Festivity.

An open call!

I am looking for some inspiration, my dear readers!

But real quick.

Is anyone else surprised that we are here halfway through November, staring and the holiday season coming in hot and heavy? Just me? Sometimes I stop and think and almost look around me and wonder how I got here! I am along for the ride though and would not change a thing.

Long time readers know I live for this time of year. The love and family time. The thanks and giving. The traditions. The cooking and baking. The lights and decorations. The festivity! I love it. We had a cold front blow in and the weather has now caught up to the season and is here to stay. Or as much as we have winter weather here in our part of the world. I am not really ready for the cold part though given how not fun winter 2020 was. I literally thought the big winter-pocalypse was winter 2021. I should be able to remember all of this given that last year I was able to go on a Hawaiian vacation, you know…balance things out, but alas, my time memory is still warped from 2020 covid time.

ANYWAY.

It is time to crank up the festive. Turn on the happy. Remember the reason for the season!

So here is the deal, I want to know!

I want to know what are your favorite traditions? What makes the holidays for you? Favorite food (sweet or savory). Favorite music. Favorite activity or decorations.

What makes it festive for you?

I specifically want to know what is your favorite cake!

I am looking to try something new!

Every year (one year I even participated in a blog event!) I have shared my favorite Christmas music, fun animal photo shoots, and of course the cooking and baking. Have no fear, you will get some of that this year of course, but I want to know yours.

Drop and comment and share with us! Or send me an email at 13ahamoments@gmail.com.

Walk in love, dear readers!

A Hippie-Dippie Woo Adventure and The Bestest Boy.

The BESTEST boy.

I am going to brag here in a bit. You might just want to skip to the photos at the bottom from the ride!

The bestest boy not only earned, but he deserves some carrots and apples after last week.

They really are not even enough. All the treats in the world would not be enough!

I am not even kidding. About 20 times a day I would tell Lito how good, brave, and handsome he is.

It was more than him just taking care of me and safely carrying me around all week. It was more than him just being a good boy. Both of these things are blessings to be sure. Horses give us humans so much for our own gain that does not have much to do with the horse.

I know I get all hippie-dippie, but we were in sync. We had the same feelings there in the hills with over one hundred other horses and riders that we have had for the last few months no matter where we are. I know you horse people know how great it is to have the same horse away from home that you have at home. It is the same with dogs and kids. It does not happen all the time for a myriad of reasons.

Have we been riding more away from home than in the past? Yes, we have done that. Have we been riding more away from home with more horses than we have in the past? Yes, we have also done that. Have we spent more weekends away in company than we have in the past? Yup, that too. He has been better and better every year, which is generally to be expected too. But it is more. More of a feeling. That we are on the same wavelength. That we are both right there, in a secret, private place. Almost like a cocoon with nobody else even though we are surrounded by others. It feels as though we are the same. Communicating is not even the right word. Sure, there is that and it is more open and two way than ever, but it is the feel or feeling rather than communicating. The feeling of presence. The flow of energy that has no beginning and no end. If that makes sense. It is some pretty good woo stuff.

I got emotional a few times while we were riding. It was just the whole of it all. This horse came to be from a thought, a dream. It was something I always wanted and only became possible with my Cheetah. All the planning and waiting and trials in addition to trails, and here we are. I bred and trained this horse that carried me so proudly this week.

ANYWAY.

Please enjoy some shots from the ride. Other people and secret shenanigans omitted, as per usual.

R and I had an uneventful and even pleasant caravan drive to our home for the week. We even stopped at the big tack store on the way which we have not been able to do in a while. I snagged a new pair of reins and a curb chain. I told myself I could not get any more. I am just glad they did not have a sale going on like that one year!

We arrived in camp at about 11:30 AM. It took us no time at tall to get our horses set up and let the party begin.

Did I say buffalo?! Why, yes, yes I did. Follow Lito’s left ear and you can see a big ‘ol buffalo bull.

Pray for rain. It is pretty sad. We have been blessed with some rain at the farm, but dang. It was so so dry there. Basically no grass. Dirt and dust in and on all of our stuff. My jeans by the end of the week were standing up with dirt as if they had been starched! But look at that hill country sky!

Not that I necessarily pray for a flood, but this drought might be worse than 2011.

Before we headed back this day, we went up the big hill for the best view.

My not so little Lito just trucked up and down without a trouble or extra breath it seemed. He gave everyone their space and kept pace with little input by me.

My photos are a little blurry and I apologize for that. They are all taken with my phone and I tried to clean the lens before every shot, but sometimes it did not seem to help at all.

The tract across the highway has a little more grass, which Lito was delighted with, but still way less than past years.

Why not Line Back Dun Gold??? Lito did sport some glitter one day like last year, and it is still just as fun! I had fancy braids planned, but I ran out of time for that.

If you have not guessed or did not know, this area and this river in particular are quite special and iconic in Texas. We are blessed to be able to ride here!

This place has some of the grandest cypress trees of all. It is very difficult to get a pic with Lito in it AND the tops of the trees! They are so big around, we would need four of us to hug the trunks!

