about, "We'll ride the cobs in the morning and put them back out and I'll muck out one stable, then get the TB's in and you can lunge Zak and I'll ride (blah, blah, blah...)
So she has gone from turning her horses out at 6.30am for four mornings, then leaving them in on Friday until midday, because she wanted to ride Lyndy clean from the stable. So we rode out, me on Barnaby, in a double bridle (thank goodness!) and it was all fine. We came back fairly late (say 2pm) and Missis wanted me to put Barnaby back out as she hadn't finished mucking out. Reluctantly I agreed. Even as I put him back out, Barnaby looked at me as if to say, "This is a bit pointless, isn't it?" but it was too late by then, I'd done it.
Then Missis took ages to muck out, but eventually finished around 3pm. So she wanted to get Zak and Hugo in and leave Lindy and Barnaby out. Like that's gonna happen! But here's where I should have trusted my own judgement and not listened to her. I took a headcollar and leadrope to get Zak in but didn't take one for Barnaby (because he wasn't meant to come in) which is my own stupid fault because I knew full well there's no way he'd stand there (so close to tea time!) and let me just take Zak.
So I opened the electric fence and stood putting a headcollar on Zak, when Barnaby marched up. I realised I was totally and utterly stuck in the mud, my boots were rooted to the spot, and Barnaby was heading straight for me. He did look at me as if to say, 'Get out of the way, stupid woman!' then fleetingly looked confused when I didn't move (my life was flashing before my eyes, that's why!) and luckily I had the sense to keep Zak in front of me, so Barnaby had to skirt round me.
No sooner had this happened when Lyndy looked up and said, "That's a bl#*dy good idea!" and barged past me as well. I managed to get my boots up out of the mud and took Zak in, trying to keep him calm as Barnaby and Lyndy were running round the back of the muck heap, across the garden, down the drop (it's a raised bed) and onto the drive. I had a moment's panic before remembering we'd closed the gate, and got Zak safely into his stable. He was standing there, absolutely rigid , saying, "This is so exciting!" and watching Barnaby's antics through the open door.
The next thing we knew, Lyndy appeared, skidded to a halt, and then trotted into his stable. We swiftly shut the door on him. Hot on his heels was Barnaby, but he shot past the stable entrance and was only halted at our garden gate. Thank goodness the gate was closed, I dread to think what carnage he could have caused running around in our little garden. Barnaby had to turn himself round in a very small space before heading back to the stables. The trouble was, he decided to go off and have a chat with Hugo, and nearly got totally stuck. He managed to back himself out, then eventually decided to go into his own stable, where I slammed the door behind him. Good grief, how exhausting was that? (although, can I just say, Barnaby did look rather stunning jumping off the garden, but that's beside the point.)
Then after all that Missis decided not to ride after all! All that saga for nothing. I've got to tell you I'm writing this because this sort of thing happens on a regular basis. Missis will say, "I'm riding at one o'clock." Then she rings me at 2pm (sitting here waiting for her) and says, "Sorry I got held up in a (phone) meeting, I can't ride now." Grrr! Sometimes she'll say, "I'm just going for a ride, can you get the boys off the bus for me?" as she sails up the drive. Hmmm.
I have this plan where I will muck out my two stables, lunge Zak, go in and get some work done, come out at 2pm, get Barnaby in and ride him, leave him in his stable afterwards, bring Zak in and give them tea.
I've discussed this with Mr O and he says I should stick to my routine, and if Missis wants to ride out with me that's fine, but not to keep chopping and changing my routine to suit her as none of us know whether we're coming or going. What do you think? I do know I was totally fed up on Friday and can't go on like that. I am not a robot that sits in the corner until someone switches me on when they need me, I have a life of my own, too.
Rant over then. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated, actually.
Mrs O.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Well Goodness Gracious Me!

