Love gracefully & make mistakes

Craft edition!!

This weekend, I learned how to make Lush jelly soap. And boy are they fun!

Poured into the molds

Poured into the molds

I accidentally set the cookie sheet I was using to put all my molds on next to the burner and it melted my unicorn mold, and I also scorched the counter top. Oops!!!

I’ll pay better attention next time…Eek!

In the meantime, here is the tutorial I used. It makes a LOT of soap, so be ready to make this to give away to friends/family/coworkers. It sets overnight, and you can scoop it into cute little mason jars. Store it in the fridge until you give it away, and tell your gift recipients to store it in the fridge or freezer until they are ready for their shower–it melts very easily but is such a fun little gift.

Jelly soaps!

Jelly soaps!

So make this the day before you want to give it as a gift. It’s so easy!

– have molds- the bigger the better- I used tupperwares mostly.

– use unscented or lightly scented shampoo or bath gel.

-add an essential oil if you want, I like peppermint so I put those in.

-add a few drops of food coloring, I like blue.

-be patient, it will set overnight and you can scoop it into jars in the morning.

-if you do freeze it, use it from frozen. Don’t defrost and use, it denatures the jelly.

-it’s a relatively cheap gift! All you need to buy are gelatin packs and have some cheap shampoo or bath gel, tupperware molds and little gifty packages to give it in.

Enjoy!

 

Do right by me

Fresh-picked

Fresh-picked

So what did I do this weekend?

I rode in a lesson on Thursday and I felt bummed out (from live, overall) but the lesson went well. I decided I wasn’t going to ride in the horse show this upcoming weekend.

And then I rode Sat and Oats was good, and rode Sunday and he tried to buck me off! He was feeling spunky, and after some jump schooling (tiny x-rails ha) and some dressage work, he decided to try to turf me off because the dressage work was too hard! What a jerkface eh.

Yummy!

Oats enjoys an apple

And after that, I decided I wanted to ride in the show again?! And yet I told people I didn’t. What is going on in my brain? I blame the sunny weather- it makes me want to get up and get OUT THERE! And true it was sunny allllll weekend hahah.

So, we’ll see where I am this week. Maybe I will be deciding about the show right up until the very. last.minute.

Hahaha!

I did some crafts this weekend that went quite well, minus melting my mold on the element and burning my counter top. Oops!

Also went for coffee with a friend, so it was nice to catch up over a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. Yes the floodgates have burst open and BOOM! Pumpkin Spice everything! I even drank Pumpkin Spice Whiskey (Spicebox) this weekend, hahah. And had a Lighthouse pumpkin beer (it was ok, not as spiced as I would have liked I guess?).

Stay tuned for a crafty post ūüôā

Have we reached peak Pumpkin spice flavour? Not yet!

I actually really enjoy this flavour- even though I haven’t yet had a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks or anything, it is a favourite and I will make an effort to get out and have at least one PSL latte this season.

That was why I was pretty thrilled to find that Purdy’s has two seasonal Pumpkin chocolates, a truffle and a caramel.

And, being the chocoholic that I am, I tried both. The verdict? YUM! I ate WAY too much chocolate yesterday, trying both of those, the caramel sea-salt chocolate, the pecan chocolate, a maple caramel (more on that later, can’t have too many chocolate reviews today).

The Pumpkin Truffle is delicately spiced, with subtle pumpkin notes mingling with nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of ginger. You have to like the texture and flavour of pumpkin, as it is very convincing here. A beautiful truffle that goes down easy and is quite smooth. Milk chocolate shell.

Pumpkin Truffle

Pumpkin Truffle

The Pumpkin Caramel is bolder. The spice level is not as subtle, and the pumpkin flavour is much more toned down in favour of a stronger spice ‘bite’. I liked it, but did enjoy the pumpkin truffle more. Try this one if you want more of a spicy finish with a chew. The chew was thoroughly enjoyable, and didn’t get stuck to my teeth.

Pumpkin Caramel

Pumpkin Caramel

So there you have it- two seasonal chocolates, two very different ‘mouth-feels’ and a bit of a different taste to both. You have to like Pumpkin Spice though!