We had cloudy mornings and clear, blue afternoons every day! We did not have any rain, but I think would have all welcomed a little sprinkle or two at night to settle the dust.

The Frio river itself has actually had a good amount of input and was flowing in places. It offers a good long drink and a nice cold soak to cool the horse’s hooves and legs before lunch.

We got a bit of a later start on the drive back home because somebody’s horse would not load, but eventually it did. Lito loaded well and hauled pretty well back home to the farm. I got him settled and fed and then the same to myself before dark. Then it was a hot bath and champagne before bed.

We rode. We swam. We shared stories. We remembered. We laughed. We cried. We enjoyed each other and our horses. Mostly though, I loved on and appreciated my horse.

Each year, while we ride in the same place, is different. However, one thing remains the same. This place and these days and these horses and these people, are all those the Lord has made. Tomorrow is never promised. Learn that lesson now. Enjoy now.

Remember, focus on the positive, not the negative! Most all things wash out in the rain, just another reason to pray for it!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Farm Porch Coffee.

Well, dear readers, this little corner of the interwebs has turned into a once a month update at best! That statement at this point could read once every two months. Details. There are worse things to be sure, however I do apologize for it. It is not what I had intended.

How have y’all been?

I am sitting outside on the porch at the farm with my coffee. It is quiet and still. I am putting off thinking about what all I need to do in favor of writing to you! I think I was doing that last time I wrote.

Where is Merle you ask? A logical question as it might not be this still were he here. He got dropped off at the kennel yesterday for boarding. He is at his annual stay while I am about to begin loading up in preparation to head for the hill country for my annual ride. I have a quick respite here at the farm before striking out right before dawn on Monday to meet up with R and her mount to go west.

More on that later. Back to the still.

If you haven’t noticed, which might be true for some as I myself have no idea how we went straight through September and well into October in less than a blink, but alas, here we are! Blessed be! The curse of being an adult.

I am sitting here with my coffee watching the first colors of the sunrise to the east. I can hear someone, most likely Cheetah, in the barn behind the house pawing her empty feed bucket thinking I will come back and give her more. It is so quiet, I can hear the water spray on the pond in the distance over my shoulder. The air has changed enough that everything sounds different. The birds are chirping all around me and the cows are softly mooing. The air, while pretty humid, still contains that distinct fall softness. If it was less humid, it would almost feel like cashmere. This morning is reminiscent of a morning in Colorado for whatever reason. Most likely the quiet aloneness.

It is just cool enough, and I suppose humid enough, that I considered grabbing something with sleeves to throw on.

Well, this is going to be a long one, I guess. And well, scattered. What all have we been up to since, August, was it? Let us see. Side note, I am starting to realize why Merle goes crazy about the squirrels. They have gotten rather brazen I must say.

A pretty picture of a sunrise from behind the barn. It looks like something out of a storybook.

I write a lot about the weather. In August, it was the heat and what the seasons remind one of. Funny how no matter your lifestyle, the weather is something we all live our lives around. It is something that grounds us and reminds us how small we are in this world. Like the mountains. And the rivers and oceans. Is it just me?

I couldn’t pick just one!

The deer feeder by the pond just went off, if you wanted to know. It is a new one and quite loud.

Anyway. Stay focused.

As you well know, we have been riding. And Lito, well he is great. And turbo cute. I just can not get enough of him.

I may have a problem, but I am OK with that.

It feels funny or odd to say this, but I have been trying to spend a lot of time nurturing my friendships with my human friends. I have been very ‘socially’ busy for me. This is something I think I am normally pretty good at, but lately I have been doing less of it while going through my own stuff. I have been calling to check in with people. Sending a quick text. Grabbing drinks or dinner. Offering help if needed. I want to be there for my people the way some were there for me. Put it on your to do list if you have to. It is all we have. I will be honest, it has been pumping life into me.

Just look at this Merle pup. Just the happiest of all dogs I think. I look at him sometimes and am reminded that, man, happiness is as simple as a choice! Every day.

As you can well imagine, the Merle has been living the life and giving me the life through him!

All dogs are happy, but something makes me feel he is the happiest.

I tried to get enough horse hay to get us through the winter. I used to never even think of this until late October or November. One of the many joys of being where we are. This year is definitely different as many livestock owners will tell you. There are many factors, but the point is, as everyone in the world can tell you, the prices on everything have skyrocketed. Feed across the board included. Throw in a shortage made worse by Mother Nature and well, you shop around, write a check early, put your gloves and music on, and get to work stacking hay in the summer heat of early September. You’ll be covered in sweat, dust, and hay, but you will feel great.

This is Merle questioning the work. He liked this bed of last year’s leftovers.

Setters are so special. This one in particular.

Pretty satisfying work.

We went to ride with friends in two new to us places. Lito really loves exploring and seems very comfortable in his set up. I feel blessed to be able to take the Merle most places and loves it too.

I have to say. These panels are amazing. He is not a small horse if you have noticed and I can lift these with one hand. I bought them several years ago and I have never regretted it.

