Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween Muffin Tin Monday

I had so much fun with this muffin tin.  I actually made it a while back - I just got so excited when I had the ideas that I had to make it right away.
 Homemade spaghetti in an orange jack o'lantern bell pepper (idea for this came from an old Taste of Home), a pumpkin sugar cookie (in a Halloween muffin liner), meatball eyeballs, and breadstick witch's fingers.
How seriously cute is the bell pepper?  Pierce loved this meal so much.  He ate really well and even ate a good bit of the bell pepper, even though he'd never had an orange one before.

This post is linked with Muffin Tin Mom and Halloween Traditions at Jdaniel4smom.

My giveaway for BumEase diaper rash spray ends tomorrow - don't forget to enter here!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Annual Pumpkin Patch Pictures

We've been going to the pumpkin patch every year since Pierce was just a year old.  This year was no exception, but this was the first time I've gone without backup - Paul was running a race that day.

Pierce wanted to do the corn maze first.  The lines to get the maps were long (actually, the lines everywhere were long) so I had this idiotic bright idea that we could just skip getting a map and go on in.  Forty five minutes and two screaming two year olds later, we emerged from Phase 1 of the corn maze.  Needless to say, we didn't go into Phase 2.  

Then Pierce wanted to do the cow train.  I had the lofty idea that the three boys could ride the train while I snapped pictures.  This didn't work out, as Cort and Reid started screaming as soon as I got them in the seats.  So I climbed into the tiny cow train barrel and the twins piled on top of me.  Have you ever sat in one of those barrels?  They are not exactly spacious.  But we survived, and I even managed to snap a picture of Pierce, who sat in the barrel in front of us:

Of course immediately afterwards the twins wanted to go again.  But we settled for tire swings instead:

And tire climbing.  This is one of my favorite pictures of all 3 boys from the past year -

After that, it was on to climbing spiderwebs.  We had to evacuate after Pierce, caught up in his role of spider, told a little girl he was going to sting her and I quickly whisked him away before he went in for the bite.

The mini corn maze is one of the favorite parts of the pumpkin patch.  It's short and designed for small kids.  Two years ago, Pierce ran through it over and over again.  This year, Reid was Pierce reincarnated.  I caught him making the run from one side to the next, and with the rays of the setting sun on him he kind of looks like a little glowing corn ghost, doesn't he?

The corn crib - always a good place to get corn into tiny crevices for the next two weeks or so...

And finally the jumping pillow.  Pierce is front and center.  He didn't stay on for his full 10 minutes because he was focused on getting some kettle corn.  The line for the kettle corn took 30 minutes.  As you might imagine, that did me in.
We took our kettle corn and called it a day, munching happily the whole way home.  What's your favorite part of the pumpkin patch?

Be sure to enter my giveaway for BumEase diaper rash spray here!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday!

So Pierce turned 5 on Monday.  We don't do big parties, but we do make birthdays special.  The festivities began with cupcakes at school!  My mom, the twins, and I showed up early to eat lunch with Pierce and his class.  I let Pierce buy his lunch and he was thrilled (even though he didn't eat much).  Then we had the pumpkin spider ring cupcakes I made -

On Saturday, we invited family over.  We smoked a couple of our chickens and had a feast, followed by Bob the Builder cake.  Pierce wanted Diego and Baby Jaguar cake, but he's had every version of Diego cake out there, so we went with something different.  Sadly, after I got the bill for this cake it looks like I'll now be making our birthday cakes in future years.  I just can't see shelling out $25 for a cake again - even if it was very tasty (plus, they spelled Pierce's name wrong!).  

A stomach bug has been going around Pierce's class at school, so we decided to let him blow out the candle on his individual piece of cake, just in case we were incubating something.  

Then Pierce had a few presents to open.  Many thanks to Cat Cat and Pop Pop, Uncle John, and Pam and George who all had gifts for Pierce.
Pierce had such a good time that he cried when it was time for family to go home.  They certainly make his life so special!

