Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rest in peace my sweet angel

Today we had to say goodbye to our beloved Kora. I lost a special friend today the kind you can't replace. She will be forever in my heart. Although I knew this time was coming, and she's in a better place, I am grief stricken.

Those of us fortunate enough to love and be loved by animals know the exquisite joy and quiet fulfillment that comes from animals living in our hearts. We know there is no turning back from loving animals intensely once we experience this bond. Animals and their love stay in our souls, once we've let them in. And we are better for it, more complete, more whole, more compassionate, and often transformed. Loving this much, we also know the searing pain of losing them.

We aren't house-proud. If we were, we wouldn't abide the scratches on the door-frame, the holes in the screen, the darkened shine of worn spots on the chair. We would wince at the mottled carpet and fret at the hair clinging to our clothes. We don't. If anything, we lovers of dogs are a tolerant lot, finding greater value in the unabashed affection of our friend than immaculate sofa's.
Shoes can be replaced, but heroic retrievers are timeless. Without dogs, out houses are cold recepticles for things. Dogs make a fire warmer with their curled presence. They wake us, greet us, protect us, and ultimately carve a place in our hearts and our history. On reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.
- Paul Fersen, Orvis Associate

Treasured Friend
I lost a treasured friend today
The little dog who used to lay
Her gentle head upon my knee
And shared her silent thoughts with me.
She’ll come no longer to my call
Retrieve no more her favorite ball
A voice far greater than my own
Has called her to his golden throne.
Although my eyes are filled with tears
I thank him for the happy years
He let her spend down here with me
And for her love and loyalty.
When it is time for me to go
And join her there, this much I know
I shall not fear the transient dark
For she will greet me with a bark.
-Author Unknown

"Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really."
-Agnes Sligh Turnbull

"Not the least hard thing to bear when
they go from us, these quiet friends,
is that they carry away with them so
many years of our lives. Yet, if they
find warmth therein, who would
begrudge them those years that they
have so guarded?
And whatever they take,
be sure they have deserved."
--- John Galsworthy ---

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Last week I got the chance to have dinner at the new Domenico Ristorante in Silver Lake. Since we got back from Italy we have had a new appreciation for Italian food.

Amazing food, great ambiance and awesome service. It is a small restaurant with fewer than 50 seats, half of them outside. It is beautifully decorated by Italian Designer Vanni Vezzosi and Ahmad Boyer with an all-white interior and stylish chandeliers. On a side note we sat next to Tim Curry, Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not an utterly huge star, but you can see him in the back of the group shot.
The restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license yet, but you can bring in your own wine with no corkage fee (for the time being). We brought some Italian Wine from the Chianti Classico region. Owner Domenico Frasca, was in the house, and came to talk with us during our meal to make sure that we had a nice experience, he's very friendly and cordial.

We were first served bread and olive oil and then two little deep fried, cheese filled olives--too good!
For appetizers we tried the Calamari e Limoni Fritti (thick, tender strips of calamari served with fried lemons and a savory pine nut romesco),
Capesanti con l’Escarole e Salsa Parmigiano (Plump scallops get a boost of rich flavor from braised escarole and luscious Parmesan cream sauce),

fried zucchini flower stuffed with mozzarella cheese

Fior di Napoli -Imported Mozzarella di Bufala, Organic Tomato and Fresh Basil (buffalo mozzarella in a hollowed out tomato). This was definetly an interesting presentation of my very favorite salad, but the presentation outweighded the taste. I prefer the traditional caprese.

I had the Tuna special, Chad had Cacciucco Toscano - Clams, Mussels, Scallops, Jumbo Prawn and Rock Cod in a Lightly Spicy Tomato Sauce. Mine was great, Chad's was meh. It looked more spectacular than it tasted.

And for dessert...
Torta di Cioccolato e Lamponi - Chocolate Raspberry Tarte served with Crème Chantilly. I love chocolate and raspberries together, pure decadence.
I also tried a bite of the Affogato di Limone e Prosecco - imported Italian lemon sorbet served in a frosted glass bowl, drowning in a pool of Prosecco.
And the Panna Cotta di Miele e Lavande - Honey Lavender Panna Cotta, Pistachio Dust.
Pan di Mandorle e Cantuccini - Traditional Marzipan Cookies and Tuscan Biscotti

Everything was delicious, but the desserts won. It was a great, but pricey meal.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spa Bars

I made soap tonight....from scratch.

I've read alot about how fantastic salt bars are, so I decided to make some. The recipe I used produces a luxurious salt soap bar or 'spa soap' that is a wonderfully creamy soap and creates a thick lotion-like lather which is conditioning to the skin. It very gently exfoliates yet does not feel scratchy at all. It will cleanse the pores helping excreate the daily toxins & pollutants the skin is exposed to. I used an ocean scent in it which smells so good, clean, and relaxing! My whole house smells like it right now.

I can't wait until it cures, so I can try it out!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A nice day...horses, dogs, cat, eating, friends

I'm trying to fully enjoy every last moment I have off of work, because I have a new project starting in the next few freedom will be gone. I am so grateful I have been able to ride everyday.