There is something magical about riding in a forest of trees. I have said it before. I must be living a dream because I will say it feels like something out of a storybook. And now I have said that twice in one post!

See what I mean?! I have no words.

Just like sunsets at the farm render me silent.

My boy, just being my boy.

We rode a 2500 acre ranch southwest of us a couple weekends ago. The riding there. There were some very special moments. There is a lot of tree riding to be had there too! And some very nice big oak trees.

I absolutely downloaded this off a friend’s page. Something about it. One of the few pictures of me!

Last weekend I spent some quality time at the farm with Lito and groomed him for an hour. His fall dapples inspired me even if they are hard to capture in a picture. I even braided his mane. Just because. Gave him many treats. We took a hand grazing walk before I turned him out in a special pasture. To say thank you, he promptly rolled. Gotta love horses!

This also happened last weekend. He was quite pleased with himself. No judging on the state of this farm garage! This is Merl’s life in a nutshell. And, well, mine too!

My Lito, he is ready for this week. He has been at a really steady weight and condition. He has gained muscle. He has really seemed to, grow seems the wrong word. Expand? He has really expanded in his mind, body, and spirit. Sounds funny, I know. He has more than matured. Sure, he is still the goofy teenager he always will be, but he has matured. Seems more grounded. More confident. Not just in himself, but in me too and our communication. Our relationship. He seems softer or quieter in his mind or energy. Maybe I am too. That is generally how it works. I am really looking forward to this ride with him.

The sun is now shining the last of its golden glow on the front pasture while the birds are in full concert. Past time to get moving!

Walk in love, dear readers! I will speak with you soon upon our return!

To The Point.

Is winter over yet? I thought it was with the last cold front, but apparently that is not the case. I jinxed it when I went so far as to say, “winter is over! This is it!.” You would think I would know better by now. Yet, here we are in another freeze.

That is not really the point of this post though. In truth, today I do not really have a point. This time of year I am just so ready for the cold to be over that my brain does not really move on to much else. I think if you have been around here for a little while, I think this time of year is when I post the least. I am so ready for sun, warmth, daylight, and more riding. I will not say anything more about whether or not winter is locking up for the season, but I do know it is really starting to green up and the daylight changes tonight!

THE herd. The crew. Minus one who is just out of view.

All of that said, you might find it funny that I am currently sitting on the patio of a restaurant, by a river, in 33 deg F weather. I have a problem. It is just so pretty. I almost can not feel my fingertips as I write. There is a slight breeze with ducks playing in the water. The sun is just breaching around the buildings. The sky is blue and the high is supposed to be above 60 today. However this is a vacation of sorts. I am out of town with my family for my little cousin’s wedding. It may be cold, but it will be stunning.

It reminds me of a breakfast on a patio I had in Paris, France, watching the passers by.

My boys and me. Just us three.

Coffee and a mimosa brunch are in order for sure. I just poured a fresh, steaming cup. In the natural way of things, I have been up for over an hour waiting for my family to wake up and get moving. This is normally my favorite time to write to you! Since they are related to me, I just got a message that half of them are up and coming down, so I might have to leave for a minute.

Lito and I enjoying the sun.

Anyway, I just want to remind everyone to take a breath and love themselves. Forgive yourself and those around you.

Just enjoying a moonlit farm evening.

It is interesting being out in public. Especially driving. People are all in such a rush and a hurry with seemingly no regard for anyone or anything else. Slow down. Take a breath. Try not to cut people off in your haste and hurry. That is how you hurt people and damage things. Dramatic, I know, but it is truth.

Just sitting with my Cheetah in the sun. Can you see Merle on the run?

I am just reminding myself and all of you, dear readers, to slow down. Take a breath and smell the roses! Life is so very short. You will get there when you get there. Try to brighten the world with the steps you take. Smile at people. Wave when you change lanes.

We have forgotten how to be neighbors. I think that is the point.

We are all together in this world. If you are late, you’re late, that is OK. You will get there when you get there, but don’t make others late.

I think that is all for today. I had much more to say, but in another natural way of things, they have all left me as I enjoy the beauty around me. Be happy dear readers. Enjoy who is around you and what you have today.

As always, walk in love, dear readers. I will be back soon!

E Hele Aloha.

Aloha, Hawaii.

Or, ‘A Plenty More Huger Hawaiian Adventure.’

…Or, ‘That Time My Photos Almost Broke The Blog.’ This one is pretty apt as it has taken quite a bit of time to get all of these up and I was worried I was going to lose the draft from crashing! As in, it did crash at one point.

If you follow all the goings-ons on Instagram and Facebook, you probably saw (a little while ago now) some of the play by play action of our trip, but I did not show everything! It has been crazy busy over here ever since I got back…so here we are looking back at my amazing trip. Texas is currently doing crazy winter things down here and I am sitting here with my second cup of coffee trying to get warm after feeding, watering, and mucking. We had frozen in shards falling from the sky yesterday and it is still stuck to the ground, fences, and deck. I am not going to lie, I have been having flash backs to last year’s winter-pocalypse. Anyway, enough of that. Let us dream of a tropical paradise by horseback, shall we?

