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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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!
Well, I guess that would be a happy belated Thanksgiving, but who is counting? Not me. It is the season, you know?!
I just wish we had more days to bask in it.
Oh well. In all seriousness, I have so much to be grateful for. I can barely count them all.
I am obviously thankful for this guy. He was worn out before Thanksgiving even started!
All of our holidays, not just Thanksgiving, mean a lot of cooking. It is something we all love to do and…to enjoy! Everyone brings something when we all gather together. I am thankful for that! And the simple fact that we can be gathered together. I am also thankful that I can do my part and that I can share my creations with everyone.
This year for Thanksgiving, I was on point for cranberry sauce and dessert.
A good cranberry sauce, to me, looks like a party in a bowl.
Cranberries. Apples. Green chili pepper. Orange juice and zest…Grand Marnier. Sage. Noms.
I told you, a party! You will not have much left after the meal.
We took a break from the cooking to play. It is hard work for a puppy!
Then it was time for pie. Chocolate pecan pie, to be precise. Made Thanksgiving morning. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love to make a dessert the morning of a holiday in my pajamas. It is more fun. It brings it more meaning to me. Gives it the proper perspective of doing it unto Him for my loved ones. Made with joy and love. It makes the unveiling and enjoying that much sweeter to me.
Anyway, I digress. This pie. I have never really made a pie before (I know, this is surprising to me too), but this one is a total winner. I even made my own pie crust. That is worth it if you were wondering. Just saying. Next time I think I will freeze the butter and shortening. I also think I might do a slight pre-bake of the crust before adding the filling for baking.
I am not the biggest fan of the salted caramel on this pie though. I think it was the added lemon. Not sure why you would do that, but I suppose the point is to keep it from being too sweet? Anyway, I did not really care for it when I tried it and did not really notice it much on the pie itself. I much prefer this one I made for a different dessert. I could eat it all by itself.
I followed the recipe mostly. I used a mixture of molasses and honey in place of the corn syrup. I do not keep corn syrup around and prefer not to use it if I do not have to. There are substitute options out there if you are like me. I also could not help it and added coconut to the fulling. Whoops. What can I say??? I am shameless. I think I also baked it for longer than stated in the recipe.
The filling is divine right off the spoon! If you are not licking the spoon and or bowl, you a’int no baker! It is the only way.
Fortification for pie baking. There is a little known life fact that coffee, well all beverages, taste best out of a fun and festive vessel. I know. I know. You are so glad to learn that. You can count on me for those little life secrets.
The finished pie sprinkled with flaked salt!
My mouth is watering now. Too bad there were not any leftovers. That is a sign of a good pie I guess!
After our Thanksgiving lunch, I quite literally sneaked out in a mad dash, grabbed Merle, and made to the farm before dark. I sure am thankful for the farm. Our horses. And that I have the ability to be mobile! To see different things and visit different people!
I woke up early on Friday and had a lovely foggy ride on Chance before hitting the road with Merle again for more Thanksgiving fun with M.
We all went for a drive around the property and Merle just could not contain himself. He clearly loves driving around! And hey, who doesn’t?!
The face of a happy dog. He is all boy, this one.
This is quickly becoming his signature look.
The weather was cloudy, windy, and drizzly, but that did not dampen our spirits whatsoever.
Merle was so tired, he could barely keep his eyes open past 6 PM. A tired dog is a happy dog! Catching some z’s is hard for a pup when his mom does not sit still for very long. Poor guy!
Who knows, maybe Merle will start moonlighting as a model.
He sure is handsome. I am not biased at all.
I am thankful for the eyes to see the joy in this pup. And how serious he takes his fetch.
In case y’all did not know, pure and utter luxury is going for an early morning swim, in the drizzle, in the wee hours before the sun is ready to play. Or anyone else for that matter, human or canine.
And moving so fast the camera can not catch you.
Maybe this is his artistic expression for his modeling portfolio. Ghost dog.
