Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions??

It's that time of year, when you look back at the last year and what you accomplished (or didn't). A time of reflection and reminders on what's really important in our lives.

Then at some point you turn your focus on the coming New Year. What do I want to accomplish? Often times this turns into - What do I want to give up? Why do we do this to ourselves? I understand the whole concept of "fresh start" and "New Year", but why must we give something up?

Instead, why don't we "add" something! Yes, that's right!!! Add something! What a concept! This addition should not be looked at as a punishment, it should be embraced as a positive action.

For instance, Karen (a friend at work) and I always do a New Year's Resolution. One year we gave up caffeine! YIKES, that was a HORRIBLE IDEA!! G Especially since chocolate has caffeine in it! We took this challenge seriously and I had the 48 hr caffeine withdrawal to prove it!! We lasted from January 1st until the beginning of April. It wasn't really all that hard, once you set your mind to it. After enough whining and I'll admit it was ME!!! Karen agreed to eat a piece of chocolate at the same time and called a truce.

For the last few days we've been trying to decide what we should "give up" this year. Finally I suggested we "add" something instead. That sounds so much more positive and obtainable! So, we started to think about what we could add. Something both obtainable and measurable.

We came up with two ideas and yes, they could be challenging at times, but both meet the above criteria. Karen suggested that we become members of the CPC. Clear Pee Club, which means drinking your suggested 8 - 8 ounce glasses of water each day. We both agreed we can do this and will be sure to monitor our water intact. Easy enough.

The other agreed upon addition is to be sure to do some form of exercise every day. This can be a couple walks around the building, some stretches, swimming, or whatever you chose to do. But just something more than we've been doing to last couple months. It's been so busy at work and cold outside, that this is an area we could improve on. Again, very easy, you just need to be accountable.

So there you have it. Two easy things you could think about ADDING this year, vs taking something away!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Polar Plunge!!!!

Yep, I missed out on the polar plunge in November! I had an agility trial and it was fun, however I do regret missing the "opportunity" to have some fun in the water!!! I thought a November plunge was for "wimps", but temps were in the high 20's and there was a dusting of snow on the ground, so, I guess it counts!!

My sister, Dawn and her triathlon club "Team Beast" went and did a fine job!! They won the "custom" contest, gee I wonder why???



Below is my "Red Neck Sister", Dawn. You can't quite see her coconut bra, but trust me, it's THERE!!!

My nephew, Vaughn, looks like he might have gotten the "brains" of the family as he's sporting a winter coat!! Of course, mixing in well with those ORANGE gloves!!

WAY TO GO VAUGHN!!!!!




Finally time for the PLUNGE!!!!

Most of them are still SMILING!!!!! Or it's the medication??



They sure don't appear to be hanging out in the water and enjoying it!!!

I can only imagine what those people on the boat are thinking!!!





Stay tuned!! I'm bound to find one that fits my schedule in 2009!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Natalie and Peach - Agility With Flare!!!

Sheryl McCormick took some great pictures at the ICDOC Agility Trial a couple weeks ago. She's kindly let me post them here for more people to enjoy! Thanks SHERYL!!!!!


Natalie was 5 in August and Peach is 2. They have been taking agility classes together since Peach was a baby. Well, maybe I should clarify and say they've been taking classes together since they've BOTH been babies! Here they are at their first agility trial together two weeks ago.

One of my favorite Natalie'isms is "The Toss". It makes me smile every time I see it. She flings her lead with STYLE!!! It gives all of the adults something to strive for!

Doesn't she look good in ORANGE!!! Welcome to the Orange People!!!


Then there's the START!

RUN NATALIE, RUN!!!!

The great thing about Peach is she'll wait for Natalie when she gets ahead of her.

Look at this nice running form!

Rhonda is the judge in the background with the vest on. She said it's hard to judge kids as you have to use the same rules as the adults and it's just plan hard when you have to NQ them. Not only that, the crowd doesn't like it either. Not to worry, Natalie was BRILLIANT!

The Dog walk next. Do you love the smile on both of their faces or what!! They are having a blast and bottom line, this is what it's all about!

If you look closely, they are both on one "paw" in this picture. Okay, so Natalie only has two feet, but look at her move! Peach is also hauling the mail as she flies across that dog walk.

FIND YOUR SPOT PEACH!!!

Peaches "spot" is hitting the yellow down side. This is a safety requirement for the dog.



The Table is next. This is where you have the dog either sit or down on the table for a 5 count.

On this day it was a down. Two of the days were "sits" and Natalie has to be careful as Peach will try to lick Natalie right on the face. You're dog can't touch you and you can't touch your dog on the course.

Natalie is sporting her brand new tennis shoes and shoe strings in this picture. Looking good girl!!!




Weave poles are next.

Great entry Peach!!

There are 6 poles in the Novice classes and 12 in the upper level classes.

Now we're on the home stretch!!







Peach finds her "Spot" at the end of the A-Frame and is apparently hoping for a cookie!!!

Sorry Peach, no food or toys allowed in the ring, so you'll have to wait until the end.

Natalie did a great job all weekend making sure Peach executed her contacts correctly.

Just one more jump to GO!!!











One jump to go before the COOKIES!!

I'm not sure which one is in more of a hurry?? Natalie or Peach!

Nice hustle to the end!









WELL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Walking the Course. If you've read the earlier post on Natalie, you'll already have learned that she's a QUICK STUDY!! If it was up to her she's find the cones "once" and be DONE!! But I talked her into being my dog so I could get a little more practice in. Below she's "Janet" the Golden Retriever. I guess she's dressed in the right color! What mother in their right mind would put a 5 year old in YELLOW in a dirt horse area??? MARY????? G




Saturday, December 20, 2008

Baking Day!!!

