Eats and Treats | Surprise Inside Truffles

15 Feb

Gosh, it’s a good thing that I need food to survive, because I certainly eat a lot of it. A little over a month ago I visited my mom in San Antonio. She made these tasty little treats for me. I have to say, they are wonderful. I think she got the recipe off Pinterest, but then she thought of adding the best part, the cherry!

It’s been a while since I made these. I took them to a Super Bowl party, if that tells you anything. Anyway, they are delicious, regardless of when you make them. I hope you enjoy!

Eats and Treats | Surprise Inside Truffles

8 oz. cream cheese

1 Pound Oreos

1 Jar maraschino cherries

1 Pound white chocolate

Step 1: Blend your Oreos until they are a powder. I did this in the blender. You don’t want huge chunks, but little ones should mix in okay.

Step 2: Take your Oreos and mix them complexly with the cream cheese. I would make sure that the cream cheese is room temperature and maybe even cut it into smaller pieces.

Step 3: After the Oreo powder and the cream cheese are combined, drain your cherries. It is really important that they are very, very dry. After they are drained spread them out onto some paper towels and then blot off any excess moisture by taking more paper towels and applying a little pressure to each cherry individually.

Step 4: Once your cherries are dry, pick out your favorite one. That’s the one you’re going to use to make the first truffle. Measure out 2 tbsps. of Oreo powder/cream cheese mixture. Using your hands, pack the mixture around the cherry, so that the cherry is in the middle. Place the ball on a tray or cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Step 5: Repeat until you run out of cherries or Oreo powder/cream cheese mixture. Then, let the truffles chill for about 45 minutes in the refrigerator.

Step 6: While the truffles are chilling, use your favorite method to rig up a double boiler. Mine is to use the crock-pot to heat the water and put a small bowl in the crockpot water to melt whatever needs melting. When your rig is all set, melt the white chocolate in it.

Step 7: After the chocolate is melted and the truffle is chilled, bring them back out of the fridge. Using a fork, (or in my case, two) dip each truffle in the white chocolate and set it back on the tray lined with wax paper. If you want to decorate your truffle, now would be a fantastic time.

Step 8: Once the chocolate is set (you could chill the truffles again to speed up the process) put the truffles in an airtight container and keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to have them consumed!

My friend Amy came over while I was making these, so I have some pictures. Here they are, in no particular order!

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Writing Exercise | Narrative Sketch

31 Jan

Please note, this is a twin post from my other blog, Tarable Tales.

Today’s writing exercise comes from The Art and Craft of Fiction, by Michael Kardos. Please feel free to respond with your thoughts, or your own version of the exercise.

images 

Write a list of 25 things about yourself: physical attributes, hobbies and interests, specific fears, family history, or anything else. Stay away from abstract words. When you are done, circle five facts that, if you were a character in a story, would be most useful in giving the reader a clear sense of that character.

 

1.)  Her clothes were a helter skelter of different styles and sizes. They were the scattered leftovers of slowly coming out of adolescence and into womanhood. Most of them were the ill-fated result of gaining and losing weight. If a stranger were to look inside her closet they may think that it housed the wardrobe of five people, certainly not one.

2.)  She did have a fondness of shoes. Not wearing them, necessarily, but certainly buying them. She had three main pairs. One was sparkly and beige. One was sparkly and brown. One was shiny, red, and flat. She rotated them depending on her outfit, and often found herself wishing for a simple pair of black flats.

3.)  On her dresser is an oversized, thin plastic plate with a burnt orange flower pattern. That’s where she puts her clunky silver jewelry every night after she takes it off, right before her second shower of the day. Much like her shoes, she rotates out a few simple pieces and keeps the majority of her ‘good’ jewelry in a gallon-sized zip lock baggy in her empty armoire.