He swam about five times before anyone else was awake. I had two cups of coffee. We like to wake up early.
It was only a quick twenty four hour visit, but we sure had the best time. It was fun and relaxing. No agenda. No pressure. Just good company and fellowship. And dogs (four in total! Merle had a blast)!
It did not matter that the weather was rather gloomy. We were just out and enjoying everything. Giving thanks for it all. That we could. Why we could. How we got here. For family, friends, loved ones. For country and dogs. For food. For comfortable, warm, dry places to rest. For horses!
The next day brought the blue skies out in full force while I rode my Cheetah girl down the road. Merle and I had zero desire to go back to town.
I hope each and every one of y’all had a great Thanksgiving. Did you count your blessings? What are you grateful for?
Look around you. There is so much to be grateful for. Not just this time of year. All year. Yes, it is the reason for the season, but it also too is the reason for all the seasons. For this very life.
Now we are in full on Christmas season! My decorations are out and I have planned what I will be making for our gatherings! You will have to wait for those though. To tide you, you can check out last year’s creations!
I have some fun things to share soon to help get you in the spirit, so there is a lot to look forward to. Check back soon!
I meant to write to you yesterday. Sigh. This week after Thanksgiving has started out as a busy one. Seemingly as busy as Thanksgiving itself.
But enough about that.
I know what you really want.
…A cheesecake fully dressed for the party…
By the way, making chocolate ganache and salted caramel is super easy. You should give it a try. Especially the salted caramel. More than worth it. Yikes, so good!
Oh, sorry. I can not give you any of that. Darn. You are just going to have to go and make it for yourself.
Do not fret about that though. I have something else for you.
How about ride time videos? Between the ears photos? Two great sunsets? A special lunar surprise? You ask, and I shall deliver. I am here for y’all, dear readers.
After we did the big Thursday Thanksgiving meal and all day hangout thing (lots of drinking, lots of eating, lots of talking late into the night), we headed out the farm early Friday morning for more of the same.
First I rode Chance to go check the cows and make sure he was all ready for the kids. He was lazy, just like I like him.
There is nothing like the wind in the pecan trees.
No such thing as too much of a good thing, as they say, so naturally I hopped on Cheetah after Chance.
She was a bit on the feisty side on Friday. It was a bit of a screaming mare day!
I can not ever get enough of my sunsets which is why I share so many of them with you. Truly a unique painting directly from God’s hand every time. The clouds got in the way of all the sunrises though.
I have not shown you one of these in a while. The moon rising. It was pretty dang epic until the clouds decided to come back for another party. I am just glad they cleared up for the beginning of this.
Saturday morning was for the kids. Niece L helped me groom and tack up before we walked all over the horse pasture. Then Nephew H had his turn going to check the cows and riding all on his own in the round pen before untacking, grooming, treat stuffing, and turning Chance back out with the others.
Cheetah was an angel on Saturday evening. I swear she may have given me a look that said, “thank goodness you are more relaxed today. I really just wanted to stroll around.”
Sunsets, creaky saddles, and the dun colored ears of the best mare.
Sorry, not sorry! More sunsets.
I got home later than my usual last night with full intentions of cooking dinner for myself and even doing laundry. You know, being a good adult and all that. Between the hour and the darkness of winter evenings, I walked in the door and threw that plan out the window as I was finishing up a phone call. Now that is what I call being a good adult! Ha, I jest.
But, hey, I did unpack my car (mostly) and put some things away. At least there is that!
For nights like those, having a freezer stash, a cheesy Christmas movie, and some quiet down time is where it is at.
So, I did just that while putting a few Christmas decorations out.
I am grateful to have had the quality time with the family that I did, enjoy some great meals, be at the farm, and have some much needed saddle time.
It left me wanting more. More of all of the above. More time with my people. All of them. More time at the farm. More time behind those dun colored ears. Less minutia.
I hope everyone had a grand Thanksgiving if you celebrate it.