The reservoir
The dam up the river from the ranch

The San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California are a part of a great barrier that separates the Mojave Desert from the coastlands. They are a transverse range, meaning that they run east west as opposed to the more usual north-south configuration. While James Marshall is credited with the discovery of gold in California on the American River in 1847, it was in the San Gabriel Mountains where the actual first discovery took place. The ranch where my horses live are located in the southern San Gabriel Mountains at the border to Angeles National Forest. Just found that interesting tidbit while searching for why the river that surrounds half of the ranch has been dry the past couple of months. I couldn't find the answer, but I am happy that the river is running again. I love the sound and it is beautiful.

I took Mazzy on a little trail walk to get to the bottom ring. She enjoyed the scenery.
There is Buddhist Monastery across the river from the ranch. Usually there is nothing going on here, but once a year...then the gongs echo through the canyons and and incense fills the air. There are bus loads full of people bouncing down the dirt road where the horses do not think buses should be traveling. The horses aren't too happy on that day.

On the way to pick up Topaz from being spayed we stopped for lunch at The Boiling Crab, a Cajun/Creole restaurant. It was good! The wait is usually absolutely ridiculous (2-3 hrs), but we just happened to get there as they were opening at 3 and got in. Since we had never been there before it was just luck that we avoided the usual crowd, but by the time we left there was a line out the door.
We ordered 1 lb of shrimp and a pound of crawfish, an order of fried oysters and Chad had a cup of Gumbo. Crawfish is a lot of work for very little meat, but they are tasty. The shrimp was delicious. You have no eating utensils (you use your hands) and no plates. Your table cloth is a piece of white butcher paper, and your napkins are a roll of Paper towel. Luckily they give you a plastic bib, which is very much needed. I was covered in garlic and spices. The steamed items arrive in a plastic bag slathered in garlicky red Cajun sauce. We got the 'whole shebang' (cajun seasonings, butter, garlic, and lemon pepper), and you can order it as mild or spicy as you like. The service was attentive and they do swing by around often to check on things. It was a fun, though messy eating experience.

When we got home Topaz was pretty sleepy from her operation, but she was stitched up with disposable stitches and then "glued", so lucky for her she doesn't have to wear one of those cones around her neck.

After we got home, we sat outside and let the dogs entertain us while we tried to figure out how we are going to "remodel" our backyard...

Kora loves her deflated soccer ball!

Then finished off the evening over our friend's house for a glass of wine and some good company. I am packing as much in to everyday day as possible!

It was a beautiful night out. I took this out the car window on the way over.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reserve Champion!

I took Kylie to a show Saturday and she was super! I had to get up at 3:45am to pick her up and haul her over to the show. It was early, but nice and cool since the sun wasn't up yet. She warmed up great, nice and relaxed, jumping good and solid. She was responsive, but not overly sensitive. She can be a tricky ride sometimes, but today she decided to play nice. My first two classes were equitation over fences. First course was good, except there were some monsters that appeared at the far end of the ring and she got a bit distracted for a few moments. It didn't effect any of my fences thankfully, but I felt her tense up until I got her attention back. I really wish they could speak, because sometimes she sees things that really freak her out and I can't understand why. My trainer and I have come to the conclusion that Kylie hears voices in her head. Some days she acts like the perfectly trained horse that she is, easy to ride, and super fun. Other days, that marble in her head comes loose and she is a lunatic. She thinks everything is out the get her...chairs, poles on the ground, standards, anything and everything is scary to her. It is like a roll of the dice when we go to a show weather or not she is in the right state of mind. Luckily today she was. So the second equitation over fences class I was headed down a line that in the prior class we only jumped the fence going into the line, and she anticipated that we were going to turn out again, so we had a stride where she thought we were doing the same thing and I had to tell her to continue down the line. We made it down the line ok, but I'm sure it looked a bit distracting. We ended up second in both equitation classes, which I was very pleased with. Even thought I decided not to do the flat class of the division, I ended up Reserve Champion. Yippee! My third class was the USEF medal class, I jumped into the one stride a bit deep, but not horrible, and then there was a rollback to a drop rail to a bending seven strides and I thought the turn was a bit blind and going to catch Kylie off guard, so I over rode it a little bit. I got the correct amount of strides everywhere, but the last bending line I should have relaxed into her more. She goes way better if you sit back and leave your arm out in front of you. She feels more insecure if you are in a half seat and tends to shift around which makes it nearly impossible to keep her straight and find a good distance. In the last class it all came together. It felt rhythmical, and every single jump was perfectly out of stride. I fixed the bending line from the previous class because it was also in my last class. I couldn't have been happier with my course. I had a huge smile on my face as I landed off the last fence and gave Kylie a big pat on the neck. It was a perfect way to end the day. Did I mention it was almost 100 degrees? A very hot day to have to wear a hunt coat! My friend videos taped my first two rounds which I will try and post when I get them.

Kylie's barn-mates, Robbie and Luca, waiting for their classes.