It really turned my day around yesterday, and now I can’t wait to get home and eat a few more of these. Fabulous!

Cathartic

I’m not sure if it’s SAD or what (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but I sometimes feel like I was riding a real summer ‘high’ and now I’m falling into a fall ‘low’…

I’m riding through the tough stuff, but I find myself over sensitive to even the most basic things- small corrections at work? Stew and steam for awhile, longer than you should even be thinking about it… Had a shitty ride? Obsess over it. Plot, plan, scheme, whatever. I don’t think I should be necessarily feeling this way, but I am.

SAD-lights necessary? Quite possibly!

I had a good lesson yesterday actually. I was feeling a bit crabby (see above unreasonable responses to normal work situations) but I felt so hyper-focused in my lesson that it all kind of just…melted away… That’s not to say it was easy- it wasn’t- Oats tried to intimidate me out of asking what I was asking, but I didn’t let him, and we achieved some mini-breakthroughs. Phew!

I found this on the Chronicle of the Horse web forum, and it really resonated with me. I love jumping, riding, showing, etc. but it really takes it out of me. Sometimes it’s all I can do to show up! And this is something I LOVE!

A lot of amateurs spend a great deal of their riding time pushed to their limits. It is a great privilege and stroke of luck (which could be taken away by a bad fall) if you are able to canter around serenely well within your own comfort zone. Many more people spend a lot of time persevering and continuing to show up to the barn despite the fact that, a lot of time when they are on a horse, they are afraid. Sure, I get to come to the barn and not spend 90% of my lessons battling fear or anxiety, but this is not true for everyone. They are scared but they are DOING IT ANYWAY.

Half the time they would NEVER be doing what you are asking them to do of their own accord or without you there, but because they want to learn to ride worse than they are afraid they put essentially blind faith in you, rustle their brass ones together, and still try to do everything their brain is screaming at them to for the love of God not do. I feel the same way when one of my trainers put the jumps up two more and wider for the nth time, but because he is expert at pushing people to the limit but never over, the scope of my limits expand in his presence.

(Meanwhile, I feel the same way rarely, when the jumps have exceeded a certain size, and those moments serve to really reinforce my respect for people who feel that way most of the time, about stuff like ‘cantering’, and still want to ride worse than they are afraid. That takes BALLS and tremendous determination, and I am not sure I would continue with the sport if I had to always ride at my limit. So I really respect those who do. You cannot be brave if you are not afraid in the first place.)

It’s crazy. So why do we do it in the first place? Because when I’m feeling blah, having a blah day, feeling crabby and out of sorts…Going to the barn and having a super-focused ride that leaves me feeling cathartic is what I need the most. Even if I am on the edge of comfort (and over that edge) for most of it. I deal with fear a lot, and extreme performance anxiety- to the point where I let it take over for me and I’m drifting around on-course, or tuning out in a dressage ride.

I hope to be ‘more present’ jumping and riding. That’s all I can hope for sometimes!

Pick one: Make complaints or ask for favours. You don’t get both.

In today’s blog entry, I will do both: It’s a good ride/bad ride scenario.

How Oats feels about me

How Oats feels about me

Ask for favours: Good lesson on Saturday! I started off by feeling anxious again. I’m struggling with performance anxiety right now, a lot of it. Everything seems to trigger it- thinking about past horse shows, looking at my old jumping photos, old videos from horse shows, watching a jumping lesson go before mine…It makes me feel anxious about my jumping, soooo anxious.

And I hate it. I voiced my concerns to Nicole and I was saying that I’m really having a tough time right now- I know I’m riding better, not jumping ahead, but I get SO ANXIOUS thinking about jumping- even just ‘thinking’ about it! Yikes.

She is very understanding, and we went right to it- and worked on gridwork, which by the way I tend to hate! hahah.

Oats flopped through it, and I felt like it kind of sucked, but when we got his ‘on fire’ motion started, the grid started getting easier. I guess we get too ‘blah blah blah’ and humdrum about jumping, and he kind of just flops through a line. BUT when I get him revved up and his energy up, we GO GO GO! And he meets the gymnastic perfectly. (Note: We had very few times actually like this).