4.)  She paints her nails, at least once a week, although the polish never stays long. Depending on her mood they can be bright and eye-catching, or neutral and subdued. She remembers the way her mother used to do her nails every night to match her outfit for the next day, always so slow and precise. She thinks of her when she does them, although she is not patient like her mother. Most of the time she musses them before they are dry and wipes away all the evidence with an acetone dipped cotton ball. She cannot stand when they chip. She will secretly chew off the imperfect polish before she is seen with chipped nails.

5.)  She looks good in fall colors, and loves red lipstick-but she can never bring herself to wear anything bright on her mouth. It seems to go against her nature. She does not want that attention for herself.

6.)  Her skin is oily and it makes her crazy. Primer, blot clothes, obsessive washing and powder; nothing seems to help. So, she resorts to looking ‘dewy.’ All the magazines say that is what is in, anyway.

7.)  She has two dogs. Pugs. She got the first when she was lonely. She got the second because she thought the first was lonely. Now there are two. (The second loves the first, but the first was happier when she was the only.) She figures that hindsight is 20/20 and tries to love them both equally, even if she secretly loves the first just a little bit more.

8.)  She is one of those creepy people who think of her pets as children, but is grateful that she can lock them up when she’s sick of them. You can’t do that with kids…or at least she knows she shouldn’t. She does not want children any time soon.

9.)  Owls appeal to her in strange ways. She’s taken to buying owl things and putting them around her home. She doesn’t know why she likes them, exactly. She knows that when she sees them she gets a little excited. Maybe it’s the big, round eyes. They look like guardians to her, always watching and keeping a constant vigil. She thinks maybe deep down she craves a sense of security.

10.) In her bookcase, in a very old cigar box, she has her late father’s coin box. In it there are all sorts of different and strange coins. Some are valuable, most are probably not. Sometimes she will get them out and look at them. They smell funny, not quite like coins at all. Afterward she always washes her hands thoroughly. The coins always leave a thin residue on her fingers.

11.) She also has a very large ring. It is silver with a big curling dragon. In the middle is a sapphire. It wouldn’t fit most men. Not even if they put two fingers in it. She keeps in next to a picture on her mantel. It, too, was her father’s. He used to wear it on his pinky.

12.) She tries to fill her home with things that make her happy, even if they don’t match. This has resulted in an eclectic yet stylized look. Her couch is made of brown corduroy and canvas with big orange and brown pillows. On the floor is an oversized geometric rug with dark reds and browns and greens. On the wall are three photographs of black and white trees that take up one whole wall. There are bookshelves everywhere; they are full of things, but not all of those things are books.

13.) She’s taken to drinking tea. She used to drink coffee, if you can call the hot diluted, milky, sugar-water she sucked down as “coffee.” She still gets a nonfat latte now and again but finds she prefers Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset with a tablespoon of Splenda to start her engines in the morning.

14.) There is the faintest of dimples underneath her left eye. If you didn’t know it was there, you would miss it. It’s a leftover scar from her childhood. Her father had been outside using the weedwacker and hit a rock. It sped across the yard, through the screen door, and into the living room, where it just narrowly missed blinding her. She thinks of it as a daily reminder that even the people you love the most will accidentally hurt you sometimes and even sitting inside where it’s safe doesn’t guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen.

15.) She travels a lot. Sometimes for work, sometimes for pleasure. She loves New Orleans and frequently chooses it as a destination for long weekends. She has never been to New York, but every year she says that this will be the year she goes. Somehow that never happens. Maybe this year.

16.) She is not from Texas. She is from a small town in Iowa. She misses the place where she grew up, but that place doesn’t exist any more. Even though she sometimes gets homesick, she would rather be where she is and a little uncomfortable then back where she was. There was no opportunity for her there; there was no adventure for her there. This is better, even if it is Texas.

17.) She is obsessed with using J and ❤ when she texts and emails. It makes her a little nuts, but she wants to be sure the recipient understands she is kidding/happy/loving whatever she is sending their way.

18.) Hard headed would be a good term to describe her, both literally and as a statement of her personality. When she was a child she smacked her head on pickle crock; it broke, she did not. In fact she went on her merry way with little to no regard for her concerned mother’s ministrations about the welfare of her skull.

