Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bronc Rider

Caitlin got tossed around pretty good on Dreamy Penny yesterday. She got on to ride her for the second time since breaking her that first day, and things were going pretty okay until Dreamy Penny decided she didn't want to do what Caitlin was asking of her. So what does any young horse do when they don't want to do what they are told? They throw a tantrum of course...not unlike a small child or a teenager who isn't getting their way.

Caitlin stayed on her for about 15 seconds before being thrown. I understand the horse was quite pissed off and bucking hard core...just like they do in the rodeos. Caitlin got banged up pretty good but got right back on the horse and rode it for a few more minutes to show whose boss. Her neck was hurting and she couldn't turn her head or raise her shoulders so off to the emergency room they went to be sure there were no fractures and thankfully there weren't. She has bruising and will be sore for a few days. I'm just glad I wasn't there to see it! I don't know that I would have handled it well...

Last Night's Dinner

I ended up making a pasta dish last night. It had a creamy base using ricotta cheese, milk, Parmesan, wine, olive oil, and fresh herbs. To that I added chicken, bacon, sauteed mushrooms and onions, tomatoes, scallions, etc...and served it over fresh linguini.

I made this up on the fly, so there is no recipe. The family loved it...even Ben...and he is the pickiest eater I know.

Some ingredients

Herbs are pretty

Chop them up

Chop Green onions

Dice tomatoes

chop these up too...

And this...

Parmesan to be grated...this little food processor is a huge help!

Cook this until lightly browned...don't want it too crispy for this kind of dish...

Not too browned, but just right.

After the bacon is done add the chicken and brown well on both sides. Cook until inside is just done...
Chop it up too...

Saute the onions until browned

Saute the mushrooms. In this shot I added some red wine after the mushrooms browned up well. I also added some fresh chopped garlic(not shown).

How they look after all the wine cooks off

Ricotta cheese...the start of my base

Adding in other ingredients to base...

What the stuff looks like after all ingredients are added

Serve over fresh pasta...garnish with some of the fresh tomatoes, fresh scallions and leftover Parmesan

Monday, July 30, 2007

What's for Dinner?

I have some chicken, some bacon, some mushrooms, some onions, some leftover red wine, some fresh pasta, some fresh garlic, some fresh basil, some tomatoes, some ParmesanReggiano, some garlic bread...so all this points to Italian tonight. I don't know exactly what I'm going to come up with but have an idea...I'll take pics this time...

Bonds of Love Withstand the Test of Time

My first love came into town to visit me this past weekend. Some of you will know who I'm talking about, but most of you probably won't. His name is Andy and I've known him ever since I was 16 years old. We lost touch with each other back when I was 18 but one day after roughly 7 years of zero contact he called me. I was around the age of 25 then, just had my first kid, and was married to an awful man who I divorced years ago...thank goodness.

I don't remember exactly how Andy found me, but that's not really important. He drove to Fort Worth from Houston just to see me and it meant the world to me. Unfortunately we were only able to visit for a few short hours. The man I was married to at the time was very controlling and abusive so it was nearly impossible for me and Andy to visit much longer than that. What a sad time for the both of us since it was painfully obvious that we still had deep feelings for each other even after all that time. But due to circumstances we didn't talk again until years later when I finally made contact.

I found his mother and through her I was able to get his number and I called him. That was roughly two years ago which means it had been 14 years or so since we last spoke. The conversation was awkward...as if our bond was no longer intact because too much time had passed. I did manage to give him my email address before hanging up but I didn't expect I'd ever hear from him again which made me really sad. Then one day several weeks ago he emailed me out of the blue asking if that was my email and if I was still there. I was totally blown away and beyond thrilled to hear from him.

This time we didn't lose touch. We have been talking to each other on a fairly regular basis since he emailed, but didn't get to actually see each other until this past Friday. It was almost unbelievable to me to see him for the first time in 16 years! In many ways if felt like no time had passed at all and our bond is still very much intact. In other ways it was totally surreal. Regardless it was absolutely wonderful seeing him again after all that time.

Some interesting tidbits...

While I was still living in Fort Worth, Andy moved to Austin for a couple of years. When I moved to Austin, Andy moved to Fort Worth! Never in the same city at the same time! Andy also has old friends he has known since the sixth grade who live in Austin now. He introduced me to them back when I was 17 and I adored them right away and even have pictures of them somewhere.

Once Andy got to Austin this weekend he called up one of these friends...Robert. I haven't seen Robert in over 20 years and wow was it ever good to see him! He is married now and I totally enjoyed meeting his wife. Her name is Jackie and she is awesome! The four of us went out to eat at a place called Evangeline's in South Austin, then went back to Robert and Jackie's house where an old face from the past showed up along with some new faces. It was a party and I had a great time! I didn't want to leave their house, but Andy and I had more catching up to do and I had responsibilities so we had to hug their necks goodbye with promises of getting together another time. They are special people and I'm so glad I got to spend some time with them and hope we can all stay in touch.

