In the am...

Monday, August 22, 2016

It’s getting later in the year so the sun wakes up around the same time as I do now.  I perform my morning ablutions in the dark and both of us slowly stretch our limbs during that 6 am time frame.  By the time I’m up and running in the office, there’s a soft glow that echoes my mental wake up shining through the office window.  Everything is bathed in a gentle morning light right now.  The empty lot across the street is a plush green carpet and even the parking lot seems to be painted in lavender velvet.  I’m not fooling myself, really.  It’s still August, and it’s still hotter than balls outside, despite the deluge we received last week.  But in the morning and in the air conditioned bubble, I can pretend that the sun is a little gentler and as a result, the day will be as well.

Small favors in August

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I understand why all of Europe goes on vacation for a month during August.  It’s absolutely miserably hot and the last thing that anyone wants to be doing is working.  Even the mosquitoes have buzzed to a pause and quit biting during the day.  Unfortunately, instead of going on a month-long vacation to the azure coast, I’m stuck in the middle of Texas heat that tries its hardest to kill you.  These are my lifesavers of late, the things that keep my sanity in the moments where I’m about to shrivel up into a strip of human jerky:

Rain - The rain, oh the rain.  Texans can recall the exact time of day that it starts raining again.  We pause outdoors, despite the deluge, to catch that welcome scent of damp earth and hot pavement when we first experience rain after a month without.  I never thought I’d be so happy to see a gray sky but here I am, dancing a sleepy little rain dance.  We’re getting rain this entire week, and it’s dropping temps into the 80s.  So we can actually venture outside without immediately becoming desiccated husks.

Ballcaps - I’ve finally fallen firmly into the ballcap camp.  I’ve never been a fan of them before, somehow unable to see how their universal utility could apply to me, unique individual that I am.  After “borrowing” an endless supply of B’s caps, I’ve gone out and purchased the most redneck baseball caps known to man - I have one from Tractor Supply, Cabela’s, and Texas Humor.  The camo one is by far my favourite, unsurprisingly, because of the obnoxious Texas-ness of it.  But it’s saved the general public from looking at my sweaty, messy hair and also saved my hair from the bird droppings at lunch the other day.  That’s a win-win situation, folks.
My New Tx Humor Cap

Pickled things - Pickle-flavoured popcorn, fried pickles, everything pickled.  I ate fried pickles and cheddar cheese waffle fries and didn’t have to eat anything else for the next two days.  I’ll have some more of that please, thanks.

Kitchen appliances - I know you guys are all thinking, how random does this list get?  I brought home my KitchenAid stand mixer that’s been living at my parents’ house and just last week, B bought a slow cooker.  We’ve been whipping up tasty treats every since (homemade oatmeal raisin cookies last night).  This weekend, I tried this balsamic mustard tri-tip slow cooker recipe.  When I stumbled into my apartment five hours later, it was as if a magical cooking fairy had prepared dinner and summoned up an enticing aroma to dance around my kitchen.

And now the interactive part of the blog experience.  Share with me your favourite ballcaps, pickled things, and slow cooker recipes in the comments below?  Please please please help save my sanity.

Woman of Steel

Monday, August 8, 2016

I suppose there’s no gentle way of saying that I’ve been trampled by my horse, so there it is.  However, not sure if this is reassuring to you but it is to me, you can be trampled by a horse and live.
In order to get from our barn to the trails that we ride, we have to skirt by an active golf course and traverse under an overpass and through the woods.  Since I’ve been riding, the entrance/exit on to the trail has been framed by the branches of a dead tree and with each successive month, the branches sagged down further and further until they no long provide clearance for a horse and rider.  On Saturday morning, we made it out to the trail with no problem but on the way back, Ryon decided to jump the dead limbs on the ground which resulted in me ducking to avoid being smacked in the face by the low overhanging branches.

I leaned too far forward too late, lost my balance, and slipped off his side.  I ended up underneath him, and then everything both happened really slow and really fast.  I noticed how frantic he was that I had come off his back (but hung on to the reins), saw where his hooves were coming down all around me, and tried to curl up into a ball.  But not quickly enough.

I heard collective gasps from the women that I was riding with.  I was told later that I may have squeaked.  His hoof came down firmly and squarely on my torso, right in the gut.  And then the pressure was gone and he was standing next to me, where I was lying in the dirt.  In atypical Ryon fashion, he stared at me a bit wide-eyed as I picked myself up and dusted myself off.