Here is the thing. I know I have shared this before, but life is about taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way. You have no way of knowing what will still be available or what will happen tomorrow, in a week, next year, or five years from now. I have been kicking myself ever since Cousin A and R moved back to the states from Germany. Lost opportunity!

I love to travel and want to do more of that and experience local life, food, drink, and music. I love to ride horses and I want to not only do more of that, but I want to do it everywhere I go.

So, when Aunt M said to me, “Hey, I am going to visit K and B and go whale watching, you should come,” I quickly found myself saying, “You know what, I really should. Let us do it.” That is how the ‘plenty more huger’ Hawaiian adventure was hatched.

You see, K and B live on Maui and have for many years. K and B are my Uncle K and Aunt B, Aunt M and my Pops‘ Brother and Sister in Law. I had been to Hawaii once before many years ago as a kid with my family to visit and I basically only remember bits and pieces. They have always been so generous in always having their home open to family and friends for a visit. They also have this very close friend, L, who has horses on the island. Over the last few years hearing about K and B’s niece that loves to ride horses, L has told them several times that if I ever make it out for a visit, she would take me riding. Now, people say that kind of stuff all the time. I won’t lie, I have found myself doing it too. People do not always mean it, but every time I would talk with K and B, they would tell me about L and her horses and how she will take me riding.

I got to thinking, how many times does not only the offer of a place to stay, but also the offer to ride have to be made and not taken advantage of for me to come out the dummy? No more times, that is the answer! Once I committed, I quickly went and sent L a Facebook message so we could get to planning.

That is basically the back story. I wanted to ride and, well, do all the things and Aunt M wanted to see whales and the volcano. So, we planned for all of that!

We will skip over the Covid frenzy part of traveling and move straight on to the fun. While it may appear that fun was had all the way from conception to the time we landed upon our return, I will not lie and say that I was still very concerned and reserved until the moment we were on the last leg of our journey from Honolulu to Maui. I was very worried about not being granted entrance to Hawaii because of Covid. Blessedly, all that worry was for not….what is that I have said many times before about worrying for not? Something about a bunch of wasted energy?! Yes, that.

Anyway, I worried for not and enjoyed a mimosa with my breakfast while Aunt M and I waited to board the plane departing Houston.

After we boarded the plane, we then turn ourselves around and deplaned to keep things interesting. They said there was some mechanical problem. There was also a large connecting flight from somewhere that was delayed. And, I suppose, there is also Covid. This gave me time for another mimosa back in the airport! We ended up getting a new plane and were finally on our way.

With all the ‘keeping things interesting’ in our flights, we ended up being quite delayed. I do not even remember when we were originally supposed to land, I think 4 PM, but we did not get to K and B’s house until close to midnight.

All was quickly forgotten with local takeout at home followed by the first sunrise, a hot cup of coffee on the deck, and the first ride of the trip later that morning.

So, ya, the first ride. Um. I had never met L in person. We became Facebook friends when I knew I was coming. We messaged some back and forth about scheduling and experience, etc. I met her that morning when B dropped me at the driveway of her house.

But. She took me riding at Peahi. Just, you know, to casually view Jaws from up on the cliff horseback. No. Big. Deal.

EPIC.

Epic does not even touch the experience. Pictures also do not do it justice.

I mean. “Welcome to Hawaii,” L said with a big smile. I mean, is that Hawaiian for, “Hold my beer?”

I rode a lovely bay paint mare named Dreamer and she seemed to have as much fun as me. I felt somewhat like a kid in a candy store. I had already had this idea that I want to build all my travel around riding, and this ride just pretty much cemented that. If you can not ride there, I am just not so sure I want to go there. Horses are pretty cool in that way though, they are entrenched in society and human history, they are almost everywhere!

The waves were up and the pictures just do not show it. We could literally see the little ant sized surfers on the crazy waves.

To say L and I got on well would be an understatement. We are just two crazy little horse girls on the inside. The age difference meant nothing. When M and K picked me up after riding, M said we were both just beaming and I am not one bit surprised.

Driving around after the ride, I was just so struck by how scenic and dynamic this place is. Both the landscape and the weather. I was fascinated.

The crazy thing is, many views made me think of Ireland. My next place to go is either Ireland or New Zealand.

We all cooked dinner together at the house a lot so we could enjoy the sunsets on the deck. One does not have to twist my arm to do and enjoy that.

The arc of the sun this time of year from the house is amazing as it rises and sets symmetrically over the mountain.

For the second ride, L wanted me to try her young horse Carino, which means sweetheart. A super cute four year old bay, polo bred gelding. We just had a relaxed time doing horse things. Grooming, talking, riding. It was off and on raining while we were playing and it did not matter. We were just enjoying being able to ride and enjoy each other and horses and the scenery. I swear, you can see the ocean from pretty much everywhere. I suppose logically, that is not really a surprise, but it was kind of a surprise to me. Or, maybe just more fascination.

We had picnic lunches on the beach with wine while the whales blew in the distance.