What I took away from all this...

True love does last the test of time and distance. Love is never something to throw away or agonize over because circumstances might get in the way. It is something to be enjoyed and appreciated while we have it. True love can come in many forms and be shared with many people at once. Actually I've always known this, but to see it in practice validates my feelings on the subject. There are many people in my life that I truly do love. Some accept my love, others don't, but at least I know I'm being true to myself and THAT my friends is something I can always be proud of.

A Happy Reunion...

Robert is sitting far left in front...his beautiful wife Jackie is the gal with the white shirt. The pic quality isn't that great but I'm standing in between Andy and Leon...Leon is the tall guy you can barely see in the back. The other folks are new faces to me, but they are lovely people too who I hope to see again someday.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What's for Dinner

Last night I made Panang which is a Thai curry dish. It was delish! I didn't take pictures of the cooking process like I normally do, so sorry about that. But I did take a picture of the leftovers I ate for breakfast this morning!

Here is how I made it, which by the way is my own recipe and makes enough to feed about six hungry adults with plenty leftover for the next day.

You need:
One bottle of Thai Cuisine Red Curry Paste(I get it from Central Market here in Austin)
Ground Cayenne pepper to taste(this is optional...I like a lot of heat and add about 1/2 tsp or more)
two Knorr chicken bullion cubes
Kaffir Lime leaves(two medium to large sized ones)
Fresh Basil(I used five or six large leaves)
two cans of coconut milk
about a pound of skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 large yellow bell pepper and 1 large red bell pepper(gives the dish color when using two different colored bells, plus the yellow and red ones are sweeter than the green ones
3/4ths cup water...roughly.
2 cups Basmati rice (one part rice to two parts water. bring to a boil, stir, cut back heat to a simmer, and cover for exactly 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit until ready to use)

Now on to the fun part...this is a very easy dish to make!

In a large pot drop the chicken bullion cubes into about 3/4ths cup water. Dissolve over medium heat. To this add the two cans of coconut milk, the curry paste, and the cayenne pepper(optional), whisk together. Cover pot with lid and turn the heat down to low.

While the base is simmering do all the chopping. First julienne the kaffir lime leaves...make the strips very thin and add to the base that is cooking in the pot. Next julienne the peppers into 2 inch long strips. The peppers need to be wider than the kaffir lime strips, but remember you are julienning them so they should be strips no wider than about a 4th of an inch. After chopping, set aside in a bowl. Do the same thing now to the basil that you did to the kaffir lime leaves and set aside. It might be a good idea to stir the base every few minutes while all the chopping is being done.

Start the rice then begin slicing the chicken breasts into 2 1/2 inch strips...make the slices thin...about an 8th of an inch. Add the sliced chicken to the base and stir. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the chicken turns white all the way through. Don't over cook the chicken or it will be tough. Before the chicken is done add the peppers. It takes about 8 minutes for the chicken to cook. The peppers should be tender crisp in this dish but not raw. Keep stirring the dish as it's cooking.

Add sea salt to taste if desired and the fresh basil. Stir again, turn down heat and let it all cook about 5 more minutes or until the rice is done. Once the rice is cooked, get out some bowls and put about 3/4ths cup of cooked rice in each bowl and ladle the Panang on top to the desired rice to Panang ratio. Serve and enjoy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Lost More Weight

I've lost ten pounds this month and am down to an all new low. I can't believe I lost that much considering my activity levels have been pretty low lately. I need to lose about 40 more and then I'll be satisfied. I can't believe I'm getting so close to my end goal.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Black Snake Moan and Others...

Here are a list of movies I've seen recently that I liked:

Black Snake Moan (really great!I don't want to say anything about this one...just go get it and see for yourself!)
Sweet Land (a very tender love story that makes some interesting social commentary on immigration in the US right after World War One)
Snakes on a Plane (the kind of movie that is meant to be made fun of I think)
Music and Lyrics (chick flick all the way, yet pleasantly surprising)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Have Nothing to Say!

I can't believe I am drawing a blank on what to write about...today was so uneventful. Maybe I'll be more entertaining tomorrow...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Caitlin Broke Her First Horse!

I spoke with Caitlin today and she told me all about her first experience breaking a horse. I didn't expect she would jump in so quickly and was surprised to learn that she broke the horse on her own under the watchful tutelage of her Uncle. She said that she is exhausted from the experience and a little sore. I have to wonder how many 14 year old girls are out there breaking horses and I'm willing to bet not many...if any.

The horse she broke is a three year old that has never had any training, so of course I'm very impressed that she stuck with it and saw it through to the end. Apparently it takes several hours of round pin work(ground work)before the horse is ridden. I'm glad the horse didn't act crazy once she finally got on it's back...but I suspect that has everything to do with the way the animal is being trained. I asked her if she is proud of herself and her words were "I'm too tired to be proud".