19.) She is not afraid of the dark. She is afraid of the deepest part of her imagination that assures her that of all the unknown things that bump around in the dark, there must be one there with her, lurking in the shadows until she is most vulnerable. Mostly these monsters turn out to be piles of dirty laundry or oddly shaped furniture shadows. She knows that the things she imagines are not real, but she also acknowledges that the fear she feels is very real to her.

20.) The bottoms of her feet used to be ticklish until one day she figured out how to poof, turn that part of her brain off. She wonders why she can’t apply this technique to other parts of her body.

21.) Once every six months or so she gets the most terrible cold sores. They are great painful pulsing bumps that usually take up residence on her lower lip. Since her mouth is smallish to begin with, they are obvious to others. She has built up a tolerance to Abreva. She would go to the doctor to get medication, but she’s heard that if you get medicine for cold sores then your insurance will think you have a sexually transmitted disease. She doesn’t want that “pre-existing condition” to jump up and bite her in the butt later on in life.

22.) Hypothetical questions are a sort of pass time for her. She likes to ask, “What if?” Not just to herself, either. She hounds her boyfriend and her mother with silly scenarios and ridiculous options. One of her favorite ‘starters’ is, “What if I died, would you…?” then give them a multiple choice selection of a.) “remarry a woman that we both currently know, but you’ve never admitted you have feeling for?” or b.) “live alone and desperate as a shell of a person in a perpetual state of depression?” There are no other options. Mostly everyone finds this annoying, but no one has found a good way to shut her up yet. J

23.) She has a tendency to go above and beyond what is required of her without boasting or asking favors. However, when the time comes for recognition or reward, she has a tendency to become resentful if she is overlooked.

24.) She craves the permanence of a real house instead of the townhome she has now. She wants a nice home to inflict Pinterest projects on, with a fenced yard where her dogs can play, and extra bedrooms so her mother can come and live. She is awfully attached to her mother.

25.) Sometimes she goes for long walks around a park in a bad part of town. Twice now she’s been propositioned as a prostitute, even though she dresses modestly. She will listen to music as loud as the volume will allow and lose herself in a steady pace, a catchy beat, and a cloud of thoughts.

Thanks for reading. I hoped you enjoyed it! Drop me a line telling me what you think. Or, you could complete the exercise too and give me the link so I can see how yours came out. J

Pinned it! | Gardener’s Hand Scrub

30 Jan

 I love Pinterest.

It’s a great place to find ideas for crafts. That’s where I got the project I made today. I’m really excited about it, it was super easy to do.

This stuff is great. It rips through the grossest stuff you can get on your hands, like butter or mud. It also leaves your skin REALLY super soft. Someone on another blog compared it to a product you can buy from Mary Kay that’s rather expensive. I don’t know anything about that, but it’s kind of neat to think about how we can create this inexpensive alternative.

The original post from Pinterest took me here.

First you need three ingredients.

1.)  Olay Hand Renewal Dish Soap

2.)  White Sugar

3.)  A container

Gardener's Hand Soap 1

Next, you fill your container about ¾ full of sugar. It’s important that it’s white sugar because brown sugar will turn the scrub from a pretty pink to a brownish pinkish mess.

Gardener's Handsoap 2

Once you have the sugar in, just squeeze the dish soap in on top, stirring a little as you go. I think the best dish soap you can use is the kind with Olay Hand Renewal. It really does make a difference in how your hands feel after you wash them with the scrub.

I didn’t stir as I squeezed, so mine looks liquidy in the pictures below. Have no fear! After I mixed everything around it was the correct consistency.

