February 28, 2009

Yummy in My Tummy: BISCUITS & GRAVY

It's been a while since my last recipe post...I took a short break at the request of a friend who need to slow her weight gain...you see, this food is good! The kind of good that sticks to your hips and ties to your thighs good! Biscuits and Gravy is a staple of our diet...I have the pudge to prove it! We have it almost every weekend, and I am not sure why it's taken me so long to post it! I guess its just that it disappears so dadgum fast I haven't the time for pics! I was up bright and early this morning tho, and got a head start on the hungry masses....so here you go!

Our infamous cast of characters:

Lots of Milk (maybe 6 cups? I have a problem committing)
Lots of Flour (maybe 2-3 cups? again, lack of commitment on my part, sorry!)
Buttermilk Biscuits (plan for at least 2 per person)
Jimmy Dean Regular Sausage (1 or 2 packages depending on how sausagy you like your gravy)

Let's get started by preheating the oven and gathering the goods! Once the oven is ready, pop in your biscuits...I highly recommend the Buttermilk variety, but use your favorite! Make it your own! Go ahead, you won't hurt my feelings...

Now, heat up your favorite skillet and toss in that Jimmy Dean sausage (I used 1 pkg here)....I must declare, Jimmy Dean cannot be matched....so although I will not be offended if you choose an alternative biscuit above, I have to say that substituting the Jimmy Dean for any other type of less than perfect sausage would be a disgrace...and I might cry...really...you don't want to carry that guilt, do you? Trust me, stick with Jimmy Dean!

After your sausage is browned, toss a cup or so of flour in there to soak up all the grease and bond to the meaty wonderfulness! Mix it around until all the sausage is covered in flour...add flour as needed....it's your call!

Here's the scary part...grab your security blankie, put on your lucky socks, rub your faithful Buddha...whatever you need to do to feel good about yourself before we take this next step...cause it's a doozy! Ready? OK, here we go......pour some milk directly into the skillet with your sausage....go ahead....it'll be OK.....just pour and pour and pour until you are a hair more than 1/4 inch from the top of the pan...this will thicken, and adding too much could be hazardous to the husband cleaning up your mess afterwards! I speak from experience!

So here I added about a cup more of flour and stirred it into the milk/sausage mixture....that gives it just the right consistency for what my family likes....a smidgen on the runny side you might say! If you like your gravy thicker, then by all means flour it up! It's your masterpiece!

Now watch the magic happen...turn it up to about 8 of 10 on the heat scale and slowly stir until you see it thicken up....I let it thicken for a couple more minutes while I continue to stir....then I take it off the heat altogether and let it sit to thicken s touch more....

While that gravy is cooling down, I plate my biscuits (which should have come out of the oven about the same time as the gravy started to thicken)....JR really likes his Biscuits & Gravy, so he gets 3!

And finally, top with your gravy.....the more flour you add, the thicker it will be....the longer it sits and cools, the thicker it will be....it's really a tummy pleasing breakfast you can tailor make for your own family....ENJOY!

Happy Trails,

February 26, 2009


I was invited by a good friend to join Facebook....it's a social networking site, for those of you out of the 'know'....I put it off for quite some time because I just don't have a lot of time to spend online, but I finally buckled down and did it....I have to admit this Facebook is a shnazy little thing! In no time flat I was able to link up with a large group of my former Marines, High School punks, and Horse Show buddies! It's fantastic! It's got me thinking about how easy it will be to get together for reunions and other events, catch up with old friends, and chit chat with family! Of course this blog is still more up to date than anything else regarding our families trials and tribulations, however, as far as social networking capabilities go it doesn't even come close to what Facebook offers....if you have an account, please add me!

Happy Trails,

February 23, 2009

3 Generations....

...of ladies on horseback!

That's something you don't witness very often, now is it?! For the first time, Little Brat, Gma Kathy and I were all on horseback together, riding in the outdoor arena....Little Brat was astride Bo, Gma Kathy was astride Potter, and I was astride big ole' Clementine! It was fun and scary and exciting all at once! I'm still a bit on the nervous side about the Little Brat at the wheel, but Bo takes good care of her....it's just her incessant desire to GO FAST that makes a mommy want to jump out of her skin!

Of course I did not get any pictures, as I was on a horse and all...and an ornery one at that....so you'll just have to imagine the cuteness!