We went on a Humpback whale watch boat with the Pacific Whale Foundation. Stop now if you are looking for a picture of a whale and just go google it or something. While we did see many whales, we chose not to waste our watching trying to take pictures of them. The pictures are in my memory! In real life, most of the whale action was far enough away to just not be worth the shutter click. We just did not want to miss anything and take away from the experience by trying to catch it on the camera. It really was super exciting though. We were in the moment and all had fun. It was fun to see kids and adults alike act like kids, me included, the minute we saw a whale. And, goodness, the views. I did snap some pics of the view. That evening’s sunset was enjoyed on the boat surrounded by whales.

They do call it the rainbow state and I did see one little piece of a rainbow. Better than none!

On another ride L took me to ride with one of her friends at this sustainable farm. Again with the ocean view! We also saw a couple NeNe, the Hawaiian state bird. It is some level of endangered or was? They have one mate and breed for life. Anyway, it is apparently a big deal to see one. On this day we saw two! I rode Carino again and L said she wanted me to ride him the rest of my visit!

We went on a dinner cruise with Champaign and cocktails being serenaded by whales, you know, no big deal. The whales were literally right by the boat.

Uncle K and I hiked some of the crater together…and we saw A WHOLE FAMILY OF NENE. An adult breeding pair and two very small goslings. You can not really see the babies in the pictures, but trust me, they were there.

After the hike, we picked up Aunt M and enjoyed a wine flight tasting at the vineyard. Then L and I had another relaxed horse afternoon. It is just a jungle everywhere!

Another beautiful sunrise. Sitting on the deck watching the sun never got old. That will never change no matter where I am.

I am not really quite sure what I loved most about this trip. Well, obviously the riding, but our day trip to the big island to visit the volcano was pretty dang, um, epic. What other word is there? It was a bucket list item for Aunt M. We hopped on a commuter plane for a day trip. It was a long day, but boy it was something. We could see whales playing from the sky. We saw the steam and vents. We drove the crater and all the way to the coast through the old lava flows. We saw another breeding pair of NeNe! We watched the sunset and the reflection of the lava on the steam with cocktails and dinner. No big deal. The red glow in the darkness around the last of the sunset reminded me of a pit fire here in Texas.

I tried to take pictures of our flight back to Maui that night, but they did not turn out. The moon was almost full and you could see the waves on the shore of Maui as we were flying.

We went to a luau in Lahaina and watched the sun set there.

On our last ride, we rode the pineapple fields. I was being silly apparently and did not take an actual picture of said pineapples in the fields. Oops. I was distracted because it smelled like pineapples and of the view up ahead.

We went for a lovely dinner out on the water in Kihei. Afterwards, I went to the moonlit beach to stick my feet in the water. I went to bed with sand still on my toes. Judge me if you wish!

We watched the moon set and the sun rise on our last full day morning.

We went up the hill to enjoy the view and watch the parasailers and then went to the lavender farm.

We had a little hike to some waterfalls where the young and old alike were having grand times.

We had my new Aunt L over for our last sunset and her birthday dinner. I baked a pomegranate cheesecake to celebrate her birthday and as a little thank you for all of her generosity in taking me riding almost every day. We got to ride so much, I did not even take pictures every time. I do not think I could do anything to thank her enough.

A welcome back to stateside with the moon over San Francisco. It was a long ride back!

Mahalo.

E hele aloha e na makamaka heluhelu.

Walk in love, dear readers!

I am out of words and pictures for this trip. I think that is a blessing!

Say yes to the opportunities and adventures!

A Tale of Two Christmas Cakes.

Well, not so much as a tale tale but a Merry Christmas everyone!

Just a few days late…

Merriest of Christmases to each and every one of you and yours. May the many blessings of our Lord shower upon you. Peace, love, and joy. Keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long. 

It has been rather hot down here in Texas and Christmas day was north of 80 degrees F I believe. My horses were sweating on Sunday just grazing. I think we are supposed to get a cold snap here this weekend, but it does not generally feel very winterey to me. I for one and perfectly OK with that after last year. I know there are many that feel the same and we are all praying that we do not have the same experience this coming year.

Even still, I attempted to create a little winter with my Christmas desserts. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Or something like that?

I present to you a gilded Christmas, winter forest in the form of a chocolate cheesecake cake complete with decorated trees. Two rich, dark chocolate cake layers with a creamy and sinful cheesecake layer in the middle, all wrapped in cream cheese frosting.

This cake was actually for a party the weekend before Christmas. I figured, so long as the inside is good, it does not much matter what the outside looks like. Just do it! I think it turned out pretty well! It is abstract, OK?! If you don’t bid, you don’t win. I think I won.

Christmas morning brought a cookie for the Merley before completing my next cake.

The ultimate Christmas morning scene in the form of a cheesecake (my friend blamed me for the cream cheese shortage…). A spiced cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, glazed in white chocolate ganache, and decorated with homemade gingerbread cookies.

It was all worth it in the end, even if I was cursing myself by the time Christmas morning actually did roll around. I baked the cheesecake and prepared the gingerbread dough on Thursday evening. Merle and I danced and listened to music in the kitchen while I went about the mixing and baking.