You may recall that sometime before Christmas I went down to the village shop to see if the man who owns it would be willing to sell my cards in there. After that it snowed and snowed and I wasn't able to do anything about it until last Saturday when I finally took a selection down. I have been living in fear and trepidation ever since. He said he'd have a look at them and to come down in the week and we'd have a chat.
By this morning I decided I couldn't stand it any longer and set off in the rain and the fog. When I got there he was hoovering up (as one does) so I asked if I'd come at a bad time. He said it was fine, but walked off to get the bag of cards I'd left him. I thought he was going to hand it to me and say 'thanks but no thanks,' but he got the cards out and laid them on the counter. He said, "Yes I don't see why we can't go for selling these," and proceeded to talk brass tacks about 'sale or return' etc. I was so expecting him to say no, I nearly said, "Pardon? Come again?" but kept smiling and listening and making arrangements. His parting words were, "So if you could make 10-15 Valentine's cards, that would be great." Oh my giddy aunt, as my grandmother would say. I set off, high as a kite, towards home, and rang Mr O on my mobile to tell him the good news. Then I set off, huffing and puffing, all the way back up the hill. The effort was nearly enough to wipe the smile off my face (it was more of a friendly grimace by then) but my spirits were soaring, as you can imagine.
I will be able to use phrases like, 'This one's for the shop.' Think of it - little me.
I have been busy on the aforementioned cards, and have a couple to show you:

I used this stamp on our anniversary card last year and it's so sweet. I gave it a sepia colour tone, which I now know how to do with Promarkers. I've cut out the sentiment and put a floral border on it using my Bigshot. Some sweet little flowers just seemed to finish it off nicely.

I obviously like little bears, don't I? Here's another cute little guy. I am so thrilled to be able to make a card like this as I saw something similar in a magazine last year and have wanted to make it ever since. I hope you can see that I've embossed the pearlised pink card before cutting the centre circle out. I did add a little 'Happy Birthday' sentiment later on. Hope you like it.

So that's my hot news for the day. Rejoice with me, my cup runneth over.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Kelly Marks - Perfect Manners