Gardener's Handsoap 3

Isn’t that easy? I love the cute little jars I found to make these in. They’re the perfect size for giving. I’m thinking that with a little ribbon and a festive notecard I can hand these out as early Valentines. ❤

Gardeners Handsoap #4

Sweet and Silky Coffee Creamer

14 Jan

Yes, I made coffee creamer and put it in tea. :)

Yes, I made coffee creamer and put it in tea. 🙂

Sweet and Silky Coffee Creamer

 

I know, I know. This is the third post about food in a blog of about five or six posts, which is surprisingly not a food blog. Truthfully, I do more than eat all the time. Granted, it may not be much more…but still. I guess when I get busy with “life,” one thing I can still count on myself to do is create new/delicious culinary experiences.

 

Alas, at least this post is in regard to beverages. That’s almost not a food. Right….right?

 

No?

 

Oh well. It’s already done.

 

This week I have 5 am training for a new initiative at work. That means that, not only do I have to get up bright and early at o’dark thirty to get ready, I also have to be functioning and cognitive while I complete my 10-hour shift. In a classroom. Where it’s warm. And conditions just happen to be perfect for napping.

When I finish at work, I drive an hour and a half and sit in a new classroom. On campus. From 5:30 until 9:45. Where it is also warm, and conditions are similarly suited for napping.

 

Oh, it is such a perilous combination.

 

But since I love my job and I want to keep it forever, it is really in my best interest to stay awake and absorb all that knowledge coming my way. And I should probably stay awake for school too.

 

My plan? Coffee. Not that it’s a highly original plan. But it’s what goes in the coffee that makes it special. The secret ingredient is delicious, homemade, sweet and silky coffee creamer.

 

This is the basic recipe that I used…

 

Homemade Coffee Creamer

 

1 small can sweet and condensed milk

1 ½ cups milk (use non fat if desired)

1tbsp Vanilla extract, or extract of your choice

 

Just put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. Then keep the contents refrigerated.

 

 

Isn’t that easy?

 

Now, because I am not capable of following such a simple recipe without giving it my own twist, I switched up the extracts a little. And I loved it. Instead of using just vanilla, I cut back a little and added a touch of almond extract and just a bit more than that of cardamom extract. (FYI, cardamom is ridiculously expensive. Unless you go to the Indian market up I-35 where I buy it. Then it’s suspiciously cheap. And still tasty. I don’t know why and honestly I’m happy not knowing.)

 

I sincerely hope this stuff gets me through the week. I am ready to learn in a no-doze-zone!

 

Does anybody else out there have a good recipe for homemade coffee creamer that they’d like to share? Or stay-awake-secrets? Or really cool places like the Indian market where they get expensive goods for pennies on the dollar? Let me know, I’d love to try them!

 

Ellsworth Tater Tot Casserole

13 Jan

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From the kitchen of Karen Ellsworth

Tonight, we made this for dinner. And it was fantastic, as usual.

To think, I dated Nathan Ellsworth for nearly three years before I finally tried this tasty dish. So many wasted dinner opportunities.

I grew up a little food spoiled, I think. Frozen foods definitely weren’t my thing and my parents never expected me to eat anything I didn’t like as long as I tried it first. So when Nathan would periodically suggested tater tot casserole for dinner, I would sort of brush him off the same way I do when my mom wants to cook frozen pizza again (I hate Red Baron! I will never convert. Ughhhhhhh.)

Anyway, a little over a year ago, when Nathan’s parents were down visiting us from Iowa, Nathan’s mom, Karen, offered to make us something we would enjoy for dinner. Needless to say, tater tot casserole was nominated and I am so glad that it was!

I think it’s the special way that Karen bakes the tater tots before they actually go on the casserole that makes it so delicious. Or maybe it’s the copious amount of cheese. Either way, I knew a good thing when I tasted it.

Below is the recipe as Nathan and I make it now. Tater tot casserole is a beautiful, evolving thing, and  this may be slightly different from the one that Karen originally wrote down for me. Regardless, it is homage to the classic, and definitely  hits the spot.