Then on Friday, it was gingerbread cookie central. They are worth it, take my word for it, but man! Rolling and cutting cookies…and then decorating said cookies is so much work! It took all morning and then I had to wrap the presents! Luckily for me, it was not too many and I was able to get them all quite quickly. I do not often make cut out cookies for the simple reason that it takes so long. I forgot apparently when I saw the cover of Southern Living and came up with this plan. I remembered about the time I had two trays left to bake and realized how much decorating I needed to do. Anyhow, for a first time attempt at gingerbread cookies and royal icing, I think they turned out pretty great! I am glad I did it. It was fun and it all tasted delicious.

What is a dreamy Christmas morning without horses under the tree?

I really wanted to put an ice skater on top of that white chocolate ganache.

I hope you enjoyed! Did you make or do anything fun this year for Christmas??? Fun fact, I actually have a couple cakes to make for people because of these cakes!

Walk in love, dear readers!

The Dad Approach.

Or, ‘The Friday Night Bubbles.’ You choose. Brace yourselves for an evening post…and a Friday night post at that!

I am normally a morning poster. Sue me, I am a morning person, it is my time of day, but the mood struck so here we are. One must capitalize on the mood, right?! That is what it is all about. I remember when I first started this blog, I did a bunch of research on how to create a successful ‘site.’ Much of the advice centered around making sure you post at the most opportune time to get the click traffic. This is decidedly not that time! There is quite a bit of advice I did not follow! Enough about all of that.

I have been baking this fine Friday evening for a Christmas party tomorrow night. A chocolate cheesecake cake with cream cheese frosting. Say that five times fast, I dare you. It will be ‘abstractly’ decorated like a winter forest. You know, since we do not have white Christmases down here. More on the cake later.

This has historically been a very festive and fun weekend to stay in town with all the parties, especially when the weather will be less than agreeable (you know I will make it out the farm at some point or…points, do not worry). I almost wrote about a Texas Christmas because of our very Texas weather, can you imagine?! How boring. Except, really, our weather is very Texas-ey this month). On December 1st I had intentions of posting almost every day with joyful Christmassy things to make everyone happy and joyful. I got as far as a couple fun and festive photo shoots and the rest just did not happen. Sigh. Life happens, what can I say? I apologize for the let down!

These are the only new pictures I have. This is real life. The real faces of Christmas ponies. Covered in molasses protein tub…and a human shadow…

Yes, you see Twinkle Toes glitter. Judge me. I dare you.

You really can not not love a molasses covered horse face.

Anyway, I have been baking and dancing in the kitchen with my Merle while the music plays. I would like to say that we are jamming to Christmas music (which I am sure all of you would have guessed), but in truth, we are listening to music from my ‘college days’ (lawd, so good. I swear, it is still the best music I have ever listened to). That seems a strange statement as university seems like only yesterday…it has been about ten years since I graduated. That is very strange. Again, not the point.

Get on with it. Ya, sorry.

OK, there are a couple of things.

As I sit here sipping some bubbley while the chocolate cake layers cool (the cheesecake layer is already baked, cooled, and in the refrigerator), there are a multitude of things that get my memories and thoughts flowing…and, er, bubbling.  

Blame it, all of this, on the bubbley. It would not be the first time the bubbley was blamed for something.

It occurred to me at some point today that I have purchased almost zero presents. Yikes. Although, these days we have generally all agreed to only really get gifts for the kids, but those are the most important ones! I have a couple of things that I purchased months ago, but that does not cover the need. I have some work to do! It reminds me of my Pops’ approach to purchasing gifts. He always seems to buy ALL of his gifts the week of Christmas. Yes, I know. I do not know how he does it either. Do not ask. I have always wondered, do other fathers do this? I think this is just a man thing?

When I was younger, there were times I would go with him that very week of Christmas to purchase and then deliver his gifts after I wrapped them. It was a marvel to me, and I wondered if all dads did that. One time, I was with him when he purchased my Christmas gift. It was most likely all three of our gifts. We were at REI and he pulled several high quality wool socks of the shelf and had me carry them as we shopped and then checked out. After we got home, he had me wrap them, as per usual. All of them. Side note, I have always liked to wrap gifts. Cousin H and I used to wrap all of my Grandmother’s gifts for her. We discovered that she would unwrap my cousin’s wrapped presents and have me rewrap them because I was better at it. Anyway, back to the story, I am not quite sure how I never realized it, but my Pops had me wrapping my own present! I remember myself laughing so hard when I opened that present and then Pops having a good chuckle. I have always liked the socks he got me. They have certainly come in handy over the years. I have always thought that a dad should buy their children good wool socks because you just never know when you will need them. I have needed them quite a bit. He gave me more when I went off to college. One birthday while I was away at school he messaged me to tell me happy birthday. I thanked him and told him I was wearing a pair of the socks he gave me. He said he was happy I was warm.