Kelly Marks heads up an organisation called Intelligent Horsemanship. She studied under Monty Roberts for some years, and they still work together quite often, but her methods have really taken off here in the UK. She is, without a doubt, a very experienced horsewoman.
Now, what bugs me about a lot of these organisations, like Parelli and Enlightened Equitation, is that they tell you they have brilliant methods, but then share absolutely nothing with you unless you're prepared to pay quite a lot of money for it. (The British Dyslexia Association is exactly the same!)
But Kelly Marks has actually written a book to share lots of her methods, and the one I've been reading is Perfect Manners. If you've read it, I'd love to know what you think of it.
I don't know what I thought it would be about (like the title's not a dead giveaway!) but I read it last January, so I could see if it 'worked' on Max. All I was interested in was the section on Join-Up, so I think I must have skipped the first couple of chapters and got straight on with it. You can read about my rather thrilling experience here . But after that I left it for nearly a year, and now I have Barnaby and not Max.
But the thing is, Barnaby is a very arrogant, dominant horse (but not nasty, and not a bully). Mr O has coped with this by... being Mr O. He has used brute strength (being a man) and stubbornness (they don't actually come much more stubborn!) and this has won the day.
But I am a woman, with the average woman's strength, faced with a horse who barges out of his stable, with no way of being able to stop him. And as my strength isn't likely to undergo a massive increase any time soon, I had to find another way of getting Barnaby to improve his manners.
So a couple of months ago, I turned to 'Perfect Manners' once again. I did Join-Up with him back in November. It's a method of getting your horse to want to be with you and respect you as his leader, but more importantly for me, the horse learns to respect your space. I have to say, it worked brilliantly. We were running round the school together, jumping fences side by side. It was fabulous.
Then we went back into the stables and shortly afterwards Barnaby jumped over the stable door. You know all about that. And it left me wondering what the point of Join-Up was, and what it had actually achieved.
This was followed by five or six weeks of snow, so I couldn't do anything with Barnaby at all. But in this time I managed to read the chapters I'd skipped, and it turns out these are the chapters with the key stuff in it.
Then on January 2nd I took Barnaby into the manege to lunge him and he had a fit because he'd got so much energy. I ended up doing Join-Up with him again, and again it was fabulous. He followed me everywhere.
Now then...
I have noticed that he doesn't like me putting his headcollar on from outside the stable door. But I can't go in without him being tied up, because he'll barge past me, so I can't go in unless I've put the headcollar on. I've waited patiently for him to stick his nose in the headcollar, but he actually steps backwards, further into the stable. My first thought, was, 'He's stepping backwards, inviting me in.' Then I realised he's stepping backwards, out of my space. I decided to risk opening the door and the possibility of being flattened. He took two more steps back. I was stunned. I put the headcollar on, changed his rug and turned him out.
The next day, the same thing.
I can't tell you how fabulous this is, not being crushed against a stable wall, while half a tonne of horse cruises past me.
Next thing:
One of the exercises to teach your horse manners, is to get him to stand still without moving. Standing with your arms outstretched means, 'stand still.' Putting your arms down, and looking down (and non-threatening) means 'come to me.'
I rode Barnaby Thursday and afterwards had to open the gate. It opens towards you and you have to make your horse step backwards to get out. I decided to try what Kelly Marks suggests. I stood there with my arms out, meaning 'stand' and walked backwards to the gate. Barnaby stood motionless. This had to be a fluke, so I put my arms down and glanced down and he immediately began to walk towards me. I was so thrilled I was trembling. I caught his reins, gave him a rub, and we left the arena together.
Then on Friday they were in from lunchtime onwards as it was snowing quite heavily. I fed Barnaby at tea time as usual, but afterwards he kept banging his stable door. At first I thought he hadn't realised I'd put his haynet up. I watched him really closely. He realised he had my full attention and looked down at his rug, giving it a little nip. I realised immediately what he wanted. Normally after tea, I would take his turnout rug off and we'd have a big scratching session. This movement meant, 'Hey mum, can't you get this rug off and give me a groom!' I couldn't believe it. I opened the stable door, he stepped back, I took off his rug, and the grooming commenced. I'm not sure who was happiest.
We aren't out of the woods yet, but at the moment, I can't believe how much he's changed in such a short space of time. I've learned a lot about him, but a lot about myself, and the way I am around horses (not very assertive). I would recommend this book to any horse owner. If you read it and read it before putting it into practice, it'll reap rewards. Unless of course, your horse has perfect manners already. There will be more to come on this topic I'm sure.
For now, I thought I'd leave you with a little video snippet of what this grooming/scratching session really involves.
See here. It's well worth it.
Have a great day everyone,
Mrs O.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Why I Know Nothing About Beef, and other stories...

Thankyou for your comments about what to do with my braising steak - it made me hungry just reading your suggestions! In the end Delia did in fact come to the rescue. Her recipe is called Latin American Beef Stew. It is made with the beef, onions, chilli, garlic, chopped tomatoes, red wine, sweetcorn and peppers, and was absolutely gorgeous.
So why didn't I have a clue what to do with this meat? The answer, I think, is that when I was a child, beef was considered to be very expensive, so we wouldn't have had it very often, anyway. And then, I hate to say this, but my mother was a terrible cook (she is sadly no longer with us, so I guess it's okay to spill the beans in this way.) There was many a day when I'd come home from school and find a burnt out saucepan on the garden path. Please don't think I'm kidding. Sometimes she couldn't boil an egg without being distracted and letting the pan boil dry. She couldn't make spaghetti bolognaise. I don't know why. Her mother, and in fact her mother-in-law were both exceptional cooks, so there's no accounting for it. My sister, also, is an amazing cook.
Anyway, back to the beef. I don't really remember having it at home, and if we did, it would have tasted like shoe leather, so in my head, I didn't think I liked it. I know if we eat in a restaurant I usually order fish or chicken. It's only in very recent years I've ordered beef occasionally.
Then we moved here, and Pongo and Missis love to have barbeques in the summer, and Pongo always cooks big bits of beef. I think it may be sirloin, I'm not sure. Every year they buy a whole Aberdeen Angus cow and fill the freezer with it, and this year they asked if we'd like to go in with them. We agreed, and now my freezer is full of beef, and ... it's absolutely, flippin' gorgeous!
But of course, I don't know the significance of each piece of beef and how you're supposed to cook it (technically I can't fry an egg either, but that's another story!)
You used to be able to buy books called, 'The Dairy Book of Home Management' which told you which joints came from which part of the pig, sheep or cow, and how to cook them. Finding a book like that now is practically impossible (and I'm only talking about a book from the 70's or 80's, not exactly Mrs Beeton).
And so, I've turned to my much mocked, 'Delia's How To Cook (Book 2). It's so interesting I can't begin to tell you. She says...
'In most cases forequarter meat (which comes from the front half of the animal) is best for slow cooking because this is the bit that works harder, stretching and pulling the rest along all the time (examples for beef include brisket joint, and braising and stewing beef). Muscle and tissue begin to build up as the animal matures, and this, together with a marbling of fat in-between the meat fibres, seems happily to be tailor-made for slow cooking...'
It's making me hungry just thinking about it! I bet you knew all that already, didn't you? How clueless am I? I'm forty-three for goodness sake, and all this is a mystery to me (and my son-in-law is a butcher!)
So there will be 'adventures in beef' for quite a while, until it's all used up, and then, I think you'll probably find, we'll get some more.
So, what's your favourite bit of beef, and what do you do with it? I'd love to know.
Mrs O.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window: the robins and the blue tits are fighting over the food.