Check out my giveaway for BumEase diaper rash spray here!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bum Ease Diaper Rash Spray Review and GIVEAWAY!!

Last summer when I was at Type A Con touring through the tables of various sponsors and businesses, one of the products that really intrigued me was Bum Ease diaper rash spray.  With the twins still in cloth diapers and Cort's sensitive skin, I'm always looking for good solutions to diaper rash.  Bum Ease was nice enough to send me a sample a couple of months ago, and I've been very pleased.

The active ingredient in Bum Ease is zinc oxide and it is allergen and perfume free.  The genius in it is that you don't have to put it on your hands and it's a much lighter version.  Furthermore, if you've got a baby with a tender bottom, you don't have to add to the soreness by rubbing in an ointment - the spray is so gentle.  It's so easy to just grab and spray - no lids to fumble unscrewing while trying to hold a wily child on the changing table.  The twins actually love the spray - they laugh when I use it.  Cort, who is very sensitive to sore bottoms, often requests the spray during diaper changes, so I think it must feel soothing to him.

Here's a picture of my hand after one squirt of the spray.  You can see it offers a light, even spray which is easily absorbed into the skin.  I didn't even have to wash my hands after this - I just rubbed it in - it's that light.  Of course you can coat as heavily or lightly as needed.
We used the spray as a preventative for our trip to the Cass Scenic Railroad, which is a 3 hour drive each way.  It's such a small bottle that it's easy to pack for trips on the road.  Often, the twins will be prone to diaper rash on long car rides, but I'm happy to report we didn't have any issues this trip!

As you know, I do use cloth diapers at home when we're not running around.  I did test this using the cloth diapers, and it didn't leave bad residue like the time I accidentally used an ointment.  However, I'm kind of hypervigilant about any buildup, so while I don't think it'd be a big deal to use it once in a while straight on with cloth diapers, I will use a liner the majority of the time, just to be extra careful.

Don't you just love a product that makes your Mom-life easier?  This is definitely one of them!  Bum Ease has been kind enough to offer a giveaway of their diaper rash spray for one lucky reader!  This would make an excellent gift for a new mom - it truly does make diaper changes easier.  If you'd like to enter for a chance to win, just leave a comment to that effect.  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Winner will be chosen by and has 48 hours to respond.  Please provide your email address if it is not visible in your profile.  Giveaway ends November 1 at noon.

You can find Bum Ease on twitter and Facebook.  They just launched in August so they'd love your support!  You can also purchase Bum Ease at Kerr Drug stores.

Disclaimer:  I received a free bottle of Bum Ease.  The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spookley the Square Pumpkin Recycled Tissue Box Halloween Craft

If you have kids, you're probably familiar with the cute story of Spookley, the Square Pumpkin.  It's long been a fall favorite in our house.  This year we decided to make our own Spookley, using items we found around the house.

Our supplies were an empty tissue box (yay, recycling!), a glue stick, some orange foam sheets (you could also use orange construction paper, or you could also have your child paint the box orange) and some green construction paper.

I gave Pierce a choice between drawing the pumpkin face himself or letting me draw it.  He asked me to draw it, because he wanted the pumpkin to look just like Spookley.  Once the face was drawn, Pierce glued the foam sheets and stuck them to the Kleenex box.  On the top piece, we had two orange pieces, so we could tuck a piece of the green stem underneath for added security.  Then we curled the green stem around like Spookley's.
A quick and easy craft - that ended up being a puppet as well due to the opening from the Kleenex!  Pierce really liked his Spookley the Square Pumpkin puppet!

This post linked with the Halloween crafts at Jdaniel4smom's blog.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday Pierce (Muffin Tin Monday)

Today Pierce is The Big Five years old.  Lucky for him, it's a teacher/conference day at school, so he gets to have some fun.  We have great plans, including a trip to the science museum, so we did our muffin tin a few days early.  I used the Celebrate plate that I painted, and we had some of Pierce's favorite foods.
Pierce had shrimp (unfortunately, I just bought one of those Gorton's grilled shrimp deals, and it was too spicy for Pierce), kiwi with a jumping dolphin pick, french fries, and steamed asparagus.  Pierce ate everything except the shrimp (next time I'll just buy plain) and he actually had two more servings of asparagus. 