My Eldest Sister A has done this too, except I did not have to wrap this one. She was purchasing Breyer model horses for me and for a barn kid she was babysitting. She took me along when she was shopping to try and get a feel for which one I would like best. Well, I remember that Breyer pony she ended up giving me quite well to this day. She was a pony. A very refined and fine boned specimen. She possibly had some Arabian blood. You could tell by the profile of her head. All my Breyers are packed away in a closet upstairs, but she was like a greying, flea bitten chestnut in color. So loved by me, at least one of her legs had to be glued back on, likely two legs. You did not love your Breyer horses unless you broke a leg or two.

I digress. I am clearly following in the footsteps of my forebearers and utilizing the dad approach in the present buying. I have some work to do!

What really has all the memories and thoughts flowing is that I was smacked in the face today when I got home. I love this time of year getting Christmas cards in the mail. One of the cards I got today took my breath away before I even took it out of the mailbox. The handwriting on it looked just like H’s. I just stared at it for a long while and could not breathe for a bit. I almost swore that it was her until I saw the return address label which actually caused some great confusion in my brain. I took a deep breath and snagged my mail like a thief before a neighbor thought something was amiss. The card was obviously not from H, but she would always send a Christmas card with their Border Collies on it. I just loved that she did that and that I always got one from her and M. She was also so good at sending people cards in the mail in general, whether or not it was a special occasion. Just because. She had reason to hate this time of year, but she did not. This was H’s time of year and she brought us all such joy. I also used to talk to her while I baked or cleaned. I do not have anything else to say about that other than I just miss her. Still. Always will. I look forward to when I see something like that and I just smile.

Thanks for being here for me and for reading to the end of this Friday night holiday ramble. What is this holiday season bringing to your mind?

Walk in love, dear readers. Have some holiday fun this weekend!

Happy December.

Onwards and upwards, right?!

I am dubbing this December, “Happy December.”

Just go with it, it is a thing, OK!?

I do not know about y’all, but this 2021 year is trying to finish out worse than that other year. So, I have decided to just not let it be that way. December does not have a choice. With your help, we are going to make this a rockin’ awesome December! Trust me, we can gang up on it and make it so! Check back here all month for happy things! We are going to use this month to solidify our Christmas spirit so we can take it with us into the new year 2022. (Yikes, that sounds funny! 2022! How did we already get there?!)

So, just for you, on this first day of this joyous month, I am dragging out the tried and true.

Yes, I know I share these every year, but they are so dang cute and happy. I am just gearing you up for this year’s pictures! Besides, how do these not make you joyous?!

Walk in love, dear readers, have a great Wednesday and an even better December 2021!

If you have anything happy and joyous to share, share it with me!

The Saddest Thanksgiving.

Here is a VERY long story about the saddest Thanksgiving made incredibly short.

You will thank me later.

Once upon a time in the year 2021, my family celebrated Thanksgiving by gathering at the farm for the whole week.

All were excited as groceries were stuffed into the refrigerator and pantry. Plans were made. Activities were scheduled.

Tuesday rolled around and…

Avery got sick.

Very sick.

The world felt like it stopped, but spoiler alert, it did not. Thanksgiving came and went as I slept the week away. It was the gift that nobody wanted!

There was no cooking, no baking, and no eating. Or drinking. No riding. No music listening. No fire sitting.

The End.

Not!

Well, not about the sick part. I was that. Very sick. I am still not one hundred percent, but I am getting there.

The ‘end’ part, that is what I am talking about. It was and is not the end! Is that not a relief?!

Dear readers, today is a new day! The actual day of Thanksgiving may have been a bust, but that does not mean you can not have the gratefulness and gratitude all year long. Or the food and togetherness. AHA moment. You heard it here first, y’all.

It is like embodying the Christmas spirit all year long. It is the same with Thanksgiving!

What are you grateful for? Remember and do not forget or take it for granted.

And speaking of Christmas…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! All year long! Get ready!

Walk in love, dear readers, and have a grateful Tuesday! Get your coffee or tea down and get ‘er done!

He Was Ours.

What words does one find and use for a man that stepped up when he didn’t have to? There really are none. Sometimes I really do wish I was an animal so I wouldn’t have use such a measly form of expression. I have been wracking my brain and avoiding this ever since I was asked to put some words down. The truth is, my Grandmother would not have chosen a different man. Harry was that man. Harry was my Grandfather. He was our Grandfather even if blood did not make it so.

My Grandfather Harry went to his Heavenly home last week after a long and blessed life. He was almost 99 years old. It was not that long ago that he was still mobile and independent and his mind was his pretty much until the end. He is now whole and free. There is no more of the pain and suffering.

He lived quite a life. He was a decorated war veteran. He was a career man. There is much that can be said, but more importantly than all of that, he was a family man. A Son, a Brother, a Husband, a Father, a Grandfather, a Great Grandfather.

We were blessed with and by him. He was ours and we were his. I always felt this. Sometimes when I would call them and he would answer the phone, he would immediately say, “Hold on, I’ll go get her.” My response would always be, “Harry, I want to talk to you too.”


