Friday, 25 February 2011

Pretty In Pink

So much to tell you, so little time, so I'd better get started...
Firstly, I noticed in my random comments in the last post, that I stated that my favourite colour is blue. Now when I really stop and consider it, I am indeed very fond of blue, and green. But why oh why didn't I just tell the truth? My favourite colour is pink, yes

there's nothing shameful in that, is there?
I like pink.
Look, here's Favourite Jacket:

which obviously goes with Favourite Skirt:

(which clearly should have been ironed but isn't).

and 'Sweatshirt I am More Than Likely to Wear to Church':

It's not a coincidence, is it?

So why do I feel like a criminal every time someone asks me what my favourite colour is? Maybe I think people will think I am a ditsy little girl who likes pink (with a chihuahua in my handbag) which clearly I am not (although I do have a soft spot for cupcakes with pink icing). I am a very down-to-earth girl who wears jeans and walks like a farmer's wife. Well I've admitted it now and I'm going to revel in it. Good news for favourite notebook, then...

No wonder it has pride of place on my desk.

Secondly, my mojo has been slightly absent on the cardmaking front, but that's because I managed to convince myself that I wasn't going to sell any of the Valentine's Day cards I made for the shop. I have finally been down today to do a stock take and I've sold nine out of the ten cards that I made, plus five other cards. I can't believe it. I'd got into a bit of a state about not buying any more stamps or paper, so I've heaved a huge sigh of relief. I still let Mr O buy the celebratory Chinese meal though...

I have made a few cards, though, so I hope you like this one:

It's my little mouse stamp from Little Claire's Designs. I do so love the style of their stamps and this one is no exception. I dare say this one will crop up again.

I've got quite a bit to tell you about Barnaby but I'd better save that for my next post. Visitors are coming tomorrow so I've had one of those major clean-ups that makes you barely recognise your own house.

Have a great weekend everyone,

Mrs O.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Awards Time

I am thrilled to have received a lovely award from the equally lovely Shirley at Nannieflash:
This is the Stylish Blogger Award, and if you receive it, you must:

1. Make a post linking back to the person who gave you the award.

2. Share 7 random things about yourself.

3. Award 7 recently discovered bloggers with this award.

4. Contact these bloggers and tell them they have won this award.

So... here goes with 7 random things about me.

My sister is older than me by ten months! I will be 44 in March. She is already 44. She won't be 45 until the end of April. Goodness Mother, what were you thinking?!

I am scared of spiders, heights and lifts.

I don't drive and never want to learn!

I want a hawk, a donkey and a goat.

I didn't learn to ride until I was 19. I've been making up for lost time ever since.

The first time Mr O proposed to me I said yes, then said no a week later. The second time I said no outright. The third time I said yes. Poor man.

My favourite colour is blue.

I know the thing is to pass these awards on to people who are fairly new to blogging and don't have many followers, but I want to pass this award onto some bloggers who have been an inspiration to me, and to whom I want to express my gratitude, and so the seven people I am passing this award onto, in no particular order are:

Claudia at Pretty Pressings

Enfys at Going Buggy
If you've missed this blog, you've missed out!

Fi at Marmalade Rose The person who got me into crafting in the first place.

Auntie Gwen's Diary makes me laugh every time I drop in
Debbie at Crafting Fairy Drop by and say hi. You'll be inspired
Lytha at A Horse Crazy American In Germany This blog fascinates me on many levels. The story of a woman who travelled her lovely horse from Seattle to Germany.
And finally, I know she has already received this award, but I love Anne's blog Stamps and Paper I love every single card she makes.
So pop in and have a gander at some of these blogs, I promise you won't be disappointed.

We did get an award of a different kind, hubby and me, although we were unable to go and pick it up in person as the presentation evening was the night we took Barnaby to the vets to have his eye stitched up!

This is the Platinum award for completing all the rides with Amber Valley Riding Club last year. I am thrilled with it. There were only four of us who got it (we are the only people mad enough to have done the Osberton Ride in the thunder and lightening in June). I have shown Barnaby. He tried to eat it. Oh well...