Now, when Nathan suggests tater tot casserole night, I am as excited as he is! We even scarf down the re-heated leftovers. 🙂

Ellsworth Tater Tot Casserole

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 small onion (chopped)

1 (10 ½ ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon pepper

garlic powder to taste

18 ounces tater tots (1/2 of a bag)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pre-cook tater tots for 5-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and onion. Cook until the ground beef has browned.
  4. Drain any excess liquid and set aside.
  5. Lightly grease a casserole dish. Add soup, milk, pepper and garlic powder. Add the ground beef mixture and mix well.
  6. Top with tater tots.
  7. 
Cover and place into the oven.
  8. Bake covered for 40 minutes.
  9. After 40 minutes uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes (or until bubbly and the cheese browned.)

Mmmm, mmmm, MMMMMM!

Does anyone else have any family favorite recipes that they would like to share? I love collecting old family and community cookbooks and trying the things inside them. Don’t be shy folks, share the vittles!

Writer’s Response | Date a Girl Who Writes

12 Jan

Hey all! This is a twin post from my other blog, tarabletales.wordpress.com . I thought I’d share it with you here, too! Happy reading. 🙂


Date a Girl Who Writes

Have you ever read, “Date a Girl Who Reads” by Rosemarie Urquico? If not, go here. In my humble opinion it is one of the best short pieces you can find out there. I love everything about it. This piece is a response to that, but instead of looking at dating through the lens of girls who read, I did mine on girls who write. I really wanted to imitate the voice and style of the original because it seems to be part of what makes the original so beautiful. Here it is, enjoy!

Date a girl who writes. She won’t be easy to spot. She will spend most of her time in the company of invisible friends. In far away places. Where it is quiet. Her world is nearly impenetrable to anyone who is not already in it. To make her see you, be a hero or be a villain, but especially be unique. Girls who write are always interested in unique characters.

Date her because she will drown your enemies in ink, and exalt your charm on paper. Because she can build a kingdom for both of you, where your widest dreams will come true. Date her because wherever she is nothing is impossible. Date her so you can share some part of her madness, and of her genius.

Do not bring her flowers. Do not bring her chocolates. Do not write bad poetry. Instead, buy her tea, and sit with her while she drinks it. Talk about her stories with her, even if she is reluctant at first. Never laugh, unless you ought to. Ask questions. Drink more tea. Do not interrupt her during a frenzy, even when she writes so quickly her words flow illegibly across the page.

Buy her nice pens and cheap notebooks.

Tell her your favorite stories, ask about hers. Read with her. A lot. When she gets mad, know that it is not at you. When she cries, let her. When she loses her notebook, tear the place a part to find it. (That is her real home.)

When she is rejected the first time, tell her it doesn’t matter. When she is rejected the tenth time, assure her these things take time. When she is rejected the hundredth time, buy her new pens and take her on a date to the bookstore, offer to buy her anything she wants. Take her to the drive-in, get there early and people watch. Take her to a museum; let her read all of the plaques.

Do not let her give up. Not because she has been rejected. Not because she has writer’s block. Not because she fantasizes about being ‘normal.’

Buy her a house with a fireplace and too many bookshelves. Let her fill them with her things, even if they aren’t books. Find her a used desk that faces a window. Make sure there is no Internet connection.

Do not get jealous when she falls in love with her characters, she will come back to you, always.

When she walks around the house looking aimlessly at wallpaper and out windows, don’t fret about it too much. Remember she isn’t seeing what you are. Let her wander. Politely remind her to sleep and eat.

Smile when you notice the ink stained fingers that intertwine with yours. Remember they cannot be treated as mere digits on a hand. Hold them in the most loving manner. Hold them tightly.

Don’t just date a girl who writes. Marry her. Give her children. Make a life with her. Give her your life and watch as she gives life to everything around her.

Never let her go.

Did you like it? I imagine that a lot of people have responded to this work before. If you know of any other good pieces, please let me know. I’d love to read them. 

New Year’s Reservations

11 Jan

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I know, I know. It’s New Year’s resolutions.

I turned it into a play on words. Clever, don’t you think?

