Stationery Porn

I just wasted approximately three hours browsing the internet for some kind of stationery porn. A few weeks ago, the fabulous Susie of My Milo & Me posted on her Instagram about a stationery delivery subscription service, Proper Post. I am a big fan of beautiful paper, pens and pencils, and also just about the worst person ever at remembering to buy and send cards of any kind for any occasion. I finally revisited her post, determined to treat myself to something lovely for the next 12 months.

My sadness came at the realisation that Proper Post is a British-based company, hence the beautiful sense of style that so appealed to me, but the chances are they don’t deliver to Washington as part of their First Class Post deal. But maybe they do! I emailed them to ask. Continue reading

Runtastic and the Horse Who Doesn’t Run

I tried running for a while. It was the barefoot running craze time, everybody lusted after a pair of Vibram Fivefingers – I tried those too and hated them. I even ran a few “Extreme Trail” races. I hated those too. Well, I hated the running part. I didn’t mind the mud and the camaraderie at all.

A friend of mine has been using Runtastic to track all of her rides on her three horses for the year. Facebook will pop up with her stats, which she simply labels with the name of whichever horse she was riding. Some days she rides more than one of them. I spend a few minutes staring at the time she has put in, wondering how on earth she manages it, and then I remember something important about her. Continue reading

Beating the Binge

Britain is well known for it’s binging culture. Mostly for the binge drinking of alcohol, which I think is a misnomer, because “binge” suggests a period of not partaking followed by complete gluttony, and generally I think Britain is a regular excess drinker. But the binge that I’m talking about today is not booze. It’s my own personal struggle against decadence until I want to vomit: sugar. Continue reading

Last night, I dreamed I was pregnant – a kickstart

I dreamed I was really, really pregnant. That baby was due any minute now. I was tired, breathless, my back hurt, and I struggled in and out of chairs. I wondered for a moment if I should cancel my personal training session for that day, seeing as how I might be having a baby any minute. I pondered if maybe we should go to Walmart and at least buy a crib, as we didn’t have any baby supplies at home yet, and this baby was coming any minute.

I woke up, momentarily wondering if the weight I could feel on my belly really was a growing baby… Continue reading

The Laundry Room Renovation

I live in a tiny house. Teeny tiny eeny weeny house. The bonus of this is that I can vaccuum the entire floor area without unplugging the hoover from one room to another. Another bonus is that the WIFI signal reaches powerfully into every room, and halfway across the yard, unlike at my parents’ house, where, during our Christmas visit, our bedroom was the only room in the house with zero WIFI signal, and the only place where I wanted to use the internet. A con to living in a teeny tiny house is not quite having enough space sometimes.

We came home after Christmas and Cowboy offered to make a start on the teeny tiny laundry room for me. This project has been poorly planned on my part. I ordered appliances in the Black Friday sales and got myself a stonking deal, but beyond that, I hadn’t quite figured out the finer details.

The set up that we had inherited from the previous owners was sketchy at best. It is a minuscule room. A top loading washer and a front loading dryer were installed along the long wall, in front of the window. On the opposite wall was a line of wall cabinets which came down just far enough to make it impossible to get into either the washer or the dryer without bending double and doing some funky gymnastics. I used to grab the laundry out of the dryer and have to reverse, with my head by my knees, arse first, out of the tiny gap beneath the cabinets, scattering socks and underwear as I went. It needed to change. It was absurd.

Cowboy was keen to get my appliances out of his shop, so he was eager to crack on, and crack on he did. Continue reading

The Perfect Winter Soup: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice

I had this craving one day a few weeks ago. I needed warm, thick, carb-laden, wholesome chicken soup. I needed celery and carrots and onions swamped in gloopy, glorious chicken soup. I needed it for my soul.

I also needed it to happen in my crockpot, because I had a lot going on that day. I have a lot going on every day just at the moment. Today, I am hunched over the computer while I put together essays on equine anatomy systems. Just maybe, by Friday, I might be done with school. Maybe?

I headed to the one place you can be sure to find crockpot goodness on the internet: Pinterest. It was awash with recipes, but a lot of them had one crucial flaw. Continue reading

The Bubble

I had to set a few things down for a while lately, this blog being one of them. One other was folding and putting away laundry. Another was cooking food that didn’t come out of a box. I am working full-time on horses for no pay while I work towards my diploma for equine massage, and the weeks started to get to me.

Then I heard about Paris yesterday, and realised how very little I hear about the outside world from in here, my 11 acre bubble. In a fit of desperation to see everything good and beautiful about Paris, I watched Amelie late last night, and hoped that some speck of my good thoughts and positive energy about the city would reach those affected by the terrible incidents.

Lately, I was hit with the less romantic part of living out here in the county. Continue reading

Life vs Pinterest – a fail

Pinterest, that astoundingly addictive vortex in the internet, is awash with images of pristine kitchens, crisp linens in spacious bedrooms, and totally easy and effortless solutions to storage, cleaning, fitness, eating, and otherwise existing like you live in a magazine.

I spend far too much time looking at wall storage, small space storage, crafty things and infographics about the cleanest chicken coops in the world. I wonder if I might ever have my life so in order that my home could be a popular pin.

The reality of my situation is that my life will never look like Pinterest life. I live in the countryside, where my kitchen floor is the only piece of flooring in the house that isn’t a shade of brown, but a pale cream linoleum, and it also happens to be the main thoroughfare into the house. My kitchen floor is always, always dirty. Hay, dust, animal hair and general grime blows in to my kitchen every time the door is opened – which is often.