A family that rides together, stays together...

Happy Trails!

February 22, 2009

Bathroom Remodel: IT'S DONE!

Kate & Company worked all day Thursday and well into the night on Friday to make our bathroom the comfortable and relaxing country retreat we were wishing for....and they nailed it! The freshness of the soft green walls ( I think the true color is a little hard to see in these pics, but trust me, it's PERFECT!)....the country feel of the tall, bright wainscoting....the finishing touches like crown moulding and shelves with knick knacks....they even painted our oak medicine cabinet white, which gives the impression it is a cabinet custom made for that wall....it all came together and we could not be happier!
Here are some really dramatic before and after pics for you to wrap your mind around....although Kate and Company did not have to start at the very beginning of this project (they may have very well ran for the hills wild eyed and forever disturbed), they did jump in just in time to bring it all full circle for us!



My poor bedroom....we have stripped it down to decorate the Living Room and Bathroom and now I need to spend some time getting it fixed back up...or better yet, maybe Kate does!
Happy Home Improvement!

February 19, 2009

Bathroom Remodel: HERE WE GO!

Some of you may remember our recent Living Room Project. For those of you that don't, you can click on that link and get caught up on all the fun and excitement that was had!

This time around, we have a bit more work to get to our final goal....this bathroom has issues....deep, worrisome, atrocious, inferiority, gross issues....You can say we had to break this one down to the core in order to build it back up to something that brings us to a happy place....a place you would feel joy and peace and total delight....a place barren of mold, mildew, stinky stinkiness, dirt, grime, and sorrow....follow along as we blaze this trail together!!!

Where did we start? Well, about here.....this is the jetted soaking tub that was installed below floor level as you walked in....a real show piece in its time I'm sure! Not exactly the country tub we had in mind though....

Along the same wall, and to the left of the tub you find some built in shelves, a shower, and the toilet...Yes, that is green carpet in this here bathroom....without a door on this shower, that carpet soon became the choice location for mold and mildew to live...they came from miles around!

Finally, we peek around all the way to the left as we enter the room and find a quaint little sink, with a couple antique pieces to comfort it....Simple and sweet, but not near enough counter space or mirror for a full family to share...this IS the main full bath in the home....in order to reach the other full bath, you have to climb a 3rd flight of stairs....so we need to make this little space as functional as possible for the lot of us!

So, we started by ripping up the flooring and tub...

Then we ripped out the shelving, shower and toilet!

And finally we ripped out that sweet little pedestal sink and stripped all the wallpaper off the walls....we lost the antiques to the previous owners....wah!

We made some repairs to the drywall that you cannot see....updated plumbing and electric...applied about 94857298374 coats of KILZ....closed the door, and let it sit...and sit...and sit until all trace of the odors, stains, and scorn were gone! During that time, we did trek up these steep-a$$ stairs multiple times a day to get to the second full bath in the house...my booty has never been tighter! TMI? Sorry! Even so, we looked forward to getting this bathroom operational again so we didn't have to make that climb!

Well, we finally got a tub, a shower, a toilet, and a sink installed...and even functioning! We even put down a nice vinyl flooring that is easy to clean up.....and that's about as far as we've gotten...functional, but not very pretty!!!! That's where Kate comes in! Kate is my twin sister in home decoration....except with the time, talent and resources to actually do it...a family member asked me a great question..."Why don't you just do it yourself?"....One would think that if Kate is merely implementing my own ideas and style, that I would be saving a lot of money to just do it myself! That may be partially accurate, but what she is saving ME is so much more!

  • TIME being the biggest savings....I work a 40-50 hr week close to an hour away from home. My second job requires me to spend a lot of time working outside in and around our equestrian facilities....My animals need exercise and attention.....My toddler requests some quality time with her Mommy...and my husband is becoming more of a stranger to me every day! That doesn't even take into consideration the training and certification classes and studies I am involved in on a regular basis....Yes, TIME is a major factor...Kate answers that by getting the job done when I just don't have the time to do it....and normally while I am at work so I get to come home a fresh and new view of my home!
  • EFFORT is another big savings by hiring Kate....it takes a large amount of effort to organize resources, pick out, pick up and apply paint, wainscoting, crown molding, etc...I get exhausted just thinking about it! You see, I am freakishly indecisive! Kate is not afflicted with this disease I battle...Therefore, she is able to make quick decisions and implement them before I could even hope to narrow down my options to 3498573487!!!!! She's AMAZING!
  • MONEY is a wash for me....because I usually take many more attempts to reach my goal than she does, I am saving money by not having to redo things I have done and decide later I do not like....case in point is our bathroom wainscoting....we put it up ourselves...I am not too big to admit it is atrocious...no lie....now she has to redo it....not going to make that mistake again! Kate will also work with us on payments....so even in this depressed economy where we are all feeling the pinch, we are able to work out a payment plan that enables us to get the work done, and get her paid in a timely manner too....it's a win-win!
So, Kate and her crew are at the house today and tomorrow working their magic...I am beside myself to get home and see the progress! Stay tuned for some super cool AFTER pics!!!