Late every December, right before January, the buzzing starts. Buzz buzz buzz. All the busy people looking foreword to slipping into their swimsuit bodies, getting out of debt, working on their portfolios, traveling abroad, etc. Of course, I am referencing the New Year’s resolution.

Well, this year, I am one of those people.

In the past I’ve been weary of the New Years resolution. To me, it’s like this bandwagon full of people dedicated to MORE stuff; more money, more admiration, more junk. They want “it” so badly they write it down and decide that finally this year they will be happy. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully.

If only.

I think it’s safe to say that most people do not follow through with their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, when I imagine myself making resolutions I am assuredly one of the ones who do not follow through. My life is cluttered enough without adding a list of borderline herculean tasks to the mix. The realist in me sort of chokes a little on the idea of trying to get six pack abs, achieving financial freedom, and sailing the seven seas. All in all, you could say that New Year’s resolutions strike me as a little cliché.

What happened to change my mind, you ask? Excellent question.

It goes back to all the clutter in my life. Here at The Colony (as I’ve deemed our little abode) we have a ton going on. Nathan is going back to school this spring, as am I. We both have full time jobs. We make every effort to get away when time and money allow, and we try new things and have new experience to enrich our lives. Really, we are extremely blessed. However, having too much of a good thing is bad for you.

I am making resolutions for 2013, despite my reservations, because I believe that less is more. This year, instead of making resolutions to gain extra stuff into our already disarrayed days, I want to cut the things that aren’t working in order to have more room for the things we already enjoy. No need to reinvent the proverbial wheel. I just want to tweak the design and make it better than it was before. By eliminating the things that aren’t working we’ll have time for the things we already know we enjoy, or have already been working toward. I think this will make the resolutions themselves more achievable, realistic, and timely given a year window.

Our 2013 “Less is More” New Year’s Resolutions

Less debt

by

  1. Affordably increasing payments towards money that has been spent before it was earned
  2. Adjusting our life style to be cognitive of wants versus needs
  3. Reviewing our current expenses and make reductions for unnecessary expenditures
  4. Avoiding adding any additional extras that will detract from the budget without adding to our quality of life (subscriptions, impulse purchases)

equals

  • More money for other financial goals (buying a home, paying cash for our next vehicle)
  • More opportunity to pursue other hobbies (photography, home brewing, adding to collections)
  • More opportunity for random acts of kindness and generosity
  • More credit worthiness
  • More peace of mind

Less stress

by

  1. Practicing better time management by keeping dedicated student and home/work calendars or agendas
  2. Asking for help when needed
  3. Letting go of the “small stuff”
  4. Giving ourselves plenty of time to complete a task
  5. Being prepared (make lists, set time limits)
  6. Being flexible
  7. Celebrating small victories

equals

  • More quality of life
  • More positive mental health
  • More health immunity
  • More energy

Less Food Junk

by

  1. Eating less foods from a box or a bag
  2. Shopping mainly in the produce section
  3. Buying less food in large quantities
  4. Drinking lots of water (something we are already very good at)
  5. Eating on a “schedule”

equals

  • More health conscious diets
  • More energy
  • More opportunities to save on dining out
  • More opportunities to skip on empty calories
  • More vitamins, minerals, and fiber

Less Physical Junk

by

  1. Not buying unnecessary goods
  2. Taking care of our current possessions
  3. Reusing, repurposing, and recycling the things we already own
  4. Looking to remove unnecessary stuff from our home and work spaces -perhaps donate or give away
  5. Passing on unnecessary items even though they may be a “steal”

equals

  • More room for things we really enjoy
  • More money toward things that are truly important
  • More time spent doing fun things instead of picking up clutter
  • More opportunities to creatively up cycle goods by doing crafts or projects
  • More space to breathe

There it is. My glorious list. My bandwagon ticket.

This is the first year I am really going to try to stick to New Year’s resolutions. I think that this method of adding to our lives by subtracting extras instead of adding them will really help me make our lives better in a meaningful and do-able way. Expect updates on how things are going. I need somebody to keep me on track!