There is a picture somewhere of him that shows him. Him. Who he was to the core to all of us, if I can be so bold as to speak for others in my family. It is somewhere and I can not find it. It wasn’t staged or posed. He wasn’t wearing a suit or a uniform dressed with medals. He wasn’t alone. He didn’t have a young man’s head of hair. Although, he always had good hair. It was that beautiful white gray. Oddly enough I do not think my Grandmother was even in the picture, which is crazy because they were always together! She might have been behind the camera. She is always taking pictures.

It was at a long ago birthday party of ours at some big venue I think. There were kids everywhere, visible even in the tight frame.  They were not the focus of the photo. It was one man and one birthday kid. Full of smiles and love and life and color. Vital. He was always smiling.

Man that just smacks me right in the chest right now and has fresh, solitary tears streaming down my cheeks.

I can’t even find the photo.

It seems almost a wonder that the photo was even snapped and caught because in my memory it was somewhat blurry and out of focus with faint streaks of light across it. Taken in a quick flash in low lighting. I think there was even a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. The photographer trying to enjoy the moment and create a lasting memory at the same time.

There was a big slide wherever this party was being held and right there in the middle of it, sliding down the slide like a kid himself, was Harry with one of us three girls in his lap. Both smiling in delight. I don’t even think you’re supposed to do that with kids these days. Something about ripping their arms and legs off. I think kids are supposed to wear harnesses and seatbelts now. Anyway.

I can’t find the picture.



My Grandmother used to always have freezer waffles for me in the mornings when I would sleep over as a kid. Nobody could prepare them like her and it could not be recreated at home. At some point in time, and I do not know why, Harry started making waffles and I never gave another thought to freezer waffles. Every time after that when I would sleep over, we would have Harry’s waffles. He made the world’s best waffles. We all loved his waffles. He whipped the egg whites by hand to fold into the batter. That made them light, and airy in texture on the inside, but they also had a lovely crisp on the outside.

They loved to go out to breakfast as a couple. When I stopped sleeping over at their house, I started to join them for breakfast sometimes. Harry found the best waffles at Le Peep and that came to be the only place we would go as the three of us so Harry and I could get waffles. I still think they are the best waffles if you can not have Harry’s waffles. They used to also have a standing date with a big table at a local Tex-Mex restaurant on Sunday evenings. It was almost like a revolving door dinner in my mind, even if I did say I was crashing their dinner when I would invite myself to come. Whoever wanted to come could come. Like when he would go to breakfast, he generally ordered the same things for dinner there too.

Harry knew that I liked to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen. At some point before he married my Grandmother he had collected recipes and organized them in a recipe box. Every time he saw an interesting recipe, he would just store it away. He told me that he had not even looked at them since he married my Grandmother. He gave me his box of recipes that he had held on to for all those years. I loved to get Harry’s feedback on my desserts at our family gatherings. He was always very thoughtful and honest. He was a great listener and not just of words.


He always did the dishes. I don’t ever remember not having an awareness of him doing the dishes. It was his thing. There was nothing to ‘get’ or understand about it. It was his thing. The first time I tried to help him, he all but shooed me out of the kitchen. It was his domain after a meal was prepared. I don’t know if it was his little quiet in our family craziness or just what he did. He finally did let me help after my insistence, but we had to do it his way. So we did. He taught me how to use the disposal. I always wondered how he did the dishes so quickly!


When my Grandparents would come to the farm, Harry would always take time for a walk down the lane. Before he would bring a cane, he would find a sturdy and straight stick of pecan wood to use as a walking stick. Sometimes others would join him on his walk and sometimes he would go by himself, but he would always come back with a gathering of pecans. I think the pecans he gathered on one of his last walks a few years ago entertained my cousin’s daughter, L, for a good long while after we taught her how to use a nut cracker.


At my Grandmother’s birthday celebration last year, we gathered in their back yard to have sandwiches and cupcakes. You see they have one of the best yards. Harry meticulously cared for their yard and flower beds for as long as I can remember. There was always something beautiful to look at and, man, their lawn! It is a great lawn. We had many great Easter egg hunts in that yard. I think all of us cousins look at a yard and think what it would be like to have an Easter egg hunt there because of our memories there. Anyway, we celebrated my Grandmother’s birthday out there. Covid gave us an excuse to. My cousins were there with their kids and I was there with Merle. Harry came over to me in his wheelchair and told me to go shut the driveway gate so I could let my pup off the leash. He wanted him to play with the kids in the yard and on the lawn. To be free, like the kids in that way of kids. I do not really even know if he was really a dog man, but he always was happy to let me go on about my animals. I gladly did as he asked and shut the gate. As the two of us watched kids and dog play in the yard he said to me, “Your Grandmother and I always dreamed of having all the kids play in this yard.” I do not think his smile ever looked so big and bright. I wonder if that is why he always kept it just so.  

Well, Harry, your dream came true. At least in my eyes.


Ever faithful. Ever constant. Ever present.

He was a presence in our lives.

I remember him like he was in this video. He was 91 in this video. What a man! What a life!

Walk in love, dear readers.

Go be with your loved ones. Share your love and memories.