Mrs O.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Slightly AWOL!

Hello lovely readers, I'm sorry I've not been about much. After a fabulous ride on Friday afternoon, I came indoors and was struck down with illness really suddenly. All I had was a sore throat, not even a cough or a cold, but I kept shivering and felt really unwell. I was in bed by 7.30 pm! I slept most of Saturday (when we were supposed to be having our Valentines meal) and quite a bit of Sunday. Mr O has been wonderful, as he's mucked out for me, done loads of shopping and all of the ironing. The weekend has been a bit of a blur really, I've felt so strange, but I'm much better now, thank goodness. Such a peculiar illness.
However, during this time, I've finished reading, 'The Jane Austen Book Club' by Karen Joy Fowler. Unfortunately these days I'm not up on all Jane Austen's characters. The best thing to do would be to read Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey, then read The Jane Austen Book Club and you'd probably see what she's getting at and find the book a great deal more amusing and clever, but it didn't really have that much appeal, to be honest.

It's been a bit strange at home, too, as Mr O was suddenly put on a shift system at work for last week. It's just an experiment to see if they can keep up with production this way. At first it sounded wonderful, Mr O would work from 6am to 2pm and be home when it was light, so he could ride. Fab. What it actually meant was that he'd get up at 5am to leave for work, and say, "You could have Zak tacked up ready for me to ride when I get home!" Sounds good, but that would mean getting Zak in at exactly the time of day I would normally ride. I usually get Barnaby in around 2pm, wash his legs off (which I only want to do once a day for each horse) go for a ride, come back and untack him, then go and get Zak in to keep him company, and give them their tea. This works really well, but now Mr O wants me to be getting Zak in just when I would normally be out myself. I work to this time frame as I quite often have Missis' two sons after school when she's away, so I like to have everything done so I can meet them off the school bus at 4pm, but this shift system has totally scuppered my routine.
And do you know the worst thing of all? Normally Mr O gets up at 6am and brings me a cup of tea in bed, in a thermal cup with a lid on (how spoiled am I?!) that is still hot when I wake up at 7am. Because he's left for work at five, there's been no point in doing it and I've had to get up at seven and make my own cup of tea. I'm afraid this puts me in a bad mood before I've even woken up properly! So I am probably the only person delighted that the shift system has been so successful they've decided to abandon it - Yippeee!
Last Tuesday I had a conversation with Missis where she was saying she couldn't bear to watch someone else ride her horse and I said I've never had a problem with other people (instructors I mean) riding Barnaby. I suppose this is because I'm so used to seeing Mr O on him, as Barnaby was his for so long.
Anyway, the very next day I was so tired I asked Mr O to ride Barnaby for me. I helped Mr O get on and watched them sail off up the road together and couldn't bear it. I thought I was going to burst into tears. The odd thing was, Barnaby was really naughty on the ride, (snigger!) and when he came back he kept looking at me as if to say, "Why didn't you and I go? You're my mum, aren't you?" It was so fab, I think we've obviously bonded, as I used to be this way with Max. I couldn't stand watching other people riding him. He used to look at me as if to say, "Why are you allowing this?" From now on, if I'm too ill or tired to ride, or the weather's bad, he doesn't get ridden. It's as simple as that. It's because Mr O is always saying, "You don't ride that horse enough!" Well I can't believe Barnaby is in the field thinking, 'It's about time someone rode me, isn't it?'
Finally, you may have gathered that Barnaby is a bit of a bolshie sort, especially with being led on a lead rope. Sometimes he's fine and sometimes he just barges off wherever he feels like it. The day after he cut his eye, he was barging around in the stables, swung round and hit his head on a post and made his gums bleed. What a twit! A few times he's come in and decided he'd rather go in Zak's stable than his own, so he tries to force his way in through the closed stable door, leaning so hard he nearly wrenches it off its hinges. It's like having a half tonne aggressive teenager with ADHD.
I've got so fed up (and embarrassed) about this, I started to look into possibilities for prevention. The first thing I found is called a Dually halter, made by Monty Roberts, which is meant to be brilliant (and I'm sure it is) but it's forty-two pounds. Gasp! My friend Debbie put me onto a Kemp Controller, which is just a thin piece of cord that you clip onto the headcollar and clip the other end to your leadrope. I was a bit sceptical, but it only cost 7.50 so I decided to buy one.
And I have to tell you that Barnaby has been walking round like a lamb in it ever since. It is absolutely amazing. To be honest, if I'd known such a thing existed I'd have bought one years ago, even before we moved here. It looks so simple, but it has such a powerful effect on the horse. As I've said before, Mr O has been able to combat Barnaby with brute strength, but I am just a normal woman and I can't fight him. With this simple device I can make him go wherever I need him to be (or tie him up to have his legs washed) and he has no choice but to stand there. I was concerned that it worked in the same way as a Halti on a dog. This goes onto the muzzle and has a clip underneath where you attach the lead. It's great for gaining control of the dog, but it doesn't teach them to walk to heel. You haven't actually altered the dogs behaviour. With the Kemp Controller you actually alter the horse's behaviour, which is wonderful. I would recommend one to anyone struggling to get their horse to walk nicely with them.
I'd better pop off now to go and clean out the chickens. Finally, it is like a real spring day. In fact, I think I might go for a ride...
Mrs O.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Show and Tell