She understands it's going to take a while to get hardened to the life of a horse trainer but she is a determined young lady and this is her dream being realized. Who knows though, she could very well decide it's not for her after breaking a few more horses...Time will tell...

In the meantime I sit on pins and needles every day wondering how she is doing and hoping for the best. Pictured below is the horse she trained today. Isn't it beautiful? Oh and I have to brag about my sister's amazing photography of these beautiful animals. It's a skill unto itself to be able to photograph them like this.

Dreamy Penny

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lots of Pictures

Here are some pics my sister sent me yesterday. They are of my family, Caitlin, the ranch, and surrounding country. Aren't my niece and nephew adorable? I have been hearing all kinds of really cute stories about them and what they like to do. It makes me sad that I can't be around them all the time.

The horse that Caitlin is riding in the pics is named Root beer. He is like the family dog almost lol. He's just an old man of a horse and lives out in their front yard. Look how happy Caitlin is! I wonder how she'll be after a hard days work today.

Caitlin and Root beer. Wow, she looks like Katie Holmes in this picture...only prettier!

Elizabeth is a lucky little girl to grow up around horses

Root beer would rather be grazing somewhere alone

Horsin around

She looks at home already

Tim and the kiddos...that's a lot of hay in the background!

Tim and my nephew Jack

My niece Elizabeth a.k.a. "Sparky"

Jack loves getting dirty

Lynn says he wears this hat all the time


Rocky...I'd love to hike here!


Ranch Headquarters

I like this because it shows how dense the forest is behind this building...it's not uncommon for mountain lions and bears to wander into the ranch from time to time

Wild Mustangs roam free...this is the leader

Panoramic view of wild heard

Majestic Mountain

Hummingbird and Indian Paintbrush

different view of red building and forest

More views of Mountains and foothills...if I ever get to come for a visit I'm bringing my tent!


Flowering Cactus

Friday, July 20, 2007

I Miss My Baby Already!

I said a tearful goodbye to my daughter Caitlin this morning because she is on her way to a ranch in Colorado that is in some wild country. I gave all the last minute motherly instructions..."don't get eaten or mauled by a bear, don't get attacked and drug off by a mountain lion, and don't get bit by a rattlesnake"! I'm willing to bet most moms don't say that to their children when they are getting on a plane.

My baby(she's 14) is off on the adventure of a lifetime to learn how to train horses, as well as learning sales and marketing of them and matching animals to potential buyers. She might even learn how to rope cattle. Her Uncle Tim is of the philosophy "Why chase cans(barrel racing), when you can chase down a cow running full speed whilst on a running horse and rope that cow while everything is in motion". Hmmm, and here I was worried about lions, snakes, and bears!

It's true that she wants to go into an occupation that is hazardous, but she has the heart and drive for it and a natural ability to do it well. Horses are her passion and always have been ever since I gave her a set of plastic horses for Christmas when she was about 7 years old. I had no idea at the time what I started or where it would lead to.

There aren't too many female horse trainers in the equine industry but it's not unheard of and I'm happy knowing that she will be learning from one of the best horse whisperers the world has to offer. Her Uncle Tim is the real deal and she couldn't get a better mentor anywhere for this way of life. It is a huge possibility that Caitlin will live in Colorado with her Aunt and Uncle through her high school years and not be returning home. This saddens me greatly to think about, but opportunity is knocking and people don't get amazing opportunities very often in life. I can't hold her back because I'm fearful of her getting hurt or because I'll miss her. I need to let her go on this journey and am excited about the possibilities for her future.

I'm sure she will have many stories to tell and I look forward to hearing them all. I went out and got her a cell phone yesterday so I can talk to her as much as I want. I can't wait to hear of her first impressions of the ranch, her cousins, and of all the fabulous horses she will be constantly around. In fact she is getting her very own horse to train from the ground up. The horse has no name yet, but it's a pretty two year old palomino filly that's never been ridden. I know Caitlin is going to do well with this animal...inside of my girl is a real horse whisperer waiting to emerge.

The filly Caitlin will be training. I can't wait to find out what Caitlin names her and I can't wait to get lots of pictures of Caitlin working with her! Sorry the pic is so small, but there will be others...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Arial View of My Greenbeans

The plants are growing like crazy and will be loaded with green beans this year...unless Ben keeps picking them and eating them off the vine lol. But that's ok...at least he is getting a very healthy snack in doing so.

What's for Dinner?

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Stir Fry!

Soy beans, broccoli, onions, carrots, yellow bell pepper, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, mushrooms, chicken, and celery. I used grape seed oil with a touch of sesame oil(flavor), soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, various Asian spices, and a bit of cornstarch for the base. It got good reviews from the family for the most part...they complained about the bell peppers in it lol.