Do not forget to allow time slow down this time of year! Take a deep breath and enjoy it, whatever Thanksgiving brings your way this year.
I somehow forgot until Sunday afternoon that Thanksgiving is indeed this Thursday. As in a few days from now. Completely slipped my mind. Go figure that and get back to me. It is not like I have been talking about Thanksgiving and the season and being mindful or anything.
Anyway. I remembered while I was in the grocery store to pick up a couple things to make some chili. I do believe I made it out with everything I need. Here is the kicker. Without a list! Another fact you could spend more than an iota pondering, but I will not spend my time doing that.
This year I am making the best cheesecake, but with a twist this time. A topping of chocolate ganache and salted caramel with pecans. I am also making my fancy cranberry sauce as per usual (if you have never made or had cranberry sauce from scratch, you are missing out) and the best sweet potatoes. Then, for Thanksgiving round two, I will be making some kind of gluten free dessert for my Pop’s birthday. Stay tuned for more recipes and final results!
If you are reading this and are surprised much like I was that Thanksgiving is this week, fear not, you are not alone! Do not feel bad! You have buckets of that thing called time. Trust me.
Being as it is the Monday before Thanksgiving and life is crazy and time is trying to speed by and you may find yourself wanting it to go away and memories and and and, I have something for you. For all of us.
Big in thanks and giving, yes, much gratitude. We have much to be thankful for.
Also big in numbers. Number of people. An abundance of family and friends. Tons of conversation and laughter. Bucket loads of love. Many dogs. Food, food, and more food (and booze). And not just any food, great food. I have to say, I am surrounded by talented people. Pretty much all of them are great cooks!
Some sadness, yes. That can not be denied, but I have to say, I think we all did a great job focusing on the positive and being grateful for each other. Which is what Thanksgiving is all about.
This particular Thanksgiving was long in a sense that it felt like it lasted from last weekend to today. Even with all the regular day to day things, like work, and all the preparation and cooking, it somehow felt like vacation.
Now, I know some of you will be in disbelief upon reading this. Or even rolling your eyes at me. But in all honesty, it did. I am sitting here with my coffee trying to psych myself up for this work Monday.
The weekend before Thanksgiving week (after the Charlotte Dujardin clinic…which I still need to write up for you…sorry, I will get to it. In short, it was great and I shattered my phone screen) I spent at the farm by myself. It was a terribly therapeutic weekend. Strong and funny language, I know, but stay with me. It was both releasing and restorative.
After taking care of some errands and chores during the day on Saturday, I quickly saddled up Chance and went for a sunset ride.
Then I built a fire in the pit, hit play on some great music, made a cocktail, and sat down with my dog to watch the last of the sunset with the northern front at my back. Drew Kennedy has a live album titled Sad Songs Happily Played which acted like my own personal concert in the best venue.
Sunday started early and chilly.
I took a little drive in my pajamas while the horses ate with my dog, coffee, and music. Because I could. I started listening to Dani and Lizzy’s ‘Dancing In The Sky‘ on repeat (I am weird like that) and just allowed the tears to flow. It feels …strange, I guess, to say that. To admit that. But hey, it’s the truth, so there. Sometimes a girl just needs a good cry or two…or three, as was the case on Sunday.
I got dressed and headed out into the sun to catch up my first horse of the day.
I came upon the horses and discovered the three young geldings laying down, having a post breakfast nap with Cheetah standing guard over them. I just could not resist the temptation and sat down with them. The most wonderful thing happened when Cheetah decided she felt comfortable enought to lay down with us. I have no idea how long I sat there with them snoozing, but it was simply glorious. One of them broke the spell and they all got up, so I haltered Cheetah and started grooming.
Keep scrolling for this cow’s newborn on Thanksgiving weekend!