It's that time of year....everyone is baking!! Well, maybe not EVERYONE...I know Michele doesn't bake, but she does make some WICKEDLY DELICIOUS Rice Krispie Treats. In out world, that's BAKING!! G

A week ago I decided I'd try making some Cinnamon Rolls, a blog that I read on occasion had a repeat article on making the world's most delicious cinnamon rolls and so I thought what the heck. You can check out the recipe at - thepioneerwomen.com/2007/06/cinnamon_rolls_/
Actually, you might want to check this out so you can see the MAJOR differences in her step by step approach and MINE!!!! G

It was one of those "nights"(morning??) where I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. It was 3:15 am, I'm awake and might as well make the best of it. Down side to getting up this early is that I had a "blood work" visit for life insurance at 7:30. Nothing other than water for 12 hrs. That's a LOT easier to do when you're SLEEPING! G Not to mention I'd a pot a day coffee drinker.

I pull out the step by step instructions and begin constructing the world's best cinnamon rolls.

Step 1 - make the dough.

I can honestly say I've tried making bread ONCE!! The yeast didn't like me and it never turned out. I think I probably got too antsy (who me???) and didn't wait for the liquid to cool enough before I added it. Yep, I probably killed it right off. I was not going to make that mistake again!

So, in our "chili" pot I put the one quart of WHOLE MILK (I haven't had whole milk in the fridge since college when my roommate's family had dairy cattle and we got it straight from the teat. Just shake and serve!!!) Anyway, whole, red cap milk, oil and sugar. You were suppose to "Scald" it. The only time I've ever scaled something is MYSELF...getting into tub water that's a LOT hotter than I thought. So, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect here. Just a word of caution, this mixture scalds a LOT faster than you think!

After scalding, you have to wait. Something I'm NOT good at, so I baked some molasses cookies that I'd mix up Friday night while I was waiting. You had to wait 45-60 minutes for it to cool. It could be warm to lukewarm....I was going to be careful, so I waited the hour. In the mean time I thought how nice it would be if I could have a nice cup of coffee!!! UGH!!

I added the yeast, which look like light brown bread crumbs. I wondered where they get this stuff?? But not for long as I had to add 8 cups of flour into that scaled liquid. MORE WAITING!!! Another hour. WOW, do I have a lot of respect for those bread makers! I suppose you aren't suppose to stand around watching it.

During that hour I got my supplies ready for the "fun part", rolling out the dough! You'll notice that the pioneer women has a lot of fancy tools. Fancy stainless steal work space, ergonomically correct rolling pen, a lovely assistant and man with a whisk.

I on the other hand have a 23 year old laminated topped table, an old fashion rolling pen with handles, 3 - 4 legged assistants and an antique potato smasher. The man is still asleep, until he smells the cinnamon rolls of course!

My next step of rolling out the dough required that I have a large flat surface. The table was the only thing I had and it has a couple seams in it. I hate it when stuff goes down into the cracks, so I used tape to "seal" it. I know what you're thinking, DUCT TAPE, but no, I used some masking tape. I didn't want to pull the laminate OFF the table, it's still has another 20 years left.

I got my rolling pen out, put the 1.5 cups of REAL butter in the microwave, put some flour to spread on the table and grabbed my book to finish out the hour of waiting.

I took 1/2 the dough as indicated and rolled it out in a rectangular shape. Okay, so it looked more like the state of Kentucky than Nebraska (consult a map here). Can it really matter than much??

I retrieved my melted "real" butter (remember 1.5 cups!!!) from the microwave and poured it onto KY. Here's where it got a little "dicey". WOW, that is a LOT of butter! WTF!! I'm not sure why I thought I really owed a flat surface. The table at first glance appeared flat. The butter indicated OTHERWISE!!!! It's heading NORTH at MACH SPEED!!!!

Quick, where's the one cup of sugar?? I can use it as sandbags!! Of course I'm not that prepared, so I'm scooping and dumping as fast as I can. Too late, some of the butter has already escaped. Oh well, there's still plenty on the dough. TRUST ME!!! I sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon as instructed and then start to roll the dough up.

Rolling the dough isn't as easy as you'd think. It's not like rolling sleeping pads that you use for camping. You don't want to roll it good and tight and get all the air bubbles out. WHY??? Because here comes that freaking butter again! OMG!!! I have to take another look at Hyacinth (from the article), where are the pools of butter?? I finally just start flapping it over from the other end, what the heck, who's gonna know?? I can tell you that my roll did resemble the finished roll in the article.

Next comes the slicing! HOW FUN!!! Hum, should I start at the end? Or in the middle? I decide to start in the middle. OMG!! MISTAKE!!! It was like hitting a carotid artery (okay, I've never actually seen this happen....only in the movie Sweeney Todd), the butter/sugar and cinnamon spilled out! CRAP! I sliced faster and got them into the pans ASAP!!

A little down time while the oven heats up and I wait for the rolls to rise again. During this time I decide to make the frosting. It calls for a whole bag of powdered sugar. YUMMY!!! I pour the bag into a bowl and some gets on my finger, I lick it and then realize I'm suppose to fast for 12 hours!! Oh well!!

The frosting also calls for 1/4 cup of brewed coffee. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! I'm not brewing coffee that I won't be able to drink for an hour!! I melt another 1/4 cup of butter and add some maple favoring and use my grandmother's handy dandy potato masher to mix it. WA LA!! Frosting is born.

Amazingly enough, they turned out GREAT!!! They don't look as perfect as the one's Hyacinth made, but they sure taste good!!

Of course Bill's awake now. I've sent one pan home with Julie, she did my blood draw. I took one across the road to the neighbors, so there's 5 left. Bill is very interested in where the others are going. Yep, you know where this is going...... G

I would have taken pictures to compare my technique with the one that I was following. However I was concerned for my camera, I didn't think it could survive all the grease from the butter!

Here's the final product however. I must say they sure are delicious with a hot cup of coffee!!



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Free Mud - Puppy Available!!!!

We got pretty lucky this weekend in regards to the weather. The last week has been a nightmare with the ice on not only our gravel roads, but our lane that a little warm weather had us breaking out the swimming suits and beach towels. Well...not really, but we did get some "projects" done that really needing doing.