I have no dishwasher, and only a square foot of counter space, and my kitchen always has some sort of dirty plate, mug or saucepan waiting for a load of dishes worth running a full sink of water for. My shelves and cupboards are crammed, stacked, messy and cluttered. Thanks to the epic shedding power of the big blue dog, there is blue hair everywhere.

I have stacks of post on various corners of other pieces of furniture, where I’m hoping I’ll remember to do something with it all. Half of my living room is a mess because we live in it, and half of it is a mess because we’ve never got around to making it livable. I have cardboard boxes in my hall way. My bathroom is always home to a layer of dirt and sweaty clothing, and my shower curtain has a brown mark where, with muddy hands, we pull it shut. My laundry room, which is the most poorly thought out room in existence, has a pile of clean laundry in one corner which I just haven’t got around to putting away.

Our home will never be the crisp, cold, cleanliness of Pinterest, and at times I despair at the endless work of keeping it vaguely civilised, but what it boils down to is that I am happy with our mottled brown carpet that swallows dirt and animal hair without showing a speck of the stuff. I love that we work outside so much, that we have land on which we can house our animals, that we have the dog and the cat as our companions and that they can exist as a real dog and a real cat – going outside, keeping their claws, shedding naturally with the seasons. I am glad of our dusty bathroom and the hot water that makes our pipes sing, because our hardworking bodies are in need of the steam. The laundry is never ending because we are lucky enough to move with our work instead of sit all day long.

However, I decided there was a pin that I could tackle, and be victorious. As a first-time chicken owner, I need a bit of guidance here and there, and Pinterest is readily available with tutorials on how to do your twice-yearly deep clean in the hen house. I settled on one that seemed doable. It asked for white vinegar, something that I am awash with thanks to the marvel that is Costco, and some elbow grease.

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It started easily enough. I shovelled out the old bedding, sweeping out the corners and nesting boxes, and chipping off some of the old manure that was stuck on the concrete.  Cowboy wandered by on his way to find some tools for our fence building project, and commented that it looked like I was going overboard on the cleaning. I told him to go away because I knew exactly what I was doing.

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I found a small hole in one corner of the coop that looked encouragingly like a drain, although full of old shavings. I fetched the hose pipe and my gallon of vinegar. I sprayed down the floor and sloshed the vinegar about with gay abandon.

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The water began to rush towards the drain hole. I thought I was gloriously successful, and I went away to help Cowboy build fence while the floor drained off. About half an hour later, I went back to check on the draining progress, and found…

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… a lake of watery chicken-pooy vinegary liquid, that wasn’t draining anywhere. Panic set in. I poked a screwdriver into the drain hole, hoping that it would miraculously clear. All that achieved was stirring up more chicken poo and making the water even more disgusting. I knew I had to fix this before Cowboy discovered my epic fail, seeing as he was waiting for me to get done with the hen house so I could help him with the fence.

I grabbed the shovel, and did the only thing I could think of – I shovelled the water, about a cup at a time, out of the little door to the chicken run, so that Cowboy wouldn’t see what I was doing. It was painfully slow progress. I eventually reduced the lake to just a small puddle, and I hoped that it would dry out while I went to help with fence again.

“How is your chicken project going?” Cowboy asked as I grabbed the power drill.

“Oh, fine, fine!” I squeaked. Never mind that I gave up on scrubbing the walls clean and using the shop-vac to get rid of the cobwebs. Spiders mean fewer flies, right? Spiders can stay.

The floor dried somewhat, but still had puddles on the floor here and there. My solution was to just pile two wheelbarrow loads of shavings over the top with the theory that the shavings would absorb the water and the bed was deep enough that the chickens wouldn’t feel the damp.

It seems to be working. Hens are happy enough, although still refuse to lay in the nesting boxes and prefer to lay right under the roosting perches. Birds…

Sunday Morning

It isn’t even 8am yet, and I have somehow found myself out of bed, dressed (albeit in my finest of mens’ trackies/sweatpants and a holey jumper), almost-upright on the sofa, having already been outside and across the yard to open the door for the chickens. Only one hen, Two-Eyed Jim, was smart enough to find her way outside while I was there, but the others may follow soon enough.

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I’ve been leaving an alarm set for 7am this week, so that even on days when I don’t have a reason to get out of bed, I do at least get my sleep disrupted. Richard has been helping to motivate me in the mornings, and between the cat, the alarm and my habit of drinking too much tea before bed, I am slowly getting out of bed earlier and earlier. The dog is appreciative of his earlier breakfast time, and it has meant that I get to see some of the finer things about living in the Pacific Northwest in the autumn.

The dew is heavy, thick like a blanket on the grass every morning. The grass has been growing rapidly since we started getting rain again, and the whole lawn starts sparkling as the sun hits it. The infamous Fall colours are starting to appear in the trees along our west border, and yes, they are lovely.

At home, I have finally repainting the living room from the gloomy purple into a scrumptious golden sandy colour, and now my furniture doesn’t clash with the walls and I can sleep at night. Cowboy made me a beautiful shelf out of old cedar boards from the old barn, and it looks divine, except on the back where I experimented with homemade beeswax and oil wood finish and changed the colour…

I washed and rehung the curtains, except for the one pair that I ruined…

Now I just have the clear the dining table of junk, find a home for all of the junk under the dining table, attack the mountain of clean laundry that just won’t put itself away, and perhaps get a grip on some kind of routine. The routine is close, beginning to form itself, and I expect it will be overturned by something unexpected just as I get settled in to it. My life just goes that way.