This is interesting to me, mainly because I hate riding gymnastics, and I never knew why. Well, the why is because we go into it without enough ‘oomph’ and sometimes I let him canter in, and we flub the whole shebang.

Also straightness- still an issue. We jumped with guide poles, haha.

And now we move on to Sunday’s ride, which is make complaints: It sucked sucked sucked. Sucked so hard I was like WTF we had a good lesson on Saturday? Could have fooled me!

We were just blah, I got too into Oats at the canter and he was blowing past my aids, being rude, and I was getting rude back…UGH.

Jumping, he had a wicked right drift that I somehow DID NOT NOTICE until I took out the entire jump with my right foot. ARHG.

Hopped off, put it back up, hopped back on, jumped it (shittily) and managed to get 1. pop up jump, 1 left-behind jump, and 1 knock-down the whole jump for my jumping of the day. Wonderful. I decided to stop, before I really screwed up any more.

Jesus.

So….The show I have coming up, in October? Yeah, not so sure it is a good idea right now. How do I keep getting worse?

Needs a drink

Needs a drink

In other news, I also went for a nice run with husband, helped the barn girls rake down the new footing for the indoor arena, made applesauce with apples from the barn, visited ‘The Drake’ for a drink in the evening (All Souls Chocolate/Pumpkin Porter from¬†Parallel¬†49) and made a rhubarb ‘fool’ this weekend.

A productive weekend if I do say so myself even if I was in a BAD Mood after my interesting ‘ride’ on Sunday. Hmm…Needing perspective is a daily, if not hourly, thing for me I guess!

Tempest

I rode on Wednesday in the field, because I felt Oats deserved a chill-out ride after our rather intense lesson on Tuesday.

He was good, we had a very brief ‘battle of wills’ when he wanted to turn left and I wanted to go straight and had to turn him right. Yes, funny how that battle seems to surface and all he wants to do is go LEFT and I want to go RIGHT! He threatened a bit, but I stayed ‘chilly’ and just kept asking, quietly, calmly, asking.

He gave up pretty quick and we went down the field. Trotted, cantered, hopped over the cavalettis- singly at a trot, then trot into the line and canter out, then trot one and skip the other- just to mix it up a bit.

The weirdest part was my incredible anxiety.

Oats was being fine- I had no real probs, he was happy to keep going along, and my heart was in my throat, weirdly. I was so anxious, when I jumped him over the little cavalettis acid practically splashed up my throat- like heartburn!?

(Ok so maybe that part was eating too many sriracha-flavoured chips before heading out to the barn)

But still, what the heck? Am I in a slump? All I can see in my mind is an accident- screwing up, bad things happening, a black cloud hanging over my head all day.

I didn’t have my lesson last night- the indoor is being resurfaced and it got too dark to jump outside- so I didn’t go riding. I rescheduled for Saturday, and I will probably head out for a hack tonight.

But I just keep feeling jealous of the teens/kids at the barn who are seemingly effortless at jumping bigger jumps than me (I want that! For me!) and having great success at shows that I have pretty much made a career out of falling off at. WTF?

So, I am jealous. And anxious. And this is not a good combination. Are we capable of more? Am I holding myself back? (short answer: yes I am).

But how do I move past this? I love jumping and I want to do more, go higher, etc. But the other lizard-part of my brain tightens up even THINKING about it.

How do I move from thinking….to doing? And I have literally been struggling with this for yeaars. YEARS! Some days and some lessons, and some shows, are better. I have been in a slump for awhile though.

And here is a song that wraps up what I am feeling: Tempest by Lucius.

Drive well, sleep carefully: Oats updates

So this weekend wasn’t a lot of Oats-riding, as you may have guessed. I had a good jumping lesson on Thursday, and then took Fri-Sat off and rode on Sunday.

fancy dressage Oats

fancy dressage Oats

Sunday Oats was good, we rode in the outdoor, but I wasn’t. I was having trouble breathing, and it felt like my whole chest was constricted. I was gasping and having the hardest time catching my breath, it felt like a mild case of ‘getting the wind knocked out of you’ but it was like, the whole ride? Scary! My hands were shaking and I just kept trying to breathe.