Later in the day yesterday it got into high 30's or low 40's and things started to melt. Alan came by with his tractor pulling a small disc to break up the ice and rough up the drive a bit. He also did the 2 mile stretch of gravel so we could get out safely. Have I mentioned yet how I LOVE THIS GUY!!! No, Bill's not jealous....in truth, he loves him too!!! G

Today it was in the low 40's this am and was suppose to be 7 degrees by 7 PM, so it was a morning to "GET BUSY!!'. Seeker needed to burn off some energy, so he came out with us to be the "farm dog" for the day. We moved some hay around to make room for the horse trailer inside the barn. We set it up on this handy dandy ball base that Jeff made (he's right up there with Alan) so I can feed the ponies in the trailer when I feel like it. Then we secured the big North doors of the barn and "winterized them". This process includes using plastic and old hay bales. You get the idea.

Then we headed over to the agility building and moved the "little" 8' A-Frame out and the "big" 9' A-Frame in. Bill wanted to know "why", as it would require some effort on his part. Now, you must understand, if it was because "I" wanted it....you could pretty much forget it. Seeker however needed to work on the "big" A-Frame decent....so, NOT A PROBLEM! A-Frames were switched! He also brought over our other Teeter, the more the merrier!

So 4 hours of work later, most of our projects are done. We look at the puppy and OMG!! That "thing" can NOT come into the house!!! Not after we spent 1/2 the day cleaning yesterday!

Would you want this puppy in YOUR HOUSE!




Here's Seeker's "best" cat friend, Cougar. Next to Cougar is Seeker's little flippy floppy Frisbee. NASTY ISN'T IT!! It's actually pretty clean here as he dropped it in a water puddle.

Cougar, being the smart cat, isn't going to touch it.

They are so cute together. Cougar will chase Seeker and then Seeker tries to herd Cougar. They are adorable, of course as soon as you bring the camera out...it comes to an end.



Alas, Seeker ended up in the bathtub. It was that or the "pony pond" AKA horse water tank. I of course just finished filling that with clean water, so the tub it was.

Somehow he ever managed to get his face dirty!!

One thing about the cold temperatures....at least the MUD FREEZES!!!!

Stay warm!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Keeping It Between The Ditches....Life in the Country!

Winter's here!! The calendar might still say it's Fall, but trust me.....Winter is HERE!!

Truth be known, I like Winter. I enjoy inhaling a blast of cold air through my nostrils and having them stick together. I enjoy riding the ponies in the snow and tossing snowballs for the dogs. I enjoy bundling up and going for a walk, leaving a fresh path in the white stuff.

What I do NOT like is the ICE!!!! What is up with all of this??? Did someone steal Mother Nature's Hot Chocolate!! PLEASE GIVE IT BACK!!!!! I beg of you!!!

We have had more ice in Iowa in this last 18 months than I can remember in my lifetime. Trust me, I might act like I'm 6, but I'm MUCH OLDER! G

It all started in April 2007 with the great ICE storm that took out thousands of electric poles and left us without electricity for 5 days. Heat is one thing you do NOT want to be without in April......buurrrrr!!!!! Then it started up again in December 2007 and never thawed until April. It was horrible. No riding, walking, running dogs outside due to the ice. BORING!!!!

So, last night it started again! Yep, a bit of an ice storm. It doesn't take much ice to really cause travel issues. I was prepared! I live about 25 miles from work and I knew it could be a bit questionable when I went to bed Monday. If we were going to have blowing snow then Carrie the Honda would need to stay home (no clearance!!!) and I'd have to take the pickup.

I got up a bit early, made by coffee (yummy!!), filled my thermos, put on my coverall, boots and gloves and headed out to the pick up. It isn't parked under the lean, so it's covered in ice. While I waited for it to clear off - I fed and watered the ponies which were left in their stalls for the day.

The trip to work wasn't too bad. I took my time on the gravel (amazing feat for me) and made it to the highway. There were only a few cars on the road, which was good because I was going to have to PASS THEM!! JL, DRIVE ALREADY!! I will admit that I did actually drive the speed limit, which is uncommon for me. After I got to work I realized my wallet was still in the van ..... safely at home. Oh well!!!! At work I decided to be proactive and put some cardboard over my windshield. I NEVER DO THAT!!! I figured it would protect it from the accumulation of ice/snow we were suppose to continue to get until 6 PM this evening.

Well, guess what! The weatherman was WRONG!! I know, it probably doesn't happen where you live, but our weatherman can NOT be TRUSTED!! It stopped at noon. Not only that....it was warm enough that I didn't even need the cardboard! Oh well, I suppose that's a good thing.

The ride home was just about as uneventful as the drive to work. I did get to go faster! G
As I got to the median to turn onto the gravel I put the truck into 4 wheel drive. Now, I realize 4 wheel drive doesn't help on ice, but I didn't think it could hurt either.

I turn onto the gravel and driving along for about 1/4 mile when the truck starts to fishtail. CRAP!!!! I made note that it was sure nice of the county to dig them ditches out really deep this summer so the snow could accumulate in them. Of course that means I'm going down MUCH deeper into them. I counter the fishtail (successfully) and then it fishtails the other way, S! So I counter the other direction and sure enough.....it fishtails again the opposite direction. It was slow motion and similar to a video game. You make a move and your opponent makes a counter move. I had the time to actually access the ditches and count 4 move/counter moves. Yep 8 rotations of the wheel!! I'm happy to report that I kept her between the ditches!!

When Bill got home he asked me how fast I was going......I told him "I don't know"...which I honestly didn't. I was going too fast, but who had time to look at the speedomter!! GEEZ!!

Tomorrow's another day!! I think I'll give Carrie a whirl! (um....spin).....um ..... I think I'll drive her to work! VBG

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Natalie and Peach NA (Novice Agility Dog)

Natalie and Peach had a wonderful weekend!! They qualified 5 out of 6 runs and placed each time. Today she knew she needed just one leg (qualifying run) in Standard to earn an NA. I'm happy to report....THEY DID IT!!!!!

We had a GREAT time this weekend. Many people might have thought she was a little "unfocused" during our walk throughs, but she really was paying attention. She didn't want to walk more than twice! Yes, TWICE!!!! If I asked if she wanted to walk again, I'd get a "No Thank you"..... and off she'd run. Usually to find Jennifer (Sorry Meme!!!) So, I'll now laugh every time people complain about an 8 minute walk through. Give Natalie 90 seconds and she's PERFECT!!!! I almost hate to admit...she doesn't even start Kindergarten until NEXT FALL!!!