My grandson's christening on Sunday was wonderful. Not many photos, as trying to get that many boys to stay still long enough to take a picture is virtually impossible.
But I must show you the card I made. Have a look:

Ever since I saw this image from Lili of the Valley I've been dying to get it, so of course this was the perfect excuse. The stamp is very detailed and it took several attempts to get everything onto the card. It was lovely to colour in. As you can see I've kept the design very simple, bearing in mind it's for a boy.
It gave me itchy fingers though and I was dying to make something else. If I'd had loads of notice I'd have done a cross stitch sampler or something, but I only had one day left. So I decided to make this:

"It's... a box," you say. Yes, it's a box, but not just an ordinary box. It's an exploding box. You take the lid off and enjoy your own 'ta-da!' moment.

It's got lots of christening symbols on it, plus the details of the christening, where and when it took place and who the godparents are. It took me all day to make. It's all very well watching a video on how to make one, but the demonstrator obviously had all the bits pre-prepared and two assistants to stick all the bits on the smaller sections while she did the big one. When you have to start from scratch, deciding on your colour scheme and what it is you're trying to convey, there's quite a lot of work involved, but it was a labour of love. Daughter 1 really liked it anyway, and it's something to keep, isn't it?
I think this will pass my challenge this month to make something with paper that isn't a card, don't you?
More goings-on tomorrow, but in the mean time, can I just say thankyou for your recent comments that have totally and utterly made my day.
Be blessed everyone.
Mrs O.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Stitch Up