Cool golf cart

Friday, July 17, 2009

Scraped up Mazzy

And just when I didn't have anything else to use my new herbal healing salve on.....
Mazzy somehow did a number on her face. Both sides have lovely scrapes. I have no idea how she managed it. Luckily not too much damage, no stitches needed, but there was some swelling so she must have bonked her noggin pretty good. She was a good patient when I scrubbed them out with Betadine and applied the healing salve. We'll see how good it works now! Gave her some Banamine to take down the swelling and releive the pain. I thought she was acting wierd when I went into her stall today she was shaking her head and just didn't seem right. She was definetly trying to tell me there was a probelm, but I didn't know what the problem was until I took off her fly mask.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Herbal Healing Salve

Mazzy had a few scrapes on her from who knows what so I decided to make my own salve. I started this a couple months ago by solar infusing Calendula flowers in olive oil. I filled a large glass jar with the flowers and then covered them with oil leaving them in a sunny window. I used olive oil because it holds it's integrity longer than commonly used seed oils and is wonderful for the skin. This method allows oil soluble vitamins and minerals to be released into the oil and offer their healing qualities.
Calendula oil is said to be the "healing skin oil". It is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, helps healing wounds, useful for bed sores, broken veins, bruises, inflamed gums, varicose veins. Effective on rashes, dry, chapped or cracked skin.

After a couple of months, the oil was infused with all of the medicinal qualities of the plant and I removed the oil from its sunny resting place. I then strained it through cheesecloth. Over very low heat I melted together pure beeswax (A natural emulsifier that helps seal and protect skin. It is also an anti-oxidant and has some free radical abilities (i.e. - fights harmful pollutants). Soothing, softening and helps the skin retain moisture.)
Shea Butter (Absorbs easily into the skin, providing wonderful healing and moisturizing properties. Leaves skin smooth, supple and soft. Natural in Vitamin A, Shea butter provides natural sun protection, heals scars, prevents/reduces stretch marks and is used to treat burns, eczema, acute dry skin, and rashes)
Lanolin ( Acts as a fantastic barrier to protect the skin from harsh environmental conditions)
Calendula infused oil.
After all of these ingredients were melted and fully mixed and removed from the heat and let cool for a bit. I then added:
Vitamin E oil ( has the ability to preserve fats and aid in the healing of wounds)
Lavender Essential
l Oil (Useful in treating burns, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Is rejuvenating to the skin and tissue.)
Tea Tree Oil ( Effective fungicide, antibacterial and antiseptic. Used for cuts, boils, cold sores, burns, stings, ticks, etc.)
Grapefruit Seed Extract (It has a superior cleaning and healing effects. It can also be applied to countless types of external skin infections and conditions caused from fleas, mites, parasites, fungus, bacteria and viruses)
I poured the mixture into cobalt blue jars and then made labels.

It smells delightful! I have been using it daily on Mazzy's scrapes, insect bits, dry skin, rubs, and anywhere else the skin looks irritated. She lays down quite a bit so her hocks are always a bit rough looking, this salve is really helping! All of her blemishes are clearing up so well that I am running out of places to use it.

I had fun choosing the ingredients, and feel good about using something that is all natural.

All natural ingredients: Calendula infused oil, Pure Beeswax, Unrefined Shea Butter, Lanolin, Lavender Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil, Vitamin E, Grapefruit Seed Extract.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalucía. Gazpacho most nearly resembles a sort of chunky liquid salad, with lots of fresh, uncooked vegetables suspended in a broth of puréed tomatoes or tomato juice. There are many variations, but this one is REALLY good, and is my favorite. In the summer when all of the vegetables are at their finest, this simple, modern soup is full of refreshing good flavor.

This is one of my favorite things to eat in the summer, and my husband says he can eat it everyday, so I made a big batch today.
The Recipe....
3 large tomatoes
1 cucumber (peeled)
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup green onion
4 cups tomato juice
2 avocados
5 TBLS red wine vinegar
4 TBLS olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
cilantro lemon juice

Chop everything up and put in a big bowl. Chill. Measurements aren't that important, I always improvise and add a little more of what I like, etc.
I got this recipe from my mother-in-law and as you can see from the picture, I've used it alot. It was originally written on pink bunny paper.

Garden grown tomatoes are the best, but any fresh tomatoes are fine. I used 4 or 5 medium sized tomatoes in this batch.

I love Persian cucumbers. They are very crisp and do not have seeds. They are much smaller than traditional cukes, so I use at least two. I used 3 for this batch.

Celery. I just estimated1 cup.

Again, for the green onions I just estimated the amount.
For the tomato juice, I used R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie - Spicy. In the past I have used V8, V8 Spicy, and just plain tomato juice. I prefer the spicy or else the soup tends to come out a bit bland. The soup doesn't taste spicy to me because all of the other ingredients mellow the juice out, but it gives it more flavor. No measuring needed since the bottle is 4 cups, how convenient!

I love avocados!

Adding the vinegar and oil.

Salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

And lastly cilantro. Of course this is optional, but I love it, so I add alot.

Mix it all up.

And chill, so all the flavors can mingle. Yum!

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