Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stable Spotlight: Springfield Stables

Since my friend Jenn was just here for a visit I will showcase her beautiful barn, Springfield Stables in Mettawa, IL. Springfield Stables is a new state-of-the-art facility nestled on Chicago’s North Shore. This full-service equestrian facility specializing in hunters, jumpers and equitation, focusing on quality care for the equine athletes, as well as quality instruction and training for the competitive rider at all levels. They aim to provide a positive experience that produces polished, successful horse-and-rider teams. They are just started a blog so go check it out, and become a follower:

• 11 grass paddocks and 8 all-weather paddocks
• Large outdoor arena and a new course of jumps
• Indoor and Outdoor Arenas feature special blend sand footing and are maintained daily
• Plus a great hunt field and access to trails• 3/4 mile track
• State-of-the-art Euro Walker
• Complete 24-hour Security System

• Two large wash stalls with hot and cold water• Large industrial fan above each stall
• 40 matted stalls with automatic waterers
• Radiant heat throughout the main barn
• Dutch doors on stalls facing the outside of the barn
• Two large grooming stalls

• Grain offered 2-3 times per day with unlimited hay.
• Large, heated indoor arena
• Two large and comfortable lounges which look into the indoor arena
• Wireless internet in all areas of the facility

Jenn, manager and head trainer, grew up riding and showing on the prestigious, East Coast, A-rated circuit. As a junior rider, she qualified for and earned ribbons at the USEF Medal Finals held at the Penn National Horse Show, the ASPCA Maclay Finals held at Madison Square Garden and the USET Finals held at the United States Equestrian Team. Jenn also rode horses to top honors in the junior hunter and junior jumper divisions at the Winter Equestrian Festival, Devon and Lake Placid. Early in her career, Jenn rode with notable equestrians Emil Spadone and Leo Conroy, and later went on to work with Cynthia Hankins, Ellen Rait and George Morris.

While running her own successful operation in New Jersey, she coached riders to major wins at events such as the USEF Pony Hunter Finals, The National Horse Show, the USEF Medal Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, Zone II Hunter Finals and Marshall & Sterling Finals. Jenn also rode many horses to wins in the Pre-Green, First- Year and Second- Year Green Hunter divisions. In addition to the hunters, she also rode many horses to top ribbons in various jumper divisions up and down the East Coast.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I had a fantastic visit with my best friend Jenn who flew out from Chicago, the best Christmas present I could ever imagine. We got to spend Christmas together and a couple of days afterwards.We went to Santa Anita for opening day. The crowd enthusiastically cheered Jerry and Ann Mosses' undefeated Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Zenyatta who was paraded in front of the grandstand and into the winner’s circle by jockey Mike Smith after the day's sixth race. It marked her last scheduled public appearance before heading for the breeding shed in Kentucky. It gave me chills.

A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view.

The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.

A friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself.

I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me, I'd like to be the help that you've been always glad to be; I'd like to mean as much to you each minute of the day, as you have meant old friend of mine, to me along the way.

Real friends are those who, when you feel you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel you've done a permanent job
Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there

A friend is a feeling of forever in the heart.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gingerbread and Ginger Cookies

Gingerbread was originally invented as a digestive aid to be eaten at the end of a meal to help prevent indigestion. The original gingerbread was simply a piece of raw, peeled ginger placed inside a small ball of bread. This evolved into a more palatable concoction made with breadcrumbs, honey, ginger and other spices. Today’s ginger bread is traditionally made with molasses instead of honey and flour instead of breadcrumbs which gives us our modern-day, classic, dark-colored variety of this sweet treat. I guess both me and my horses love molasses!

If you aren't much of a baker, Trader Joe's has Triple Ginger Snaps. Six cookies contain 140 calories, 5g fat, 0g fiber, 21g carb, 130mg sodium. Ingredients: Unbleached wheat flour, brown sugar, butter, crystallized ginger (ginger, sugar), molasses, eggs, fresh ginger, baking soda, ground ginger, Kosher salt. Crunchy, sweet, and a little spicy. I love the little bits of candied ginger. Yummy!