Novice has 14-16 obstacles, your courses are label with numbered cones. You walk the course to figure out your handling strategy, planning where your dog will be and where you need to be in order to be successful as a team.

Here's how we handled the situation. First I'd play "dumb" (in other words act like myself) and tell Natalie I didn't know where we were suppose to go and if she'd help me. I think she "might" have rolled her eyes at me a couple times, but I'm not sure. G

For the second time through I'd be the "dog handler" and Natalie would be my dog. Her name was "Janet" (don't ask me why???) and she was a Golden Retriever (again, I have NO idea why). So I would run the course and "Janet" would run with me. You only got one shot to get it right and then Natalie, um, I mean Janet, was GONE!!!

Natalie has a wonderful attitude. Yesterday I told her that I was a little nervous and I asked if she was. She told me she wasn't and that I should just go out there and have fun with my dog. How smart is that? She was really happy when we both got ribbons yesterday and she even picked mine up for me! Thanks Natalie!! She told me I got third, which was really good. She of course got second. I sure wouldn't want to be the one that beat the 5 year old! Luckily, she's NOT in my class.

Below is Natalie and Peaches "NA" run. I think Natalie was a little nervous today as she "knew" that she could get a title. I'm so glad they did as Natalie's MeMa (Grandma - sorry LIZ!!!) earned a NA on her sheltie too!! How fun is that!!!!

I also added Seeker's Sunday Novice run so his "MeMa" could see him run. He sets up sitting between my legs, which I thought would be WONDERFUL for being able to leave from either side. The down side is that he tries to get between my feet on the way into the ring and almost trips me! LOL Today we were working holding position and contacts. He had a great auto down on the table, guess we need to work on popping into the sit a bit. G Overall, he was a good boy.



video video

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lessons to be learned from a 5 year old!!!!

Natalie (5) and Peach (2) made their agility debut (or as we say around here.... De - Butt) today at the ICDOC agility trial. They were AWESOME!!!!! Natalie has done the majority of training of own training and has even participated in agility classes with adults.

In October Natalie even came out and gave Seeker and I a private lesson. Trust me, after today's run, he needs a LOT MORE!!! G Needless to say, you'll be seeing Natalie and Peaches runs....Seeker's on the other hand, well....maybe tomorrow?? LOL

I loved how calm, cool and collected Natalie was today. When I talked to her earlier in the day I told her I was nervous and asked if she was. "No", she responded and trust me, she MEANT IT!! I think the most confusing part for her was where to toss her leash. I guess hind sight, I did tell her where it would end up, but didn't really give her any information as to what to do with it at first. UGH!! Oh well, she did a pretty great job of figuring that out on her own. Just watch the video!

Natalie did a wonderful job making sure that Peach did her contacts!! What a great job!!!
What a fun team to watch!!! It's amazing, this is their very first time running together at a real trial and they ended up 2nd in Standard and 1st in JWW!!

Seeker ran first in Standard and had 2 refusals, one table fault and a teeter fly off. OOPS, in his defense, it was a really slow teeter and we've been working on racing to the end and riding it down. He raced to the end alright, the teeter however was still in the air! So, needless to say, he didn't qualify. Natalie told me I need to practice more, she's probably right.

So, always the sportsman. Natalie asks me if Seeker is going to get a ribbon. I had to tell her no. UGH!!! G I told her, maybe tomorrow, if we keep our fingers crossed. She promptly crossed both of hers! I'm pretty sure she'll remember tomorrow, but I think I'll remind her ...... JIC!

WAY TO GO NATALIE AND PEACH!!!!!!


video video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

For Dena

Since Dena "Seeker's Grandma" doesn't have a player for this type of video, I promised I'd put Seeker's runs on the blog. They aren't MARVELOUS!!! There are however some really nice things.

Just a side note, when the weave poles are #2, I practiced running while he was approaching on purpose. We do this at home and I was at this trial to practice, push his limits and get an idea of what we need to work on more at home.

Moving weave pole entries - when I'm ahead and moving.
Faster contacts.
HANDLING!!!!!
Jumps, Jumps and MORE JUMPS!!!

Enjoy! I had fun and I'm pretty sure Seeker did too.


video video

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's Grosser than Gross???

You ever play that game as a kid? You know, someone starts off saying, "What's grosser than gross", then they tell you something gross and you have to try to top it? No?? Hum....oh well, let's play anyway!

I have a "What's Grosser than Gross" tale for you.

Please feel free to leave a comment with a story to top it. If you dare. G

Last Monday, following the Halloween party, I took a BUNCH of those snack sized candy bars to work with me. There were 6 to be exact. I like them with my coffee in the morning. Sounds pretty tame, right? I showed some restraint by leaving 2 in my "work" tote for Tuesday morning's coffee. So far so good.

I always leave my work tote in the van overnight, so that I don't forget it in the morning. Tuesday morning I arrive at work at my usual 6 am. I pour my cup of coffee from my thermos into one of my favorite mugs. (McMurray Hatchery with a Polish Chicken on the front). I'm not sure why no one ever steals it? Oh, sorry...."shiny object".

I rut around in the bag looking for my chocolates and pull out the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. It's got holes in the package and it looks like someone was trying to eat it. Actually, they succeeded, kind of. What the HECK!! So I find the other chocolate, a Hershey Bar. Sure enough, there are bites taken out of that one too! BLOODY H!!! I apparently have a carpool buddy and he's NOT paying for gas, and to make it worse, he's also enjoying my chocolates in the evening! To say I was ANGRY was an understatement. If I wasn't afraid of being "committed" by my co-workers, I would have gone out and started YELLING inside the van at the little culprit. Instead however, I calmly emptied out my tote, looking for any little chocolate sprinkles. There weren't any, at least "it" was housebroken!

So that evening I asked Bill to set a couple mouse traps on the floor in the front seat of the van. (WHY?? It was HIS VAN) Yes, someone might as well just e-mail Jeff Foxworthy right now!!

You Might Be A Red Neck If......
You set a mouse trap inside your van and you catch one!