I am thinking: why aren't my horses outside? It's only rain.

I am thankful for: my desk. I read on a forum recently that lots of people have so little room they have to craft on the sofa. That would drive me bonkers.

From the Learning Rooms: More practise with my Sizzix Bigshot.

I am wearing: brown cords and a black sweatshirt, mucking out gear. What happened to carefully colour-co-ordinated me?!

I am reading: Perfect Manners by Kelly Marks. Still not sure...

I am hoping: to collect some fresh eggs today.

On my mind: There is no bread left in the freezer.

From the kitchen: What on earth am I supposed to do with this huge piece of braising steak? Delia, help me!

I am creating: sweet little cards using Forever Friends decoupage.

I am hearing: the rain drumming on the roof.

Noticing that: this room looks so much bigger now the Christmas decorations are all down and packed away.

Around the house: I have so much laundry to do.

One of my favourite things: 'Starting Your Day Right' by Joyce Meyer. So uplifting.

A Scripture thought: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...

A picture thought:

My darling youngest grandson, Caelan.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Year, New You?

Sorry to use such a hideous, magazine-style title today, but New Year's Resolutions are playing on my mind.
Firstly, I have really worked on the resolutions I made last year. The first one was to stop the terrible habit I have of interrupting people when they're talking to me. I mean, how rude! I just have the urge to get all my information out as quickly as possible, but it's terrible not to listen to people and really think about what they're saying before leaping in with your own point of view all the time, isn't it? Anyway, I'm pleased to say I've got a lot better at it, and am very conscious of it when I do 'o'erleap' someone. A work in progress, I think...
The second one was to stop dithering. I had to check up on this, as I wasn't sure if I meant procrastinating, but the dictionary says that means to keep putting off things you need to do. That isn't really my problem. I actually struggle with, "Shall I put the horses out/keep them in?" (when the weather's bad). "Shall I ride, or not?" "Shall I put this rug on Barnaby, or this rug?" Honestly, it drives me mad. Sometimes I don't ride and then I regret it later on - grrr! I have got a lot better at this too, but it's obviously tucked inside me somewhere as part of my nature, so I'll have to keep working on it.
So as I don't smoke and don't really need to diet (lucky me!) I'm not going to do the 'stop biting your nails' type of resolution (because I won't be able to stick to it for more than two days!) Instead I'm going to put up some challenges to cover the whole year, in addition to the monthly ones that go on my sidebar and change regularly. So, in no particular order, here are my challenges for 2011:
1. Get confident in jumping again, and do some with Barnaby this year. This is because I am loving the TREC competitions, and even they have a jump in the obstacle phase, so I forfeit my points for not doing it, which seems a shame just for basic cowardice. (I used to jump all the time).
2. Have a go at a challenge blog for cardmaking. I think I am getting good enough now, so I want to pluck up the courage to have a go. There are two aspects here: one is the challenge of making the card, the second is the technical know-how required to link my entry to someone else's blog. Oh well...
3. Improve my cooking skills and make more imaginative meals. This stems from way back, before we even lived here, when we would finish work, go to the yard, do the horses, get in at 8pm and find something quick and easy to cook before falling asleep. I don't have that excuse any more, as I am at home all day, and I am definitely bored with just buying the same old things when we go food shopping. Any recipes you have would be gratefully received. Much more about this in future posts, I'm sure.
4. Go to church as often as possible, and regularly do my home Bible study. I have no excuse, especially not lack of time.
5. Keep on studying German. I really love it, and now have more opportunities to use it, with friends on facebook and certain blogs I read. I'd like to read something and write something every week.