Is anybody else out there doing New Year Resolutions, belated or otherwise? I bet yours don’t look so different that mine; generally speaking New Year’s resolutions tend to be predictable. I’m really curious if anyone has any weird or funny resolutions. If so, please share!

For those of you with resolutions, I’m right behind you. Good luck to us both.

Little Momma and Strawberry

28 Sep

6:00 came especially early this morning. There is something dissatisfying about having to get up that early when I don’t have to go to work, but it was definitely worth it. J Nathan and I have been looking forward to today for a very long time. A few months ago I bought a Groupon for a 3 hour trail ride and dinner. It was a bit of a splurge, but I knew that it was something that we would both enjoy, and I was right!

Our reservation wasn’t until 9:00 am, but it was an hour and a half drive to Sleepy Sheep Ranch where the festivities were to occur. The traffic wasn’t bad, but it turned out that Google Maps has the address wrong and we ended up at a Boy Scout camp/cemetery instead of the ranch, which was only about 2 miles down the road. We gave the ranch a quick phone call and they had us on the right path in no time at all.

I can’t say I minded the extra little stretch in the car. The whole drive there we listened to my iPhone (which is good, because I have strong feelings about some of Nathan’s choices in music.) I had a good time singing off key and embarrassing Nathan with my ridiculous car dancing. At one point I tried to get him to dance with me by grabbing his hand and moving it around with mine, but he pulled it away and told me I was “trying to break off his wrist.” 0.o! Oh, the casualties of my fun. The good news is that we both seemed to enjoy Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album KISS, which I didn’t see coming (for either of us!)

When we finally got to the ranch it was pretty much exactly what you would expect. There were horses, goats, sheep, and other barn yard creatures. Even our trail leader, Scott, was dressed up like a cowboy with the funny-looking leather pants and cliché western mustache. He was such a nice man, very friendly and knowledgeable. Everyone on the staff was amiable and patient with us. The first thing they did was assign us each our horse. I was a little intimidated because they expect you to be able to put your foot in the stirrup and just pull yourself over the horse like Clint Eastwood. I don’t know what I expected. A step-stool  maybe? Either way I managed to get on with very little assistance, which made me pretty proud of myself. Nathan had a little more trouble, with his bad knees and all, but it was still easier for him to get on than off, and he made it look easy regardless. 

Nathan’s horse was name Strawberry, and from what I saw she was a mostly kind-natured animal. She responded well to him, even when his rope-reigns sort of fell apart towards the beginning of the ride. My horse was Little Mama, which was slightly confusing because the ranch people would be talking to the horse, calling her “Little Mama,” and for some reason I kept thinking that they were talking to me. It was embarrassing when they would tell the horse to do something and I did it too. They were pretty nice about it though, at first they even pretended not to notice.

Little Mama was a seasoned vet, I think. She liked to be in the back and follow, which was fine by me. I yielded to her, not only because she was a great deal larger and well versed in horse business, but also because she didn’t much listen to me much anyway. We had a good relationship, I think. She would meander along behind the others, and then when she got too far back she’d trot to catch up. Trotting, it turns out, is scary. I had a hard time with the part where you have to kick and/or smack the horse to get it to move because I was afraid I would hurt her. Eventually I got over that though, and I would give her a little love tap whenever we got too far behind the group.

Another girl in our group, Selene, had a naughty horse. It kept stopping and eating everything. She would pull on its reigns to get it to come up, but it was fairly intent on snacking. She was a small person to be pulling at such a big horse. It would stop and hold up the horse line, which was actually a mixed blessing because it gave Little Mama and me a chance to catch up.

Little Mama was not without her own horse behaviors. I’m not sure if she got up to the suspected antics intentionally, but I have a sneaking suspicion she knew what she was up to. For instance, when there was a large thorny bush or a low hanging branch, Little Mama made sure I physically knew about it. My theory is that she was trying to scrape me off so she could go back to whatever it is that horses do. It didn’t work; I was on her pretty good. She made me laugh because she may have been just a wee bit…lazy? That’s such a harsh word. Perhaps it would be better to describe her as a “work economist.” If there was a short cut, Little Mama took it. If there was a corner to cut, Little Mama cut it. If there had been a way to sneak off and leave me in the woods somewhere, Little Mama may have been tempted.