Crikey, what a hectic weekend! Mucking out four horses a day this week seems like a rest by comparison.
Firstly the disappointment of shopping in Matlock. To be fair, it was pouring with rain, but the shops were very boring. Bakewell is much nicer.
Mr O went for a long hack, even though it was throwing it down. I went to get Barnaby in and washed his legs off. I stood up to look at him and realised he had a long, wide gash right next to his eye.
I brought him into his stable, tied him up and washed all around the eye with hibiscrub. It was obvious he wanted sympathy. He tried his, 'Now look what you've made me do!' expression, which didn't work. The gash turned out to be quite wide, and I knew it needed to be stitched. It was either that or stand there all night, holding it between my finger and thumb.
The good thing was that I remained really calm. I felt I let the side down a bit with the 'stuck over the stable door' incident and decided to make up for it now. I gently chatted to him and assured him that I was going to get it sorted out. He took this at face value (horses - no imagination!)
Eventually Mr O returned and I calmly pointed the wound out to him and he knew we had to call the vet. They said, as it was so close to his eye (no more than 1mm away from the outer edge of his eye) that we needed to bring him in. We were a bit concerned about this as it was pretty windy, but there was nothing for it. I slapped on the travel boots and away we went. Barnaby wasn't keen at first but soon settled down on the way. I think he knew we were doing our best for him.
We arrived at the vet hospital and unloaded him. He was confused as to why he was travelling in the dark but walked willingly into a stable that had been prepared for him. He was quite happy to introduce himself to the mare next door, but she was having none of it and kept squealing at him. Barnaby kept returning to me in confusion. (Mares - no sense of humour!)
The vet came out (the same one who dealt with Zak when he had choke) and injected a pain killer, antibiotics and a sedative. Then she looked into his eye and confirmed that there was no damage to the eye itself. Barnaby wasn't on speaking terms with her by then, but it was too late as the sedative had kicked in. His head gradually got lower and his legs spread out to support himelf - a good job as holding up 438kg of inert horse is no easy task.
Then the vet came out with a small curved threaded needle. I held Barnaby still while she put the stitches in. Fortunately he was very calm. I just kept talking to him and he was fine. We were given his paperwork. It just said 'Stitch Up'. By the time we got the bill (we won't go there) I wasn't sure exactly who this applied to!
Eventually the sedative began to wear off, and then something very interesting happened. Every time the vet reappeared, Barnaby flung his head up and gave a deep warning whinny, as if to say, "Don't let that woman come near me ever again!" It was so strange. Horses aren't stupid, are they?
He came round a bit more, then we had the fun task of loading a woozy horse into a lorry in the pitch dark. After a few false starts he eventually walked up the ramp and we fastened him in and put the back up.
Half an hour later we were back home (the wind had dropped by then, thankfully) and walked him slowly into his stable. Zak was very concerned about why his friend had left him. I took Barnaby's travel boots and rug off and put his pj's on. He didn't even want a bedtime story, poor boy. Zak was full of questions, but Barnaby just slept, relieved it was all over and glad to be back in his own bed.
I asked the vet if he needed to be kept in the next day. She said no and that it was very likely he'd rub the stitches out and could do that just as easily in the stable as in the field, so on Sunday we put him out as usual. He immediately began to drink from puddles in the field and when I mucked him out I realised he'd drunk his bucket dry. He must have woken up in the morning with a terrible hangover.
So thankfully he is fairly unharmed, the silly Hoof. And to think, when I sold Max I thought I'd hardly have anything to write about on here, as Max always had something up his sleeve. Life with Barnaby was going to be so simple!
Loads more to tell you but it will have to wait until my next post.
Hope everything is well with all of you (and not so expensive!)
Mrs O.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - February

Outside My Window: My garden chairs have blown over in the wind and the bird seed is scattered everywhere.

I am thinking: of the terrible situation in Egypt and all the reports of snow in the U.S. Missis is going there on Sunday. Maybe she won't be able to go (hurray!) maybe she'll get stuck there (boo!) maybe we'll get snow here (noooooooooo!)

I am thankful: that Barnaby doesn't seem so lame after yesterday (a mystery).

I am wearing: my new pyjamas and dressing gown. They are white with big pink and pale brown circles on. The pj's are brushed cotton. I look like a flump.

I am planning: to do some shopping in Matlock tomorrow. I've never been there before. I wonder if there's a craft shop? Mmmmm.

I am creating: a Christening card for Caelan. It's killing me to keep it simple.

I am hoping: it doesn't snow (again). Every time I think it isn't going to happen it gets forecast again.

I am reading: 'The Jane Austen Book Club' by Karen Joy Fowler. So what if I thought it was total tosh? I looked it up on Wikipedia and read the review. It's probably one of the cleverest books I'll ever read. Oh well.

On my mind: A romantic meal for Valentine's Day. Some sort of red/pink pudding.

From the kitchen: I have made some shortbread. So easy, so delicious, so much better than the shopbought kind, look:
Around the house: Goodbye poinsettia, hello tulips!

Noticing that: It's so windy outside the water is slopping about in the toilet. It's like being on a ship. Oh my!

One of my favourite things: hot chocolate. Perfect for a windy day like this. I have been outside and been blown about like Piglet.