Cheetah decided she was a saucy mare, but her son made up for it by giving me the best ride on him to date. Lito is really starting to put the pieces together and it feels really great. Really learning to travel between my legs and reins and lift his shoulder. Yielding his hindquarters and shoulders. I just need to keep reminding myself he is not farther along because I can only ride on weekends. I need to not push too hard and have it not be fun for him. Well, both of us. He is seriously the most comfortable horse I have ever ridden.
I had a quick ride on Ike after a late lunch on the porch. Then I built myself another fire to close out the day. As one of my dear readers said, I just sat with my feelings and reflected. That is what time alone at the farm is about for me.
I stayed at the farm until Monday morning to meet the farrier before heading back to town and into the office for the short holiday work week.
I took the day off of work on Wednesday to get my cake baked at my parents house and the kitchen cleaned before Thanksgiving. Middle Sister, K, her husband, T, and their dogs were staying at my parents house for the holiday so Darcy had ample entertainment. She is currently passed out after I made her go outside.
Baking is one of my favorite parts of the holidays. This pumpkin cheesecake cake was worth all the work and calories, trust me. It really was not even that much work. Do yourself a favor, and go make it for yourself. Decorating it is also easy peasy, if you want to do that. Which you should because it is fun. And pretty.
My mom’s side of the family and a few friends came to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving lunch. And oh, the food. The food was so good! I am still dreaming about it. We all had a grand time and then loaded up and headed out to the farm just in time for sunset.
I give to you the post Thanksgiving sunrise if you missed it.
Remember that calf I mentioned? We all got to see it right after it was born. You are welcome for the cuteness. I do what I can for you, you know.
Another stunning sunset from the weekend.
On Saturday my dad’s side of the fam came out for lunch and some much needed togetherness and fresh air at the farm.
I took three kids on lead line rides and one solo ride all on Chance. There was so much fun and cuteness, I almost could not even handle it. Chance was so well behaved and we stuffed him with carrots and gave him lots of love.
My cousin got to harvest his first deer which was very exciting for everyone in the family.
I came back out to the barn before bed to give Chance another carrot and to thank him for giving those kids his gifts.
You haz carrot?!
This is a terribly long dump of a post, but there it is. The point is, I am thankful this Thanksgiving and wish I had another day before going back to work.
Thankful I got to enjoy it. Thankful to be surround by loved ones. Thankful to spend time at the farm and create memories. Thankful to ride all the horses. Thankful for cows and calves. Thankful for my happy dog. Thankful to see the sunsets and sunrises. Thankful for music and reflection and fresh air. Thankful that I got to pick out a Christmas tree with my parents and begin decorating. And even thankful for my job that I need to go get ready for.
That is all. Up next, all about the Charlotte Dujardin Clinic!
Walk in love, dear readers! Thank your lucky stars today and every day. Keep in the spirit of thanks and giving.
A year later and I still have no words to describe it. Not the feelings I have. Certainly not the feelings of my family.
Even now as I type these words, it feels so utterly strange. Uncharted territory, even as the first year is up. Different from a year ago, and yet, the same. I am not sure if anyone else in this situation has felt this way. I suppose each is different.
Yesterday I was aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and I wondered to myself, why am I doing this? Something so simple and mindless and downright meaningless? I had that EXACT same thought and feeling a year ago today after I heard the news.
Honestly, I did not want to write this post today and I have been dreading it. I do not want to relive it and do not want certain readers to relive it. It is too close. I did not want to offend or hurt anyone. To dishonor him.
Then it occurred to me that I, or we, do not need a blog post to relive it. It happens all the time. Thankfully, a little less as time goes on. Time heals, little by little. It becomes apparent when you look back. That I know for sure.
I need to write this post. For me. For my family. And for you. For anyone that has ever lost anyone. For him. To celebrate him and his life and his loved ones. The survivors because that is what we are. My Uncle was a beautiful and faithful man. Which makes it even harder at times. I suspect we will never know the answer to why in this earthly life. As is the way with many things we go through. There are no answers.