Wednesday morning, I'm happy to report....SUCCESS!!! I caught the little trick or treater! Apparently "it" wanted more peanut butter! I also apparently didn't know the right trick to get the treat!

One final note here, as I'm sure someone will want to try to top this story. So, let me just do it for you........

What's Grosser than Gross?? Finding two chocolates, nibbled on by a mouse and then eating it yourself!!! Did I?? No, even "I" have my limits. I just didn't want someone else to get that punch line. VBG

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Halloween Birthday!!!

40th Birthdays are always fun and deserve a celebration. 30 seems to be hard for some people to swallow, so it's best done "quietly". By 40 however, you're pretty much over the "growing old" part and figure you're "hopefully" half way to retirement....so it's time to PARTY!!!

Our Friend Marsha, AKA - Meme (I very RARELY call her by her given name) doesn't really care for surprises. So, I thought I'd ask if I could have a little get together for her 40th. She said, sure. I told her GREAT! I get to pick the theme and we left it at that. To be honest, I asked the beginning of September and we hardly spoke of it since. Mostly because if I started talking about it, the theme would no longer be a secret! I know.....loose lips sink ships, guess that's why I never made it to the Navy!

So for over 6 weeks I planned the Harry Potter birthday party! Yes, for adults. Um, very immature adults! LOL I won't bore you with my shopping trips, but they were many and trust me, I do NOT LIKE TO SHOP!! This however did become slightly addictive. I have NEVER made so many trips to Good Will in my life! What a great place to get unwanted graduation robes, perfect for our needs!!

So, let the party begin!!!

First off you need to have the 4 "houses" of Hogwarts represented.

Thus -

Slytherin was the hot food table.


Hufflepuff was the cake table.



Ravenclaw was the snack table and Gryffindor was the catch-all.




Next your cast of Characters.
(Note the two Muggles in the picture above!!)

There's of course Albus Dumbledore and Sybil Trelawney. (Below)


Madam Hooch - is she "drinking and riding???" Our 40 year old BIRTHDAY GIRL!


Professor's Spout and McGonagall -
They look like they're up to "NO GOOD" with those wands!


Our "Head Girl" and also a Birthday Girl....We'll get her in 8 YEARS!!


One of our "PERFECT'S". Is she "spiking the punch"?


A Head Boy - showing off his "Turbo Broom"!! (Do they allow sneakers at Hogwarts?)

And the animals.......

Aragog


and finally, what would a Harry Potter Party be without Hedwig.
(I know....it looks like a chicken, but she was working on her "WHO" all week!)




Everyone did such a nice job with their costumes that it really does need to become an annual event.

So, everyone, put your robe in plastic and be prepared NEXT YEAR!!

Not to worry, more blogs to come on the fabulous food, drink and yes, the ever popular one dollar toys!!! You won't want to miss that! VBG

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Indianapolis Water Trial - Re-visited.....

I thought it might be fun to play with removing color from some of the pictures I took back in September. It's fun to play with different things that Photo Shop Elements can do. It's gives a new focal point to your pictures. There are so many fun bright colors in Portuguese Water Dog - Water Trials, I thought I'd focus on those.

First Mad Dog and I with her bright Red Buoy Ball. This was taken during her Versatility test.
The water was a tad bit "rough" which is why the boat is tilted as such a funny angle.



Next is Porter and his Bright RED harness! Porter and Judy are also working in Versatility. Here he is "marking" his float line that has been dropped out in the water. I removed a red collar that Porter was wearing. You've got to love PSE!



Breaking the "red" color theme is Mike and Ocea. Yep, it's an orange tote and if you think it's MINE you're CORRECT!! Mike borrowed my fishing net for net retrieve in Ocea's Courier Level test.


Here's Ocea again in Courier, this time with Kristi. This is probably my favorite picture.
Ocea has already jumped into the water and is now taking the buoy ball from Kristi to head out to do the drop. Good Girl OCEA!!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Men and Cologne??

Is it just me? Or are men totally CLUELESS when it comes to using cologne? I'm not sure if there are directions on the back of the bottle?? Not that a man would read them anyway, but OMG!! I'm pretty sure it does NOT say BATHE in it!

I do understand that women have a better sense of smell than men (excluding Liz here), but can they honestly NOT tell when to STOP!!! A subtle hint might be when the bottle is almost empty and you just opened it!

So today, I had to take Carrie to the "plastic surgeon", she had a fight with a nice buck over the weekend and she won! You should have seen the other guy!!! G So, I drive into the garage and the insurance agent obviously used ZERO self control when he applied the cologne this am!

He took his time looking at all the damage and explained what he felt needed to be done. Very nice guy! However, my nose is now starting to run and my throat is beginning to constrict. I'm seriously wishing I had packed my epi-pen! Finally he's finished and goes back in the office to cut me a check. I pull Carrie around and go into the waiting room. Not his office mind you.

So, as I'm leaving I can still smell the cologne. He did NOT even enter the van!! I didn't shake hands with him, God knows I didn't rub against him....but I still smell that nasty cologne! So now, it's inside Carrie and I can't get rid of it. It's 47 degrees outside (in the sun - BTW - there's NOT a sun) and I'm driving with the windows down to get rid of the smell!!

I arrive at home, cold and wind blown. I boot up the computer, sit down to check my e-mail and there it is again! It's on my freaking sweatshirt!!! Into the laundry it goes. Honestly, it's like some annoying fly you just can't get away from. A thought..... OMG!!! The PAPER WORK and CHECK!! CRAP...it's still inside the van...... in my work bag!!!! GOTTA RUN!!!!!

So please women and children. It's too late for Father's Day, but Christmas Season upon us. Please buy your man an ugly tie and not some smelly cologne! At least the tie only offend as long as you see it.....the cologne is with you for ........what seems like FOREVER!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seeker likes his Ladies....SHORT!!!!!

We were in IL over the weekend for an agility trial. Yes, I know.....BIG surprise!! What else do we really ever travel for?