Ah, now I’m just being dramatic. She was a good girl. I talked nicely to her, to build a good relationship, but she didn’t take much to that. Can’t say I blame her. I wouldn’t want to pack through the woods all day, staring at another horse’s butt, while some city dolt dug their heels into my sides and tried to balance the reigns while taking pictures with their iPhone in the other hand (guilty.) She was a pretty horse though, even tempered. Nathan’s horse had a feisty streak. At the beginning of the ride Strawberry was behind me and the guide and to come back and switch us, because Strawberry, apparently, is a biter. Nathan’s horse was going to bite my horse’s tail! For the record, my horse did not bite anybody and kept its teeth and other personals to itself. (“Good horse, no bite.” = Blank stare from horse.)

Because of the horse biting Nathan rode in front of me for most of the trip. He was the butterfly whisperer. They landed on him in multiples, at one point there were three on him. He didn’t seem to notice that much, which is a good thing, because he isn’t too fond of creepy crawly things. Actually, aside from dropping his sunglasses onto the forest floor (which one of the helpers was kind enough to retrieve) Nathan had a pretty good nature experience. Much better than the time we went camping and convinced ourselves there were werewolves hunting us.

The scenery was beautiful. The horse trail is on a 250 acre lot, and it did not disappoint. There wee pretty flowers and trees- the good knobby kind too, my favorite. I tried to soak it all in, but my horse ended up occupying most of my attention. I guess I just think large mammals are really cool or something…plus there was that whole staying in the saddle bit.

During the middle of the ride we stopped to eat. Now, I am a picky “outside eater,” but I can honestly say that everything was fairly delicious. And the presentation was nice too. They had decorated the picnic tables and even had the plates covered so the bugs couldn’t get at it. Really the only problem we had was bumble bees trying to drink Nathan’s Coke. The best part about the meal may have been the company. Our lovely cook, whose name I can’t remember, was a great conversationalist. It turns out that he and Nathan both lived in Idaho at some point. They talked about how hot and over populated it is here, and how they miss the autumn but not the snow. You know, the typical male bonding conversation. He was a real sweetheart, and he cooked my medium-well steak perfectly!

The highlight of this little adventure was feeding the fish. (I mean, aside from my love affair with Little Mama.) After we had a delicious steak dinner with wine and roasted corn (yum!), we took what we didn’t eat down to this large pond and fed it to some fish. These fish were crazy! They would swim up to you until practically their whole body was out of the water, and eat from your hands. Scott, our trail guide, told us we could “pet” them if we wanted to. I was oddly tempted, but every time I got near the fish it would scare me and I would shout, “Shit!” and jump away really fast…which happened about five times. Not my most becoming lady-like behavior, but I believe that there are situations where you are allowed to swear, like when being attacked by large, seemingly land swimming, hungry animals.

After lunch we got back on our horses and rode to the ranch where we started from. It was a great time. Now, my legs are sore and I think my dogs are convinced I’m cheating on them, but I would love to do it again someday. Nathan would like to maybe own horses when we grow up (not as much as goats, he loves goats) which would be alright too.

We drove home after getting some Dairy Queen and running a couple other errands and took a nap. It was an exhausting day! Our nap was pretty short lived because we both felt guilty for not spending enough time with our babies. They looked especially lonely while I sat out back on the patio and worked on things, but we tried to make it up to them by giving them walkies and an extra special dog treat we picked up last weekend when we got them their shots…and I may have given them a bite of the frozen pizza we had for dinner. Shhh! don’t tell Nathan, he has them on a very strict diet/exercise regime.

On another note, I made brownies from scratch, no box mix included. They were exceptionally delicious. I will save that for the next post, make it easy on myself. J