So, despite his rider having an apparent asthma attack, Oats behaved himself and we trotted a few fences, and cantered and then I had to stop and slide off, because I was fairly sure I was going to faint and fall off.

Indian Summer

Indian Summer

Monday, I went to ride and poor Oats’ eyes were swollen shut. The return of the flyborne eye-infection! ARGH. I cleaned the goop out of his eyes, put polysporin eye cream in them, and put his fly mask back on. No riding for me on Monday.

Ouch poor Oats.

Ouch poor Oats.

Tuesday we had our lesson with Karen Brain and Robin. And it was intense. Not physically¬†challenging, as sometimes they are, but just…Jesus. Oats was NOT HAVING IT. He was upset, pissy, rude, bucking, stalling out, humping his back up…All in the name of progress, ha.

What was it that had him so flustered? Well,¬†surprisingly¬†it was mostly walk-trot work, we barely even cantered! We worked on holding a bend, and asking for the horse to go with just a ‘tap tap’ from the whip. No pump, no legs, nothing else. Body relaxed, a sack of¬†potatoes¬† but they had to GO and they had to BEND. This was mindblowing for Oats.

He would go, and his head would fly up! He would resist! He wanted to go faster! He didn’t want to bend anymore! Buck! Backwards! Stall out! Pull!

We fought for awhile, but at the end of the lesson (after a lot of hissy-fits) he was licking, chewing, shaking his head, and blowing and snorting. It was obvious that he was holding a TON of mental tension during the exercise, and was letting it go after.

He was really sweaty after too, and I wasn’t. More proof that the tension he was holding made him work harder. Karen cautioned us that this kind of work was very hard for a pony like Oats (who is used to doing his own thing) and to not practice it without supervision.

No worries there- yikes, it was so challenging that I would not want to do it on my own anyways. The risk of screwing up is too high for us, on this kind of work.

Summer of Sarah: Rifflandia 2014

It’s come and gone! Rifflandia 2014 was a success!

Mimosas to kick off Rifflandia 2014

Mimosas to kick off Rifflandia 2014

I was lucky enough to be able to get a full pass and we enjoyed lots of music, from the night stages (Market Square on Thursday night) to the park pass Fri-Sun. It was exhausting, but good. I mean, it only comes 1X a year so why not?

My friend came from Vancouver to the Saturday park show and I was so glad. She loves good music, as do I, so it’s always great to have her stay with us.

Standouts include Death Cab for Cutie. I can’t get enough of them live, ever. They are my¬†favourite¬†band, hands down. And, I learned recently that Chris Walla would be leaving DCFC, leaving a significant gap to be filled. So, we watched his last performance with the band, a bittersweet but solid closing.

My fav band

My fav band

And you can check that out here

The others?

  • Many to name: New Pornographers- ok but wanted more of their old stuff, and they played ALL their new stuff. Sigh!
  • Dragonette- ok, a bit poppy for my liking.
  • Airborne Toxic Event- GOOD. This is a solid band. Getting better all the time.
  • Girl Talk- ok, not reaally my type of music but fun and upbeat. Can’t beat the spectacle of glitter/confetti/water guns/floating Earth ball/confetti balloons.
  • Funk Hunters- good, but again not my type of music. Seems like there was a ton of electronic/dj/funk/dance/house this year and I’m not a fan.
  • Serena Ryder- Excellent! Not loving her stuff on the radio, listen to her live. She belts it out!
  • Zed’s Dead- ok, electronic dance-mix stuff. I don’t mind listening to some of it.
  • Half Moon Run- you know, I thought I would like them more? I just…didn’t. I found their music really lacked a big ‘hook’ for me…It was kind of boring.

This year was a marked departure from last year’s Rifflandia, that featured a lot of big-name artists (Courtney Love, Wintersleep, Sloan, Death From Above 1979, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Stars, Mounties) to name a few…And I have to say I didn’t like it was much.