Chocolate Gingerbread Bars (From Everyday Food, December 2008)
Makes 16
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper. Dust paper and sides of pan with cocoa; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, ginger, pumpkin-pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.
2.In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg, and sour cream until smooth. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.
3.Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Using paper overhang, lift gingerbread from pan. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 16 squares. Before serving, dust bars with confectioners sugar, if desired. (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

Gingerbread Snacking Cake (From Martha Stewart Living, December/January 1997/1998)
Serves 12
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1.Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-inch cake pan; set aside. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
2.In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light. Beat in brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in molasses and grated ginger, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in eggs.
3.Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares; dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Gingerbread Men Cookies
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons Ginger, Ground
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, Ground
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, Ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1.Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.

Ultimate Ginger Cookies (From Ina Garten, online and in Barefoot Contessa at Home)

Makes 16 cookies
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg, at room temperature
1¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

4. Scoop the dough with two spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1¾-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the baking sheets.

5. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Featured EtsyBlogger for December 2009

This month's featured Etsyblogger is CalKat, the combined efforts of Kathy and Carrie. They have not just one etsy shop but 4 shops all featuring a different aspect of their creativity.

Don't forget to check out all their shops and their blog, and see what they have that might be calling to you...

The CalKat Blog - enter contests, be the first to hear about sales, and get a behind the scene look at things

The CalKat Etsy Shop - gorgeous OOAK jewelry at affordable prices

The Ametista Etsy Shop - bottles and boxes and oddities, oh my!

The Yoga Fairies Etsy Shop - full of delightful little fairies in popular yoga poses

The Clay Shoppe at Etsy - where you can find lots of fantastic & one of a kind molds for your polymer clay projects

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No riding for a while

Our arenas are under water with another storm on the horizon. We are getting unusually cold weather too. Hoping for warmer temperatures and sunny skies!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rain is coming...

A grazing horse is seen, refracted through drops of water hanging from an autumn leaf in Igis, eastern Switzerland, Friday, Oct. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Keystone, Arno Balzarini). Click on the photo to enlarge.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swimming and riding

We took the dogs for a swim yesterday and they had a blast. Scout fetched a few times with Murphy but since Murphy is the ultimate swimmer she soon realized she had no chance at retrieving the ball first and soon lost interest in the game. Unfortunately Scout isn't the best listener and completely ignored us when off the leash, so after two chances and wondering if we were going to have to chase her through the hills to catch her, she had to stay on the leash. We are beginning to wonder if she is deaf because when we call her there is NO response. She doesn't even turn her head! She just continues on sniffing and she wanders farther away. We definitely need to work on training her.Murphy waiting for me to throw the ball... It was a beautiful clear day.

We ran across a few trail riders on the way.
I was so happy to get to ride four days in a row in the daylight this weekend! Mazzy has been coming along great. I trotted four poles in a row with her today. Not the most exciting thing, but it was a new thing for her. She was balanced and fluid and completely unfazed. I'm so glad I still have Kylie to ride because a three year old surely is physically and mentally exhausting. This is an example of two seconds of my communication while riding her: keep trotting, yup keep trotting, no don't swing your haunches out - stay straight, over here, over here, good girl, keep trotting, give to the right, not just your neck, bend around my leg. There are so many things I take for granted on a trained horse! When I bought Kyie she was an unbroke three year old...she sure has come a long way!

I had a great lesson on Kylie today. She was quiet, relaxed and straight with a nice big open stride. Sure is easy and fun when she's like that! Here is one of the courses we did (not exactly to scale).
1a/1b One stride left hand turn to a bounce at the top of the ring (2a/2b). Left hand turn around fence 5 to a long approach to jump fence 3 at an angle. Back through the one stride to the six stride outside line (5 & 6). Up the diagonal in five strides finishing off on the single oxer (9). We also practiced flowing through roll backs because I allow Kylie to stall out in the turn sometimes loosing our momentum. Since her tendency is to drift left I have to make sure on a right rollback I steer out far enough so I can guide her back to the right. If I turn in too soon or cut the turn, I inevitably end up on the left side of the jump.

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