Seeker isn't trialing yet, so he tends to bet rather bored just sitting in a "box" all day. After we were done running Mad and Kruz on Saturday, we got Seek out of the box and took the camera out to shoot some dogs.....um, I mean take some pictures! G

First some group shots....or in Addie's case, an individual shot as brother Pauly was home this weekend recovering from a foot sore.

Here's Kruz, (10.5 yrs) Mad Dog (8.5 yrs) and Seeker (16 months). Wow!! Where does the time go?? Looks like I'll be needing to re-do my blog header with updated pictures!!


Next is Addie, she's almost 3 years old and way too cute for words. Makes you "almost" want one...until she gives you the "Addi-Tude"!! G




Finally, there's Bea. She's 5 and it's amazing we could find her at an agility trial without drool coming out of her mouth!!!



So enough of the stationary stuff already!! Seeker and Addie wanted to play, so we just broke the rules and turned them loose! Seeker thought this was a great idea and let Addie just try and catch him!
Then Addie somehow found a way to cut him off at the pass!!!

GOTCHA!!!!


So then Seeker would taunt her, staying just out of reach. He'd even go so far as to slow down so she'd feel like she was going to GET HIM!! Then he turn on the Turbo Boosters and zip by her.



When both of their tongues were dragging on the ground, it was time to end the fun. We'll do it again some other time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Private Agility Lesson - and Egg Collection......

I decided that Seeker and I would really benefit from a few "private" agility lessons.
There are OBVIOUSLY some things we need to work on in order to gel as a team.....okay, so more than a few! G

Help was on its way! In the form of a 3'3" (??) 40 lb, 5 year old. Yes, I must admit, my personal trainer is a KID!!! The great thing about Natalie, is she's cute, kind, can do amazing things with her own dog and she's HONEST! Boy, do I need the honesty!! HA!

Natalie of course needed a ride out to our place, as she doesn't have a drivers license.....yet.
If they gave them to 5 years olds, she'd so have one!

I talked with Natalie's mom, Mary, last week regarding Natalie's first official agility trial coming up in December. I thought it might be a good idea to get together so Natalie would have a better understanding of what to expect at a trial. In other words, give her some 14-16 obstacle courses and see how she does. Of course being 5, she'd rather play than 'seriously' train, (which is probably why her dog is so good!), so the plan was to ask her if she'd be free on Sunday and help me train Seeker. Of course she said, YES!! I tossed in that maybe she could work Peach (her 3 year old Samoyed) and she thought that was a good idea. We had a DATE!!

Photo by: Agilityig.smugmug.com

So Sunday Mary, Natalie and Peach arrive for our lesson. We decide it might be best to work Peach first and Natalie is fine with that. She did remind me on several occasions that she will help me with Seeker when we're done. She was totally serious, and actually so was I. G

So finally it's time to get Seeker out. Natalie asks if I have a toy and some treats. I confirm that I did. She suggests we start in jumpers as it's only jumps and not as much to think about. I tell her that's a great idea as Seeker has been wanting to run around them vs. over them. She gives me a noncommittal "HUM" and we head to the jumpers yard.

"I want you to do 1-4", she tells me. "Let's see how he does with those, then we'll add a piece each time." Okay, I tell her. The first three obstacles are jumps, 4, is a set of 6 weave poles. How far should I lead out? I ask. Natalie tells me to lead out jump past number 1. So we complete our exercise and Natalie tells me "nice job" and "give him some treats." Which I do. Truth be known, Seeker just swallows the treats because they are in his face, he really doesn't "want" them. But who am I to argue? I am paying for this lesson after all!

So, the sets continue adding another obstacle as we go. It was too funny, Natalie would give me directions and tell me, "I'll be right over here if you have a question." WHAT SERVICE!!! Seeker dropped the second bar once and I asked her why she thought he did that. She thought a minute and said, "He didn't jump high enough." Well, I guess she's right!! G By that time we repeat 1-9 (yes, that's 5 additional runs) Seeker's tongue is now on the ground and I ask if maybe we can take a break.

Finally we head into the building to work on some Standard stuff. Seeker's problem in standard is he'll slide off the table...even if he's low and nails are digging. So she had me working close to the table and just feeding him for downing. Pretty darn good logic for a 5 year old. Most adults wouldn't be able to figure that out! Face it, building value close and then add distance! GEEZ!!! Natalie is a great teacher, she gives you positive feedback (even if you don't deserve it), she asks you to reward your dog and acknowledges your progress!! I highly recommend her!!

Now for her fee........

She wanted to see the chickens and collect eggs. Sure, we can do that. Armed with an egg carton, we're off to the "hog house". Long story short, we do have a chicken coop, but it has agility equipment stored in it. We also have a hog house, but no hogs....it's bigger and further from the house, thus, our chickens live there. If that's confusing to you, you're not alone! (':

There are 8 eggs in the nest boxes, but Natalie thinks she should only take 6 and leave two to hatch. Who am I to argue, but I didn't mention they weren't going to hatch....the would my Tuesday night supper! So as she's leaving the chicken yard, she bends down toward the "girls" (aka - hens) and says, "Do you want to say good bye to your babies? I'll take good care of them." I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped open and I stuttered....I told Natalie she'd probably be better off eating them for breakfast. She assured me she knew just what to do with these eggs and she was very excited about having some baby birds. I looked at Mary helplessly and she just shrugged. I guess she's use to these kinds of things.

I checked with Mary today and the eggs are safely in their refrigerator. Natalie is refusing to eat them and Mary is thinking she'll need to camouflage them in something....like cake. G

When is my next lesson? I'm not really sure, but I'm sure it'll be FUN!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seeker's De-Butt!!


We decided to enter Seeker in an NADAC trial on Saturday. It was fairly close, relatively speaking, and we were going to go anyway, so what the heck. It was treated as a fun match to see where he's at with his training. He was entered in the Novice Standard classes (2 classes to be exact) where we could work on our dog walk and a-frame contacts (which caused several dogs some problems with it's rubber numbed surface and low height), right along with our start lines.

I knew going in what my criteria would be: If he broke his sit position at the start... GAME OVER!!! On the two contact pieces (NADAC feels the teeter isn't safe), if he missed his contact (2 on/2 off) then I'd put him back on. NADAC allows training in the ring, within limits. So this would be a great opportunity for us.