Happy Home Improvement,

February 17, 2009

Beautiful Horses: POTTER

This is Gma Kathy's horse, Potter...he is a Quarter Horse Gelding trained in the reining discipline...more familiar with Dressage maybe? Then consider reining EXTREME Dressage, if you will....high energy, high performance, high skill level, and high confidence required! The speed at which most maneuvers are performed will make your toes curl and eyes cross....if you're lucky!

He's fat and hairy this time of year, but once the summer months roll around he gets as sleek and shiny as a new copper penny...ain't he purty?

Gma Kathy is one lucky lady! We need to get some current video together of this team in action....here's a short clip of some spinning actions some time back. I'll add more this summer...stay tuned!

Happy Trails!

Our Valentine Retreat....

DISCLAIMER: I once again forgot my fancy shmancy camera on a very significant outing!!! These pics were taken with my handy Moto phone....It does a good job in a jam.

JR and I don't spend a lot of time alone or away from all the rush and responsibility of the farm....this Valentine's Day, we decided to do something different....we arranged for Gma Kathy and Uncle Travis to hold down the fort and keep an eye on the Little Brat....we packed our bags and we headed to Charlottesville for a weekend away! Looking back, we determined this could actually be the first trip we have taken in the 6 yrs we have spent together ALONE!!! Life has a way of bogging you down, I guess.....so we were in much need of an opportunity to stop, take a step back from everything and everyone, and spend some quality time with each other.....what a concept!!! I'm not sure what took us so long, but we are committed to doing something like this every few months from here on out.....the experience was priceless.

We stayed at he Omni Hotel in downtown Charlottesville. It was the most interesting building....designed in a triangle shape.....the rooms rooms were nice, but I thought the greatest part of our stay was the service...the concierge and staff were top notch! They really made us feel like VIPs!

The Omni sat at the end of the Historic Downtown Mall. From there, we were able to walk up and down the Mall, visiting lots of great shops and boutiques.....there was even a Cupcake Store solely dedicated to the creation of the most tastiest little cakes you ever met! This Mall is unique because you would normally find a street up the center, with shops on either side..however, this mall is for pedestrians ONLY! So that leaves plenty of space for musicians, vendors, dancers, and lots of other entertainment and activities to set up.....Here is a view from the end back towards the Omni...

We paused to pose in front of a memorial as we toured the Mall....we would later visit the homes of two of the men named above us...James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
After we got some exercise on the Mall, we made our way to Monticello (Home of Thomas Jefferson), less than 10 minutes away! We walked the grounds and took in some amazing sights....JR loves him some history, and I have a great appreciation for things from days gone by, so it was a really great experience! Here is JR on the steps to the rear of the home....he loves those columns, but I am more of a 'wrap-around-porch' kinda girl....

We stopped to view the 1 miles garden that grew all the vegetables that were needed to feed Thomas Jefferson, his family, and his staff! That's a lot of rows to hoe!!!!

The in-home tour was so exciting! It was furnished with period furniture and artwork...ANTIQUES! It was a guided tour and our orator was a very knowledgeable man with many great stories to tell that made the experience a memorable one....HISTORY! Truly a fun time for us BOTH! (Antiques + History) The gadgets that Thomas Jefferson implemented throughout his home and work were also extraordinary....I cannot even begin to list them all...I highly recommend you go see for yourself, if given the opportunity!
We finished our historical tours with Montpelier, (Home of James Madison). This home is currently in restoration...the foundation responsible for its' restoration has spent about 24M so far in construction...all of which comes from donations!!! That's some serious fund raising! This tour was unique because we got to self tour the entire home (unlike Monticello where we were kept on a tight leash thru specific parts of the home)......that meant we could visit all the areas that peaked our curiosity....In particular, the basement! We wanted to see how it compared to our own home, and found it comforting to see the same type construction and flooring in Montpelier that we have in Westwood....Heart Pine flooring, hand cut.....large rough cut beams....it gave us inspiration and excitement for our own place and what we have yet to accomplish in its restoration....I did not get any pics of Montpelier because my phone died.....but the porch looks almost identical to Jefferson's portico above! They had similar tastes in French/Colonial style.