To see more cute lunch ideas, visit Muffin Tin Mom

Friday, October 21, 2011

The October (!) Garden and Growing Little Farmers

 Turns out there are still a few items out in the garden.  Which is excellent.  Tomatillos became massive batches of salsa verde this weekend.  Oddly enough, I totally forgot to put in all the cilantro I bought, but we didn't notice until I found the cilantro in the fridge later.  Turns out it's delicious even without the cilantro!  Paul declared the salsa verde his favorite thing from the garden, even though he totally hates the plants and thinks they're a pain.
 I also picked the last of my second beet crop.  These are those cool striped beets on the insides.  We'll enjoy them roasted one night this week.  And then I'll cry over not having garden fresh beets until next June.

 And finally, we still have a bunch of peppers growing - serrano, bell, and New Mexico Big Jim.  The peppers were all a bit late this year, and I'm hoping our first frost will hold off a bit longer because there are quite a few more bells out there that I'd love to grab if they get big enough.

Oh yes, and not to forget the little farmers we're growing too.  This picture was taken just seconds before a shoving match that resulted in both boys on the floor.  You'd never really know they're twins, would you?

This post linked with Farm Friend Friday at Verde Farm.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Obvious Inadequacies as a Mother

Last night I was busy packing lunch for Pierce.  Even though every day he begs and pleads to buy lunch at school.  Despite the fact that I put forth a great deal of effort to pack him cute and interesting lunches each day.

Exhibit A:  Cute bear bento lunch box.
Inside is a cheese and roast beef sandwich on goldfish shaped bread with mustard.  A Halloween pick with olives (one of Pierce's favorite things).  Slices of kiwi, a muffin cup liner of Inca roasted corn, and a small dog bento cup with 2 Junior Mints.  I mean, this is a decent kid's lunch, is it not?  I try!

So I'm busy putting together Pierce's lunch and he comes over and says, "Mom!  Can you make some pumpkin fudge?"

"Pumpkin fudge?  Where have you had pumpkin fudge?"

"At school.  Sean's mom sent pumpkin fudge for our snack.  Can you send pumpkin fudge for our snack?"

Me, trying to buy time, because not only do I not know how to make pumpkin fudge, but I also deplore anything that involves the use of a candy thermometer, "Well, our snack turn isn't until November."

"Yeah, but when it's our snack turn can you send pumpkin fudge?"

"I was kind of thinking about sending yogurt.  And...uh... homemade granola bars."

"How about just pumpkin fudge?"

"What if it's Dora yogurt?"

"Dora yogurt might be okay.  With pumpkin fudge"

I am in so much trouble.  Also, please let there be no mothers that make homemade baklava or chocolate souffles for class snacks between now and November 14th.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Swap!

I love the excitement of Fall in the air as Halloween rolls around, so I was thrilled to see my swap box in the haphazard shed where our mail lady often puts packages that don't fit in the mailbox.  My swap partner was Katie from Life With the D's.  She did cute things with decorative tissue paper - the sort of thing I'd love to do for a swap only I am completely gift-wrapping-challenged.

She sent me 4 pumpkin faced blocks, which she made herself.  Cute, huh?  I already had one compliment on them!  She also sent a pumpkin tart warmer with scented tarts, a vanilla scented rod diffuser, a pumpkin scented candle, a box of Junior Mints already gone, and a bag of Halloween chocolate also already gone.
Thanks, Katie!  And thanks to the hosts of the Halloween Swap, Living a Goddess Life and My So Called Chaos.

How about you, reader?  You got any fun Halloween decorations at your house?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

There's ANOTHER Mouse in my Car!