The only way I know how to honor him is to celebrate this life that I am blessed to have. That I am here to witness the Lord’s beauty around me. To LIVE every minute and celebrate every moment like it is my last. Do what makes my heart smile. Seek the Lord and allow His will to be done through me. To be a blessing to those around me. That is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.
So, that is what I am trying to do and what I try to encourage others to do.
I still pray for us to lean into our Lord in these hard times. To grow together. To grow in our faith together. As a family. It is hard and will continue to be. But we have to. We have to for ourselves and for the next generation.
I hope I have not lost you. For those of you that were not here or do not know the story and would like to, I have linked my writings of the series of events from a year ago below. In sharing these posts again, my only hope is to reach those that need to hear these words. For them to know they are not alone and that there are people that have been through this. That know how they feel. That there is still beauty and light all around us.
Time seems to travel faster this time of year, don’t you think? I mean, Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK. How did that happen?! It has snuck up on me as I am sure it has everyone. For more than one reason.
And now, it is already Tuesday. It still feels like Monday.
Anyway, I am sitting here with my coffee, as I do, you know, reflecting.
Surprisingly enough, wishing it was still Monday. I made a quick trip out to the farm yesterday after work since I did not go out this weekend. At this time of year, I get barely an hour out there with the early sunset, but it is enough to get my fix to get me through the rest of the week.
I did have a great time with my sister and her husband this weekend. It was incredibly relaxing and indulgent. She is having a holiday party next month that we are both getting excited for. It got us both in the spirit. We even made peppermint ice cream from scratch.
When I got home on Sunday, I baked two batches of cookies while drinking coffee with cinnamon and nutmeg. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Chocolate chip oatmeal with pecans and coconut and while chocolate macadamia nut. I owe my farrier a lot of cookies because he is great. I am going to bake my mother’s pumpkin bread this evening for gifts. I just love this time of year!
It all got me thinking how blessed we all are. That we are here and awake this morning. That I got to go up there to visit and stay the weekend. For the quality time with my sister. That I got to see the sunset and love on the horses, however quick. That I have a dog I can take everywhere with me and that she got to have her run time at the farm. That I have a good car to get me where I am going and get me home safe.
That is what this time of year, the holiday season, is all about. Seeing and feeling your many blessings. Being grateful and thankful for them. Doing things for others. That and The Reason for The Season. Giving God the glory. Doing your best to carry that attitude through the rest of the year.
Today I am straight up giddy with the prospect of fall and winter.
Why does it seem like I only ever write about weather lately?
Anyway, slightly, or not so as established above, random, I know. And before you ask, yes, I am aware that it is not even October yet. But a girl can get excited. We are almost there.
Here is what I am ready for:
Holidays, duh. Even if this year will be hard.
Sitting around a fire wearing a sweater. I love sweaters. I love fire. Throw in a cocktail, some great music and people and you got it made.
Baking and cooking and holiday cocktails and getting crafty with my family. And, and, AND!
Frosty mornings with fuzzy horses. Although, I pray not too frosty and cold. Old horses and hard winters are tough. Last winter was pretty bad.
And, dare I say. Christmas and Christmas music and Hallmark Thanksgiving and Christmas movies and Christmas decorations!!! And family time. And food. Man, we have the best Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. My mouth is watering.
Shhhh. I know.
You are thinking that I am crazy and that we are far off from that and hey, don’t forget Thanksgiving. Nope. Not crazy, just excited for one of my favorite times of year. And I never forget about Thanksgiving. They go together. It is the season and spirit of thanks and giving.
Do not you worry, I won’t play a Christmas song now. Even if I did think about. OK fine, I am only not playing it because I can’t find a good video of it.
Sorry, not sorry. People are already starting to decorate for fall!
Walk in love, dear readers, and have a great weekend!
I will be riding and organizing for my trip this weekend…and dreaming of cooler weather. Interestingly enough, we will have slightly cooler weather this weekend.