Finally, our single most favorite guilty pleasure over the entire weekend....The Pointe Restaurant in the Omni Hotel! Yes, there may have been 30 some places to eat within walking distance of the hotel....but who needs to walk when you have the best at your doorstep? We ate breakfast and dinner here each day and the food was phenomenal...we agreed it was our best overall experience to date....the servings were HUGE...the food was FRESH....and the taste was OUTSTANDING....I had a salmon dinner and JR had beef, as usual....I do not recall the names or sauces or much of anything other than the fact we went back and had the same thing every night! LOL.....

I am curious though.....why did the waiter laugh at me when I asked him what a Mimosa was? Am I the only one on the planet that looked puzzled when he asked if I would like one?
Now we are home, and settled back in the grind....I'm already looking forward our next outing tho....this Mommy-Daddy-Only experience was a great idea!
Happy Trails!

February 11, 2009

A pain in the old man's neck...

NO, I am not referring ME! I thoroughly spoil this man to the ends of the earth....the only pain I could possibly cause him is the ache in his heart when I am not near.....hmph

I am talking about THIS kind of pain in the neck....the surgery kind....He went in Monday afternoon and came home Tuesday in great spirits tho....he had some bone spurs on his vertebrae that were on his 'last nerve' and causing him a great amount of discomfort! His Doc went in there, shaved them off, and stitched him back up like 'almost new' again.....

And just in case you still question how good he has it, just take a look for yourself! Recliner, check! Remote Controls, check! Back support pillow, check! Blankie, check! And don't forget the sympathy inducing hospital wrist bands too....how's a man to drum up a heaping serving of sympathy without the constant visible reminder of his most recent convalescence???? I tell you what....

Happy Health!

February 10, 2009


....is a wondeful thing!

Happy Trails,


February 05, 2009

Times Up! The names are in...

WOW, we got some really great ideas from everyone for naming Fiddles 3 Amigos! Lots of great emails and responses to our previous post too! I hate to have to chose at all....I really wish she had about 10 more kids so we could have used every one of them! There were so many good ones to chose from, but a couple really stood out from the rest...One of you came up with a super special way to honor Papa Banjo by naming the kids using letters in his name...and a couple different people actually offered up perfect names, without knowing it, that accomplished that!

SO, announcing our bouncing baby boys....In memory of BANJO.

and Little JOe....

The little girl was even MORE difficult to name....We finally decided on a name along the lines of the musical influence of her parents though, and we think it's perfectly fitting....althout I must admit that "Fiddlesticks" came in a very close 2nd!

Announcing our beautiful baby girl....

Amanda-Lynn...(get it? A Mandolin? hehe)

Now everyone has a proper name! Thanks again for all your wonderful suggestions, and stay tuned for lots of updates!

Happy Trails,

The 'Olden Days'...

Seeing the Little Brat up there on that big horse has caused me to reflect on days gone by...when I was just a tyke myself, and how my own mother must have felt with each step of progress I made....

Here is a pic of my itsy, bitsy, teeny, tiny, waif of my mom in her showing days...

Here is a pic she took of me, on what could be the same horse...Probably running the same hopes for me through her head that I run through mine for Randi....funny how history repeats itself....I hope I make her as proud as Randi makes me....

Happy Trails!

February 04, 2009

Her first ride...

Meet Bo! Bo is an aged (nearing his 20's) Quarter Horse Gelding. He is owned by one of my former 4-Hers, Amanda.....Amanda and her family have graciously allowed us to lease Bo so the brats have a good, reliable horse to learn to ride on....Originally we had purchased Clementine for that purpose, but she just isn't quite consistent enough under saddle yet....she is something they are going to have to work up to, and Bo's just the guy to get them there! Talk about quiet, forgiving, and kind! Bo carried Little Brat around on her very FIRST ride ALL BY HERSELF last night.....and he helped make it a positive experience she will never forget!