It's a colony!  Maybe you remember last week when I blogged about the mouse in my minivan?  If not, go here to catch up.  Well, I caught the first mouse and I thought I was good to go.  But I had a sneaking suspicion.  I think I could feel little mousy eyes watching me when I drove.  I know what you're thinking.  Oh, but mice, they're just so cute.  You're getting all The Mouse and the Motorcycle or An American Tale on me, aren't you? 
 Well, trust me.  Fievel this mouse is not.  He's more like the Evil Knievel of mice.  He has a lot of tricks up his furry little paws.  He totally ignores the humane mouse trap I set.  So I put out another glue trap and baited it with Pop Tarts.  And a french fry.  Because I know he likes them - his nest was full of them if you remember.  So last weekend he got snagged in the glue trap.  But did that stop him?  Oh no.  He dragged the glue trap across the car to a floor based seat belt.  Then he used those wily little paws to scurry himself right off the glue trap and off to wherever he goes since I vacuumed up his nest.  And my seat belt?  Shredded.
Luckily, it's not one that we're using right now, but we will be when the twins switch to booster seats in the future.  I'm guessing it'll cost me plenty to fix too.

I'm not sure I want to try my hand at glue traps anymore.  I'm thinking about sticking one of our cats in the car with a litterbox for the night.  It's either that or poison.  And somehow, I'm not crazy about the idea of having poison in my car - what with 3 little boys and all.  Anyone else got any bright ideas?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breaking out the Cold Weather Foods Muffin Tin Monday

Ah Fall.  It makes me dip into the comfort foods.  Good thing my boys seem to love soups so much.  

We had some green grapes, New Mexico style cornbread (it has green chilis, sour cream, cheddar and corn in the batter) and my Southern Style black eyed peas - for which you can find the recipe here.  They are quite healthy and economic, have lots of flavor, and the recipe makes a large amount.

If you'd like to see more ideas for kids' meals, go visit Muffin Tin Mom

Friday, October 14, 2011

Twenty Signs You're Living the Rural Life

It's Friday so I thought I'd have a little fun.  Most of the things on this list I've experienced personally, albeit a few items are totally slightly exaggerated.

Google Image

1.  Your road has a number.  And the road that connects to your road has another route number.  And the road that connects....well, you get the point.
2.  The color of your car is no longer cerulean blue - you've renamed it "Gravel Gray".
3.  You've baled a black snake when getting up hay.
4.  You spend half of your year mowing.  The other half of the year you spend chopping wood.
5.  You've lived without water during electricity outages and droughts.
6.  You know 40 different detours to get home in case of flooding.
7.  You are your neighbor's cows-donkeys-goats-horses home-away-from-home whenever their fence goes down.
8.  You've foraged for food on your own land - berries, mushrooms, apples, walnuts, etc.
9. You own bib overalls.  And you don't just wear them for Halloween.
10.  You didn't leave your house for two months that winter the snow plows forgot about you.
11.  You've bought organic blood before and you're not even a vampire.
12.  You live so far out that you've never had a trick-or-treater.
13.  If there are four clouds in the sky your cell phone goes on strike and won't work.
14.  You've never had pizza delivered.
15. The frogs are so loud at night in the summer you need ear plugs to sleep.
16. You've never seen all the parts of your property.  Who has the time?
17. Your mail carrier drives an old beat up brown car with a magnetic light strapped to the top by reaching over from the passenger seat.
18.  When the speed limit is 45, people either interpret that as drive 15 mph or drive 80 mph, depending on how fast their truck will go.
19.  Hunting season is a county-wide holiday that lasts 4 months.  Real employment is discouraged during this time.
20.  You have yet another mouse in your car (post coming soon!).