I will definitely go next year but maybe not the full pass.

Throwback Thursday: Marking progress (even if it is tiny!)

I don’t have a ton of Oats jumping photos, but the ones I had before I cringed looking at them. Mainly because I jumped ahead, bigtime. Every photo. Every jump. EUGH!

Jumping ahead: Exhibit A

Jumping ahead: Exhibit A. Photo from last year, courtesy of Jodie.

Horse shows were the worst! I always wanted to see pics but goddamn, if it wasn’t hard to see my position faults at their finest. Oats was always pretty game, but the jumping ahead bit was a really hard flaw to fix.

And we have been fixing it- it literally took years! But, I am happy to say, this year’s and last winter’s photos (the few there are) look quite different. I have mostly conquered this beast!

Not jumping ahead: Exhibit B. Photo courtesy of Christi.

Not jumping ahead: Exhibit B. Photo courtesy of Christi.

And now we just have to focus on getting a better canter, and me not falling off jumping, and we are golden. I rode Oats last night in the field, because it was a lovely evening. He was good!

Oh and I would like to be braver about jumping higher, too. Too much to ask? Why do you say that?¬†I rode Oats last night in the field, because it was a lovely evening. He was good! We trotted up and down the hill, cantered up the hill, cantered in the field, jumped the little line of cavalettis twice, and trotted over the ditch once. A nice and fun ride, for the bratty pony who was very unenthused about being ridden- he actually didn’t want to open his mouth for the bit- hasn’t pulled that move for awhile, jerk!

Down a well of intensity

Well, not literally down a well, though my husband was a month or so ago!

In a well

In a well

I had a lesson with Karen and Oats yesterday, and MANNNN he was pissy! Fired up! Cranked! Kicking out! Ready to go! (not quite but as much as Oats gets).

I was like…WTF? Pissy, kicking out, etc etc etc. I guess the fall season really agrees with him, hahahahahah. That was the most forward he has been in months. Months!

So, we worked with what we had. Lots of gallops in the indoor, bringing him back, extreme bend, and when he wouldn’t bend, lots of circles to get the bend. Ideally, we wouldn’t ‘take him back’ too much and stifle his newfound energy because for Oats, being fired up is a good thing. So, we circled. Lots of circles.

And we tested his obedience to the bend/aids by getting the bend and his head down, and putting more leg on or a swift tap tap with the crop. Head flies up? NOT obedient to the bend! Get back to it.

Soooo it was a long and busy lesson with Oats charging full speed ahead, which is quite unusual for him. Twice I thought he bucked again but in reality one of those was a very good walk-canter transition, and another was a flying lead change left-right that felt very much like a buck.

The good? Karen doesn’t let me buy into his drama when I’m like ”Oh noooo he’s bucking again!!” she’s like, well that one was a kick out, not a buck, or that was just a good bum-first transition, not a buck…AKA nothing to see here, move along!

He was testing me bigtime with the kick-outs though. He pulled that move last week in my jumping lesson too. She said that is normal, he is trying to see what he can get away with before he gives up and goes ‘okay mom, we’ll do what you want.”

So, I just have to keep at it, and the fun part? The more forward he goes, the less chance he has to really rev up into a big buck. Mostly forward? Can kick out to express himself. VERY forward? No room at all for a buck or a kick out. It’s all in the gallop! Though I was still wimping out a bit when she got me to get after him. In the back of my mind was he’s going to buck you off!! So I wasn’t as strong as I could have been.

So, we worked on maintaining/keeping/controlling his expressive energy into circles instead of stifling him. He hates being stifled and for a slow pony, we have to be very careful we don’t get into that loop.

Very interesting ride. I was pondering it for hours after we finished. Oats was so tired, his lower lip was hanging down. He looked like an old man horse, hahah.

Personally, I’ve been feeling kind of angsty. I know last week I said I needed a ‘win’ and I’m still feeling like this. Usually that feeling goes away after a week, but right now…September just feels like one big long losing streak. Not ‘technically’ but emotionally.

Sigh. I am still in a well of intensity.