A scripture thought: I was thinking about February being the 'month of lurve', then in our study last week we came across this: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' John 15:13

A few plans for the rest of the week: So looking forward to getting together with the whole family for the christening on Sunday.

A picture thought:

Tessa Bear, faithful friend, and constant companion. Where would I be without you?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I've come to a decision with Barnaby. Let me explain. My very first pony, Crispin, was the love of my life. I never took him to any shows. I didn't even know what showing was back then. Loads of other people from the yard used to go. I never felt I was missing out on anything, or that I was deprived in any way - I had a horse, for goodness sake, what more could a girl ask for? Crispin was the love of my life.
Then I got Max, and I loved him too, but felt under constant pressure to perform. This meant I liked him more when he did well, and got frustrated with him when he didn't. It's very strange. It's why a lot of people sell their horses all the time. That's quite a confession, really. I think it stems from doing that Bible study last week about unconditional love. I have actually stood in the show ring with Max and as the judge has placed me fifth or sixth, I've whispered in his ear, "Don't worry, darling, the judge is completely blind!"
But I've realised with Barnaby I want to get back to what I had with Crispin, i.e. I want to love him for who he is, not what he can do. I used to ride Crispin out and every ride was an adventure, because I had a horse. It was the most thrilling thing in the world. I wanted to shout it to every passer-by, but I expect my idiot grin was a bit of a giveaway.
So last week, on Monday I rode Barnaby in the school and it was awful, just doing flat-work. Then on Wednesday I tried to jump him and it was disasterous and nearly dangerous as he tanked round with his head between his knees and tripped over the trotting poles, nearly tipping me over his neck. Honestly, I don't know what's going on with that.
Then on Friday I decided to hack out and it was utterly fantastic. We did about six miles, up hill and down dale, on roads, being passed by every kind of traffic known to man, which Barnaby doesn't even look at. We passed dogs and a woman feeding a flock of seagulls, and a skip full of rubbish and Barnaby never gave it a second glance. I was as high as a kite when I got back.
So, after big discussions with Mr O, I have decided to chuck in any kind of competing, because I need to ride this horse with no pressure whatsoever and actually be allowed to enjoy him.
I honestly feel that a massive weight has been lifted off me. If I want to ride, I will ride. If I don't, I won't. Yesterday I rode for an hour and a half, and it was absolute bliss. We went for miles. I am going to do lots of pleasure rides this year, and the odd bit of TREC and thoroughly enjoy what this horse does best, and that's that. Because I utterly love him for who he is - enough said.

I've been having lots of fun making cards, check these out:
I've liked these cute bunnies for ages and finally got round to ordering the stamp a couple of weeks ago. It took a lot of trial and error with my Promarkers to get the paleness of the two rabbits right. The paper is from My Mind's Eye and I've had it for ages. I originally bought it to do my scrapbooking with last year, but I've got loads left. I think that's the thing with these papers, the initial outlay can be quite a bit, but you get so much out of it, it more than pays for itself in the end. The main thing I wanted to do with this card, was the two bits of ribbon with the buttons on the end, which worked out really well.

I'm really pleased with this card, too:

This is a waterfall card, and I've been wanting to make one since Christmas. There was an article showing you how to make one in one of the magazines I buy, but the instructions weren't very good. If you want a brilliant tutorial, try here. This is a really good card for a man, and uses stamped images of boats and sailing things. You pull the tab at the bottom and the pictures flip up, revealing 'Happy Birthday' at the bottom. Once you've got the hang of it, I think they could be quite addictive. You could put hearts and flowers on each flap, then have 'Happy Valentine's Day' at the bottom. The possibilities are endless.

So, last Thursday, daughter 1 rang me and said, "Don't forget it's Caelan's christening next Sunday." "Pardon?" I said. "Well," she said, "I did tell dad about three weeks ago..." Marvellous. So I have sprung into action and ordered the bits I want to make his card, which fortunately came in the post yesterday. Nothing like a bit of warning, though, is there? I'll show you the card as soon as it's done.