Okay, folks, what did I miss?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Children Inspire Designs Handcrafted Bird Ornaments - A Review

When I first checked out Children Inspire Design and started reading about their mission, I immediately fell in love with their products and their philosophy.  A grassroots cooperative program called PEACE helps women from semi-rural, economically challenged areas in Mexico and Haiti transcend their lives of poverty through bringing them art and hope, mostly created using recycled materials. In addition to products like journals and wall prints, they have the most wonderful bird mobiles -

I was drawn to these handcrafted bird ornaments, beautifully created by their artist Rebecca.  Birds and flight represent hope and freedom.  I thought to myself these whimsical little birds are a powerful symbol.  And then I thought of our Christmas tree.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you might remember that our Christmas tree is full of sentimental ornaments.  We try to have ornaments representing various family members and events, that have been passed down or handmade.  Each year as we unpack the ornaments, we talk about what each one represents.  How perfectly these little birds would fit on our tree - not only to remind us of our family commitment to recycling and conserving where possible, but also to be socially conscious to the world around us. 

And it occurred to me that part of being socially conscious is sharing a product that you love and that aids disadvantaged communities.  So Pierce and I decided that we wanted to share two of our treasured bird ornaments with the teachers of his Pre-K program.  It's a federally funded program in a rural community, and many of the children come from lower income families.  The Children Inspire Design moto is "Inspire Children. Save the World" and I think that's something Pierce's two teachers are embracing every single day in their classroom.

Please go check out the products at Children Inspire Design.  They would make wonderful and unique gifts for the holidays!  As for our little red bird, he's going to hang out in an honored spot just above the kitchen sink until our Christmas tree goes up in December.

Disclaimer - I was sent a set of 3 bird ornaments in exchange for this review.  All of the opinions expressed are my own.  And truly, I love being able to work with a company that is not only earth conscious but also socially (and globally) active and responsible - it warms my heart to have a product in my hands that I really believe in, and that represents so much more than just a material good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vinton Fall Festival 5K Race Report

If you've been reading my race reports for a while, you know I've had a discouraging year.  Coming back from injury (and, for that matter, having twins) is hard.  I almost didn't run this race, but in the end my friend Steve talked me into it by telling me what a fun and fast race it was.

I picked up my race packet and walked back to my car, where I sat for a while trying to warm up.  It was a misty and cool morning, which was bad for waiting but good for the running part!  The race packet had one of the oddest hodgepodge of goodies I've ever seen.  I mean I don't typically get a dog treat in my race packet.  Luckily, I also got a toothbrush, so at least I could brush my teeth after fueling up for the race with a dog biscuit.  Okay, so truthfully I saved the dog biscuit for Scooter, who really loved it.

The race started right on time.  I went out fast and tried to hold.  The mist was so thick you couldn't see much at one point.  I loved that!   There were no mile markers and I didn't wear a watch, so I just ran by heart.  The course is really quite flat - there are some small grades but nothing that could actually qualify for a hill.

At the halfway point I kind of realized I was the third female.  And that there were two other females on my tail, so I'd better hold strong and push if I wanted to hold my lead.  I was hoping the two females behind me weren't planning to run a negative split, because I knew I couldn't go any faster.  Getting an overall award is really rare for me, as I'm not very fast, but if there's an opportunity it does motivate me to perform well.  Luckily, this race I didn't have anything holding me back - no asthma, no nausea, no side stitch.  I just felt great and I dug deep and ran.

I was thrilled to cross the finish line in 23:20.  That's not a PR for me, but it's a significant improvement from where I've been. The race may have been short - I wouldn't be surprised because I was really expecting to run in the 24 minute range.  But the one lady's Garmin I checked did say 3.11.  And in the end, I was the 3rd overall female, so I got a very nice plaque plus two $15 Road ID gift certificates.
While it's always exciting to get an award, I care a lot more about my performance in comparison to myself (because really whether you get an award or not is just based on how fast the other people are who show up for the race on any given day!).  And regardless of whether the race was short or not, I feel like I ran strong and I felt good during this race, so that's a great boost for my running self-confidence, at a time when I need it.  And now I have to decide if I want to try to attempt the 10 miler later this month.  I'm still on the fence, as I'm really not trained for it.  Ha ha, I guess we'll all find out in a few weeks, huh?