It was the end of the day by the time we got on course.....I'm talking END OF THE DAY, as we didn't even get into the ring until 5 PM or so. After sitting in a "box" all day, I'm sure Seeker was ready to do SOMETHING!!! ANYTHING!!!!!

Seeker's set up at the start line is to sit between my feet. I tell him "feet", he sits there until I release him. I don't tell him to stay, as sit/down, whatever means to hold that position until you're told to do something else. It's all he's ever known and it seems to work for him. I like this set up as I can go either to the right or left without having to worry about which side to set him up on.

At the trial I decided on the starts I would set him up and run away from him to get into position. In essence, I was testing his ability to hold position. To be honest, this is nothing different then what he's been asked to do at home or even at practice jumps at AKC trials, so I didn't think he's honestly break. He didn't.

I created a lot of Seeker's impulse control abilities come from playing CRATE GAMES! If you've never done these types of exercises with your dog, get some information on them and DO IT! It's not only fun, it's fantastic for training not only impulse control, but also drive. Anyway....I'm off track....again.

I couldn't have been more pleased with his start lines, weave poles and contacts. I told him to "bottom" and kept running until I got to the next jump, only then did I stop and release him. He was perfect!

Okay, I'll admit he TOTALLY missed his A-Frame contact on his first run. This was due to it only being 5' high and as he caught air over the top he got "nothing but net"!! In other words, his front feet hit the ground before his back feet hit the contact piece (so much for NADAC safety). He really tried, it just wasn't meant to be. I didn't take him back over because as soon as he landed he was stone still. He really tried!!!

Overall, it was an excellent experience. We have things to work on, like building value for those jumps and continued training on weaves. But I'm very happy with what he's done so far.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A NEW BATHROOM SINK and FAUCET!!!

Current House Temp - a pleasant 66 degrees

Finally I'm going to put in a new bathroom sink and faucet!! I've talked about it FOREVER and we were at Maynard's yesterday, both items were on sale, it seemed like FATE!! G

Sal (Aka - Bill) was NONE too PLEASED!!! He was grumbling how he didn't want to have to get "involved". I told him I was going to do this ALL BY MYSELF and he didn't need to worry about it. He rolled his eyes and said, "Sure, but as soon as you run into a problem, you throw up your hands and then I have to deal with it." I of course looked hurt and told him that I NEVER do THAT!!

First things First, I put on my "Do ANYTHING SOCKS". They are polar fleece and the tag claimed that by wearing these socks - you can do ANYTHING!!!

As I read the directions (This is actually a FIRST for me, I don't DO DIRECTIONS!) that evening, I realized I needed a few other items in order to do this properly. So this morning, back to Maynards we go. I figure if I'm going to make another trip that I might as well pick up some paint too and get rid of that one bathroom wall that's painted ZEST Green (it was suppose to be sage and it honestly looked sage at the store!!!!)

So I come home with my Quart of "Cow Polk" brown - I was looking for a tan color, but the tan all looked rather yellowish and when I saw this name, I was SOLD!!! Oh come on, how many of you haven't bought a color based on it's name alone??? That's what I thought! VBG

Getting started was fun!! First I had to remove the sink from the wall and vanity. It wasn't really too hard, the caulking holding the sink in place was long past it's life expectancy. I made sure to turn off the water and had towels placed inside the vanity and wrapped around the water pipes. I carefully unscrewed the pipes (they are all PVC these days) and put them in the bathtub so I wouldn't lose anything. The "J" Assembly (yes, I learned TECHNICAL TERMS!!!) was filled with - what I assumed was old plumber's putter. EEEWWWWWW!!!! It was due for a cleaning!

So with the sink out of the way I started on my first coat of Cow Polk Brown!! I've heard that green can be a challenge to cover and this was look as if two coats of paint would be in order. No problem, one wall, one quart, I should be fine.

As the first coat was drying I headed to the living room to attach the faucet to the new sink. SURE B PURDY!!!! I laid out all the tools and the parts along side the directions. I was almost done when Sal popped into the room to voice his support that I was actually using the directions!! GOOD JOB ME!!

I did NOT want to mess this job up!!! I'm getting pretty cocky by now, and was pretty sure I've found my calling. I'm going to switch career choice and become a plumber!! Mission accomplished I patted myself on my back, (not too hard) and headed back into the bathroom to check on the paint situation.

LOOKING GOOD!!! I applied the second coat, realizing that it's sometimes nice to be semi ambidextrous, especially when you're painting. I was able to make just as many mistakes with my right hand as with my left!!! Imagine that!!! Can you say, "TOUCH UP??"

Finally, the time has come to put on the NEW SINK!!!! I put on the bead of silicone, carefully carry the sink into the bathroom and place it on the vanity. (Yes, it does FIT!!! G) I hook up the hot and cold lines and the J assembly, with some confusion.....but it's on. The moment of truth!!!

I turn on the cold water, it's flowing nicely.....I turn on the hot water....PERFECT!!! WOW!! This really was easy!!!

WAIT!!! What the HECK!! A very small bead of water, it that a drip? I ask myself. I put my finger on the J assembly connection and it comes back damp. Wait, I bet my finger was damp when I put it up there the first time. No, it's so a drip!!! CRAP!!!! I wrestled around with it for another 30 minutes or so and finally I called Sal over to explain the problem to him. He shrugs his shoulders and turns to walk away.

STOP!!! I tell him. I'm going to go clean the pony stalls, why don't YOU see what YOU can do with this. He nods, with some hint of satisfaction on his face. WHAT?? I say, Nothing is his reply.

So tonight as I'm writing this (waiting for more paint to dry - as once you paint one wall, it leads to two, etc.) it's still dripping ever so slightly. So until we can come up with a solution, it looks as though you'll have to turn the water on under the sink first if you want to wash up. Just one more....You Might Be A Redneck If ...... at our house. Hey, since this house didn't even have plumbing until the 1970's, I'm not complaining!!

Here's a quick peek at our next sink, faucet and Cow Polk wall!!!!


(Someone really ought to clean that mirror!!! Maybe next weekend???)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall Ritual - When is it "cold" enough??