I am such a proud Mama....Pinki-Dinki-Doo (tucked away in my coveralls) was even there to witness this memorable event!

I got her situated with the reins....reminded LB of her stop, go and turn cues.....and off she went! The last time she used this saddle was a little over a year ago in a leadline class, and I was taken back a bit when I had to drop her stirrups about 6 inches! She has grown so much! I wish she'd slow down a little!!! Mommy isn't ready for her to grow up so quickly...

So with a baby kick of the heels, Bo carried her off....all on her little lonesome....with no mind whatsoever to Mom's skipping heart, shaking hands and slowly oncoming anxiety attack!

I had no idea that my somewhat timid child of years past, had become such a confident little equestrian! This is the same child that would worry when we were riding together if I turned too fast....Now, she wants to know why he won't go FASTER! Good boy Bo, you are taking great care of her...don't listen to her senseless demands.....walking is all Mommy can handle right now...

Lordsy Mercy, NEXT thing I know she is asking for a jump! Doesn't she know Mommy's need TIME to adjust to having their little brats riding all independently, out of their reach, beyond their control, and completely at the will of a 1K animal??? JUMP??? Well, OK, but let's start LOW.....really, really, really, LOW...Yeah, this will do....
As they neared the end of the ride (LB could have ridden all night, but Mommy was turning into a popsicle about this time), one of our boarders arrived to load her horse up to take a lesson at a nearby stable...Bo and Randi both wanted to go with her...so they watched in envy as they loaded up and drove away....I promised them that if they practiced hard at home, they they could haul to another stable someday too....I may have just commited myself to becoming a horse show mom, but I'm cool with that.....I think.....ask me about it in 10 years....

Ole Bo got a heaping amount of love and appreciation for his part in making LB's first ride a great one....I have a feeling these two are going to be very, very, very best friends! Now, I just have to start getting LB used to the fact she has to share Bo with her big sister, who is also learning to ride....I'll break that news on a different day though...no need to spoil the moment :)

Happy Trails!
PS....A special THANK YOU to Ms. Vickie, who made the ride so much more fun by playing cat and mouse around the arena with these two! Also, for taking our Mommy-Daughter pic! You're the best!

February 01, 2009

Fancy Update: 30 days Training!

Yesterday marked 30 days that Fancy has been at the reining trainer up in Maryland. Gma Kathy and I took a road trip up to see her progress...We missed a turn along the way and had to straighten ourselves out, which was GOOD thing....when we got back on the right highway, we ran smack into a multi-car pileup! We must have missed it by the exact amount of time it took us to make that wrong turn and then get back on track...talk about SCARY! Gma Kathy is a nurse, so she got out of the car to administer aid, if necessary, to the man trapped inside the overturned vehicle....seemed like forever until a police officer arrived and took control of the scene...and the paramedics still had not shown up by the time we left.....I hope everyone was OK...

Back to the subject of Fancy....the rest of the road trip was uneventful, and we arrived at the trainers safe and sound....we met with assistant trainers Wayne, Billy, and Julian for a bit...then Julian went to go get the princess from her stall to groom and tack her up...she was sweet and quiet as ever...one of the first things I noticed was that she was not pacing her stall as she did when I left her....so it seems she has settled in nicely....she still appreciates her hair done too!

Once tacked up, Julian made his way to the indoor arena for her daily work-out....some noticeable improvements were her more immediate transition to the lope and "Whoa" when cued....great progress! One thing on the not-so-great side is her apparent disdain for other horses in her personal space...we expected to learn a little more about her personality as her training progressed, and this is just one of those things....when in close proximity to another horse in the pen, she pins her ears in a defensive manner....although ugly to look at, she did not take it any further to bite or kick at the other horses, so we all feel that this is something they will work out in training by riding her in lots of 'traffic' (around other horses) as often as possible...overall, I was very pleased with her progress....Julian is doing a great job so far!

Here is video of Fancy working to the left....

Here is video of Fancy working to the right....

After her work-out, it was back to the barn to un-tack...

And then back to her stall for some R&R....she walked right into her stall (the same stall we had to back her into when she arrived due to her protests) and started picking at some hay on the ground....

Looking forward to our next visit in another 30 days to see how much more she has learned!

Happy Trails,