Alison Hart contacted me yesterday and said that she was thrilled with the response to her book giveaway, and she would be happy to give away two copies of her book!  So hooray for two winner, and thanks to Alison!  The winners of Alison Hart's book Risky Chance are Valerie from For the Love of Pete and In the Hammock Blog.  Congrats to Valerie and In the Hammock Blog, and thanks so much to all who entered!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Because Vacuuming Mouse Poop on a Friday Afternoon is on My Short List

Okay, not really.  But one of the drawbacks of living in the country is that come every fall, little critters want to move in.  They see you all toasty and warm and with a pantry packed with goodies, and they think they should waltz over the threshold.  This isn't the first fall that I've had a mouse move into one of our vehicles.  Unfortunately.  You'd think they wouldn't be able to get into cars.  But mice are sneaky.  I guess I'd rather have a mouse than a snake, or a tarantula.

This mouse snuck in when we were in West Virginia.  Those WV mice are total opportunists.  While we were unloading gear to our cabin, doors wide open in the minivan, the mouse saw his chance and took it.  The next morning I found a pack of orange snack crackers open on the floor, scattered about.  Paul doubted me when I said it was a mouse.  But then I pointed out the droppings.

It took 3 different mouse traps.  That's right THREE.  This is one smart mouse folks.  Don't let anyone tell you that WV mice are dumb.  This mouse repeatedly stole snacks from the traps I set without getting hurt.  It was a glue trap that got him in the end.

And so I spent my Friday afternoon thoroughly cleaning the minivan.  And I found his stash.  Just under the stroller.  Little nesty down in the crevice.  Can you spot it?

Ah, yes, a close up.  Is that a french fry in there?  Gag.  Oh, and a spider man sticker too.  Thank goodness for vacuum attachments, right?  And look, a paper clip!  I guess the mouse was setting up office. 

Truly I hope the WV mouse was single.  I hope he didn't bring his family on in when he made his move.  But just in case, there's a couple of glue traps with poptarts baited along the corners of the minivan.

In the meantime....Paul found a roll of paper towels chewed up in his car.  Guess he'll be setting some traps too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guest Posting Today at Good Girl Gone Redneck

Today I'm honored to be guest posting over at Good Girl Gone Redneck.  We've been blogging buddies for a long time now, and this is the second time she's invited me over to her place!  I hope you'll hop over and check her out, plus read my post, which is about friendship.  You can find it here.

Creative Cajun Designs

Comments are off for this post, because I'm really hoping you'll go visit Andrea! 

Don't forget - my giveaway for Alison Hart's newest Horse Diaries release ends tomorrow.  If you haven't entered, go check it out here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

She's Quite An Influence on My Son

I knew when Pierce started a daily Pre-K program that he would be under the influence of other kids more.  I figured he'd come home wanting to watch Star Wars and have light saber battles.  That he might start talking about wizards and magic and asking for a pet owl.  That there might be, at worst, fake shooting and (ungranted) requests for toy guns.  But the influence he fell under was completely unexpected.

The teachers assign the seating on the front of the bus for the younger kids, and Pierce's seat mate is a kindergartner named Jayden.  I've never met her, but Pierce is completely enamored.  Everyday he comes home with stories about Jayden.  It all started with her cell phone.  See, Jayden has a real pink cell phone (according to Pierce).  A pink slider cell phone.  She's 5.  And now all the sudden my son says he's sending me emails on his phone.  He's four.  He never even knew what an email was before!  Jayden doesn't let Pierce play with her real cell phone, but sometimes she brings her purple play cell phone and let's him play with that.