I think that's plenty to be going on with, especially with the monthly challenges running alongside. Have you decided on yours yet? Let me know if you have, I'd love to have a nose!
Mrs O.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Busy Bunny = Happy Bunny!

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you're enjoying the first few days of 2011. As the title says, I've been pretty busy, but to be honest I'm looking forward to everything returning to normal.
We had a lovely dinner with Pongo and Missis on New Years Eve, and got back in the early hours of the morning. This kind of wiped out New Year's Day, which is a shame. Now I have a sore throat, which I'm not exactly thrilled about.
Over Christmas I've been praying for my friend Diane's daughter, Joanie. She went into labour on 23rd December and finally gave birth on December 27th. That's quite a time, isn't it? They've nicknamed the baby 'Grinch' because he stole Christmas! The poor girl was exhausted when she finally gave birth, but I'm sure the sight of her new baby son made it all worthwhile.
I've seen on a blog somewhere how to make a little box. I would love to credit this to that blog, but I can't remember where I saw it. Anyway, I've made this little box from a chocolate orange box Mr O got for Christmas!
I've used my Nellie Snellen dies to cut the ovals for the front. No matter how talented you are, it is extremely difficult to cut a good circle or oval, whether you use scissors or a craft knife, it doesn't look that good. With the dies and the Bigshot, though, it's a doddle.
Here is the top:

I've had that stamp for ages, and never used it. I'm going to buy some little baby socks to put in the box. I'm pretty sure I've got a matching card somewhere, so I'll send it up via Mr O next week. I hope she likes it.

Finally, there has been some action on the horse front, as the snow has slowly slipped away. Barnaby has been incredibly badly behaved, though. On the first day I took him into the manege to lunge him, but he was kangarooing on the end of my arm all the way there. Once Mr O opened the gate, I'm afraid I took the cowardly option and let go. He went careering around for quite a while, with the lunge line trailing behind him (not a good idea at all, as if he treads on it he could injure his neck.) After a little while he let me pick it up, and I decided to take it off and do some join up with him. It was brilliant, as he caught on really quickly, so we played tag around the arena, and we were jumping over the trotting pole side by side, which was fabulous.
The next day we went to catch him, and he just went mad, galloping up and down in the field. It took ages to make him stand, and Mr O put his head collar on. He managed to get Barnaby as far as the gate, but Barnaby suddenly whipped round and set off, dragging Mr O behind him and breaking the headcollar. To be honest, I was tempted to leave him, but Mr O goes back to work on Tuesday, and if I haven't got upsides of him by then, I've had it.
Eventually Mr O got him in and tacked him up and took him out for a hack. Barnaby had calmed down a bit by then. He's all mouth and trousers at the moment, as he has loads of energy, but no stamina, which is a good thing.
So today I've plucked up the courage to get on him myself. I took him into the school and he was like a coiled spring at first, looking for something to spook at, but after a couple of minutes he settled down. I kept changing pace and direction and he soon began to concentrate. He's not as supple as he was after five weeks off, it was like riding a cardboard box, but it'll soon come back. I really want to do the dressage at the end of the month, so that will give me something to work towards. At least he didn't go bucking and leaping around the school. Most of my horsey friends on facebook are having the same problem, so I'm not alone. I'm hoping to hack him out tomorrow. I'm sure if I go with Mr O, he'll be fine. Here's hoping!