I'm sure EVERYONE does it. Delaying turning on the furnace and putting those flannel sheets!!

It's almost like by doing these things you are giving up on Summer, and let's face it.....

I DON'T WANT IT TO BE OVER!!!

So I watch the thermostat in the house and think about making comments about the "chill" in the air. This generally results in a variety of responses from Bill, none of which is: "Turn on the heat already!!" Luckily the thermostat is right by the computer, I can look over and see currently it's at 63 degrees. Honestly, it's not too bad since I have on cuddle duds (tops/bottoms), sweats (top and bottom) and slippers. Oh, I forgot the hot beverage, coffee at the moment. I also have a small desk lap, which is handy, as it's second function is a hand warmer when my fingers get too cold to type. You have to use caution, as it's gets really HOT!

This morning when I got up, it was at 59, so hey, it's progress!! I actually like sleeping in the cooler weather, so at least that doesn't me. Being cold during my waking hours isn't something I enjoy!!

I think Bill has some secret bet with the Weather Gods!! I'm not sure if he wins anything, but I know he's playing!! How long can I hold out before I have to turn the heat on? I wonder if he writes the date on a calendar every year? Somehow I wouldn't be surprised.

This year I've decided, I'm not going to say ANYTHING!!! Nope, I'll just put on more layers and pile on the dogs if need be. I'll even wear my coveralls in the house if that's what it takes. FREEZE BABY FREEZE!!!! I guess I'd better go and find Mad and Kruz's coats. Seeker is from up north where it's freezing already, so he's LOVING THIS!!

So, let me know....when do you turn on your furnace???

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Square Pies!!!

Last weekend we camped in Davenport....Yes, another "DOG THING". G

Tracy would not be camping with us this weekend as it was close enough for her to drive back and forth. She did NOT totally trust us with her antique pie maker, so she provided us with the "next best thing", our OWN!!!!! YIPPEE!!!

Now, it's now quite like Tracy's. First off, it's square! Square as in it's shape....not square as in "un-cool".

No, this is Very COOL!!!



Unfortunately, Tracy got side tracked and didn't make it to a store in order to get us the supplies we'd need in order to make pies.

Never fear! Carrie found one and collected the prime quality ingredients we would need for our dessert.

One loaf of white bread.


One Can of Apple Filling.

Is that John Wayne on the front of the can??


Never mind, it looks more like Forrest Gump.....


Butter, Cinnamon and extra sugar, which she picked up at the deli area.

GOOD THINKING Carrie!!!


So to cooking we go!!!

I carefully assembled the first pie...and popped it into the coals.



We timed carefully as we were NOT going to have the same disaster as the first pie had last weekend!! We decided 3 minutes per side would be about right.

Well, Maybe 2 would be better next time???



Actually this looked much worse that it was. Our camp fire rim was much deeper here, thus our pie baker was tipped into the fire. This resulted in the top end being rather "well done".

Of course Seeker was willing to "take one for the team"!!!

SORRY SEEK!!!


Here is our first pie.

Not too bad if you picked around the burned parts.

I could see how this would make pretty good grilled cheese!!




This was the last camping weekend of the year.

I suppose I'll have to play with this at home in our fire pit.

Maybe put together a pizza?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just Desserts!!!

We have been camping at the Jester Park Camp ground during the September DMOTC Agility Trials since the trial moved to the Jester Park Equestrian Center. No one of us can remember the year of that first trial, but we're sure it's been awhile. G

It saves on hotel fees, gives us a chance to enjoy the late summer, early fall weather and it's just plain FUN!!!

This year we had - 10 people and 20 dogs spending the weekend.

One would think that with 20 dogs present, our camp site would consist of nothing but barking dogs, and chaos.... ours was one of the quieter sites...

..that is... until it was time to make DESSERT!!!!


Our dogs are well behaved....the humans....um, some times NO SO MUCH!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Tracy brought along her antique pie maker, it makes WONDERFUL homemade apple or cherry pies, just like the pilgrims use to make.

Okay, so maybe it's NOT that old.

She is a skilled camp fire dessert maker and has a merit badge to prove it!!

(Sorry, I made that part up too!)

The process is very simple!

You'll need an antique pie maker (found at your local antique dealer, if you're LUCKY!!!), a camp fire with hot embers, bread, butter and home made apple or cherry filling...oh.... and a can opener to open the pie filling! Tracy has gotten so good she now actually CANS now, vs. using those silly mason jars. G


STEP ONE:

Butter a piece of homemade white bread and top with cherry pie filling .

Sorry about the blur on this picture, but Tracy is FAST!!!



STEP TWO:

Butter a second piece of bread and place it on top of pie filling.

Note: it is important that the butter side be on the OUTSIDE!


Step Three:

Squeeze Pie Maker together and secure "rod holder".



Step Four:

Trim off excess crust from bread. It's hard to see what Tracy is doing below, but you'll have to just "trust me" on this one.

I wanted to show you how her 'homemade bread' comes wrapped!! She is amazing.

Also please note the sanitary conditions in which she is working!

No germs HERE!!! LOL


Step Five:

Carefully place "pie maker" into the fire and be sure to check the time.

Much debate ensued
on the necessary cooking time needed.

It's amazing how many 'cooks' wanted to voice an option!!

Is this just the prettiest picture?

Our dessert 'in process'.


Step Six:

WA-LA!!!

As Tracy proudly displays the ease as which a wonderfully tasty
dessert can be made, even at camp.

UH - OH!!!

There seems to be a bit too much smoke!!

Never Fear! Tracy says calmly.

It might be just a bit overcooked.......


YA THINK!!!!!


Who wants the first one!!!!!

Not even Bill raised his hand for this one!!!!!

Does that look like the "S" word might be escaping Tracy's lips??

OH WAIT!!!!

A hand....or should I say a paw offers to give it a try!!


Oh Petra, what a good sport you are!!

Alas, into the garbage it goes.


Tracy now stats CONFIDENTLY that the
'pie maker' is warmed up and ready for use!!


She repeats steps one - five, with MUCH better results!!!


A PIE IS BORN!!!!


DELICIOUS!!!