Image courtesy of google
Next thing I know, Pierce gets off the bus and announces, "Jayden shared her snack with me on the bus!".  I said, "I didn't think you were allowed to eat on the bus.  What did you have?"  Pierce is bouncing his backpack, totally hyped up, and says, "I had a tootsie roll!  And goldfish crackers!  And fruit snacks!  And string cheese!"  And my first thought was, has that string cheese been sitting in her backpack unrefrigerated all day long?  And my second thought was, guess you won't need to eat dinner.  So now that I'm up for worst mom of the year award, for not sending bus snacks for my child, I have to try to redeem myself by sending double snacks so that Pierce can share with Jayden.  Only I can't bring myself to pack things like tootsie rolls.  Indeed, I pack healthy snacks.  As you might imagine, this doesn't make Pierce the most popular kid on the bus.  And the day I sent blueberry grammy sammies, Jayden outright rejected them.  Yeah, not sending those again.

Then last week Pierce gets off the bus sporting the HUGEST Winnie the Pooh sticker I have ever seen.  It's so big it wraps all the way around his hand and up his arm.  Wow, that's a big sticker, I tell him.  "Mom, Jayden gave it to me!  And Winnie the Pooh is MY FAVORITE MOVIE EVER!!  Can we watch it today?  Please?!".  Seriously?  Winnie the Pooh?  And here I was worried about Star Wars battles in my house.  Boy was I ever wrong.  But by all means, bring on the Pooh.  That, I can handle.  As long as the Heffalumps don't get me first.
Image courtesy of google

Check out my giveaway for Alison Hart's newest Horse Diaries release here.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zip and Zim - Two Bloggers Vs. Their Horses - Who's Smarter?

This summer I was entertained and sympathetic when reading TexWisGirl's ongoing battle with her horse, Zim.  As the Texas drought threatened her borders, Zim found new methods of escape.  And she found new methods of restraints with some orange webbed fencing.  We have our own escape artist here, Zip, who works hard to try to pull his own Houdini stunts.

I started thinking that Zip and Zim must be long lost cousins.  Similar markings.  Stubborn mindset.  A nose for mischief.  Mmmmhmmm.  Just look at them both, testing their fence boundaries....

Do you see the resemblance?  I think they're trying to outdo one another.  In fact, I think Zip heard through the quarterhorse grapevine about Zim's finagling fence ways.  And he decided to show off.  By learning how to use his teeth to lift the hand grip from the electric fence and open it without shocking himself.  Either that, or someone has been letting out our horses.

Can you imagine what Zip and Zim could accomplish, if the two of them ever met face to face?  Lucky for me (and TexWisGirl), they've got over a thousand miles of distance between them.  Otherwise, pretty sure they'd be on their own episode of Sorrels Gone Wild

Please go visit Run-A-Round Ranch if you haven't and say hi to TexWisGirl.  She was very kind to let me borrow her beautiful photo of Zim for this post!

If you love horses, or know someone who does, be sure to go enter my giveaway for Alison Hart's newest Horse Diaries book here!

This post linked to Farm Friend Friday.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Horse Diaries: Risky Chance Book Review and GIVEAWAY!!

Last Spring author Alison Hart asked me to do a book review and giveaway on two of her horse books.  I so thoroughly enjoyed reading them that when she told me she had a new children's book coming out, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Risky Chance is #7 in the popular Horse Diaries series, which are generally set in the past, at a time when horses often served a larger purpose.  This novel is set during the Great Depression, and Chance is a gray thoroughbred born in California.  The story is narrated from his point of view, in a style reminiscent of Black Beauty.  Things start off well for Chance, even though he is highly spirited and not interested in being trained.  He spends his days prancing through pastures and racing his filly friend Sweet Dreams.

Finally, Chance relents to being broken, and proves himself to be incredibly fast.  He runs his heart out for his jockey Wolf, and Wolf's affectionate daughter, Marie.  But one unfortunate day, a terrible injury removes Wolf from the circuit, and Chance falls into less kind jockey hands.  When a bowed tendon threatens his ability to run, Chance is sold as a claims horse.  In each claims race, all of the horses are for sale at the same price.  The buyer can buy any of the horses before they race, and then afterwards claim them regardless of whether they have won or lost.  With every claims race, Chance's injury worsens, and his heart falls deeper and deeper into despair.  The only one worse off than him is his old friend, Sweet Dreams, who also became a claims horse, and is in terrible shape.

