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!!!!!!


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