But one day, after Chance races, Marie shows up!  She tells Chance that she has come to claim him, and that she will take him home.  Wolf is damaged too much to ride, but he sold his car to bring Chance home.  Their place isn't much, but Chance has clean water and a bed of hay.  Marie begans tending to Chance's injury and nursing him back to health.  But the pressure is on.  If Chance can't win in the races again, Marie and Wolf will lose their home - he simply must win so that they can pay the bills.  And what about Sweet Dreams?  Will she ever find happiness?

This book is for children in the 8-12 age range, and is just the sort of horse book I would've loved as a child!  After reading this as a kid, I would've rushed out to get the Horse Diaries no doubt!  The back has an appendix full of interesting history and statistics about thoroughbreds.  Furthermore, there are absolutely gorgeous black and white sketch illustrations throughout the book, done by Ruth Sanderson, that your child will love.

You can find out more about Alison Hart by visiting her website here .  She has written over 20 mysteries and historical fiction novels for children and teens.  And she has generously offered to give away one copy of Horse Diaries:  Risky Chance! This would make a great gift for a horse crazy daughter or grandchild! 

To enter, just leave a comment and let me know your email if it isn't visible in your profile.  The giveaway will run through October 11th at noon, when a winner will be chosen by  Winner has 48 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.  This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.  Thanks for entering!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September 2011 Fitness Recap

Well, I knew that the motivation I had in August to fit in so much crosstraining wouldn't last forever.  Realistically, it lasted about two days into September, when I pulled my grumpy lower back (it's been cranky since 1994, when I got bucked off a horse named Judge in a dusty round pen in Texas, and landed smack on my tailbone - since that moment it's been prone to random temper outbursts).  Due to the lower back issues, I completely backed off all that crosstraining I was doing (especially things like Shred and weights) and instead just ran, which doesn't seem to aggravate things.

So the only crosstraining I got in was Shred (once) and an hour of walking with my friend Tiffany (3 times).
My running was good this month though.  I hit the track 3 times.  Above is a picture of my favorite track - it's a crushed red gravel and easy on the joints.  It's kind of in an unsavory neighborhood, but I've been running there for several years now and have never had any trouble (although it drives my Mom a little nuts).  I also ran one race (a 10K).  My total mileage for September was 110 miles.

And now it's October, one of my favorite months for running!  Beautiful leaves, lower temps.  I haven't committed to any races yet, but I'm considering a 5K this month and a 10 miler.  I'm not sure I'm in shape for the 10 miler - I haven't been running 10 mile runs lately.  My longest single run in September was 9 miles.  But it would be good training, so I may just run it anyhow.

How about you?  Any plans to get out and enjoy the fresh air this fall?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Totem Poles on Muffin Tin Monday

It's Muffin Tin Monday and I'm extremely excited this time, because my blogging friend over at Garden of Daisies was kind enough to send the most wonderful package.  I was her 400th follower, and she said she wanted to send me something, but I had no idea she'd find something so fantastic and creative to send!  I'm not the type of person that jumps up and down, but when I opened the box and saw 3 totem pole sets to use for Muffin Tin Monday, I was jumping up and down folks!  I couldn't wait to use them (and you'll have to go ask her where she got them if you're interested, because I've never seen anything like them myself).
 You can turn the little compartments around to make different style totems - note that some sides have faces, and others have hands and feet.  How much fun is that?
The boys each had a totem with apples on top (from our apple trees - yes, our apples have weird black spots that won't wash off on them, but luckily it doesn't affect their taste).  In the middle they had a chicken and broccoli noodle casserole.  On bottom they had a roasted acorn squash.  I finally found a way to cook acorn squash that I love without all that sugar and butter!  Just toss w/ olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake on a baking sheet at 350* for 35 minutes.  Yum!  The boys sure loved their totem poles.

If you'd like more fun ideas for Muffin Tin Monday, go visit Muffin Tin Mom.