After standing up and catching my breath, my trainer asked if we needed to go to the hospital.  I didn’t feel like anything was broken and replied no.  While stiffly and gingerly hopping back on Ryon and riding back to the barn, I was asked that same question multiple times.  Finally satisfied with my answer, we cleaned up and went to lunch.  It wasn’t until later (as it typically is) when the adrenaline wore off that I started to notice the pain in my legs and, oddly enough, finger.  He must have grazed my legs (either kicked or stepped on), as that pain was a lot more intense than in my stomach.  It had all happened so quickly, I just didn’t happen to notice.

Luck was on my side for several reasons:

If Ryon had stepped two inches up, he would have stepped on my ribs.  I don’t even want to know what that would have felt like or what organs would have been damaged in that process.

Ryon didn’t put all of his weight on my stomach (or legs from that matter).  Also, I’m relatively in shape.  I clenched up my core when I saw his hoof coming down toward me.  My abs are still sore today but nothing internally has been damaged.

Ryon was supposed to get new shoes last week, but the farrier has been on vacation.  His new shoes would have been as sharp as a knife and probably would have left my skin in ribbons.  As it is, his old ones have left marks on my torso from where the skin was rubbed off.

My head is fine.  Typically when I fall, my head will bounce (awesome, right?).  This time, I landed on my shoulder / back and on some dirt and leaves, which cushioned my fall, and I was wearing a helmet.  Always wear a helmet.

So here we are on Monday, still alive after being danced on by a horse.  A little battered and bruised, everything is turning a lovely shade of dark blue and purple.  And I can’t bend my finger.  But with a hobby that involves such a large animal, you know you’re taking risks and you will fall when riding as often as we do, it’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when.  You take the necessary safety precautions to manage the risks as best you can and throw in a bit of luck.

Double lasagna all the way

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Photo from Food52
Ever since it got too hot to even think about going to a restaurant, I’ve been on a cooking frenzy.  Luckily, I don’t think of cooking as work and, as a bonus, it rids me of my manic energy.  I’m able to channel that can’t-sit-still feeling into a productive project whose benefits are shared (and hopefully enjoyed) by all.  There are those days that I feel the need to cook something good, something heavy on umami.  It may or may not necessarily the best thing to feed your body but is the best for your soul.  Your poor, overworked, stressed out soul.  In one week alone, I made lasagna twice (red & white), which had the combined effect of feeding myself and my friends and ending the day with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.  Also, this almost goes without saying but lasagna pairs well with wine.

The red lasagna (Food52’s birthday lasagna) involves making your own bechamel sauce and own bolognese, both of which I’m okay with.  And both recipes didn’t take as much time as I thought would be involved in pulling it all together.  I actually doubled the white lasagna recipe to feed four people for an impromptu dinner party.

Oh, and then I made this no-bake strawberry cheesecake as well, which was awesome because my oven was already occupied by my lasagna.

Moral of the story?  Do something for yourself and for others and make dinner tonight.

On not buying the ranch

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Ranch
There’s a ranch that I’ve been coveting.  It’s a cool six acres on the southeast side of Dallas with two barns, an outdoor arena, and a cute, baby blue ranch house on it already.  The property can stable 21 horses and backs up to a trail system that you could ride for days.  Amazingly, it’s only 15 minutes from downtown Dallas; you can see the skyline from the pasture.  I could have Ryon eating grass in my backyard and still get to work within half an hour.  I’d get a tractor, set up my own jump course, and populate the extra space with a dog / chickens / goats!  My mind has already jumped ahead to imagining myself sitting out on the wraparound porch in a rocking chair, watching the sunset.  I even took it so far as calling the realtor to see if I could schedule a walk through.

A month ago I was so excited about the ranch; I had to tell everyone about my harebrained ideas.  This month, you couldn’t pay me to even think about moving, renovating an entire house, and figuring out the livestock situation.  I can barely summon up the energy to swim through the Texas heat and drop off beer and supplements at the barn for Ryon.  Would I be able to wake up before the crack of dawn for morning feedings and then do a property check at night before going to bed and still work a 12 hour work day?  What about during a thunderstorm / extreme heat / freezing cold?

Realistically, this is Texas and there are plenty of plots of land like this available (although maybe not as close to town).  The question is whether or not my life needs a drastic lifestyle change like moving to a ranch or will something like a new haircut do the trick.  I’m god-awful at sitting still, particularly when it seems as though everyone else’s life is filled with forward progress.  People are buying property left and right, building homes, renting them out, and I’m still in the same apartment building I’ve lived in for the past three years.

There’s another home that I’ve been coveting; I just found it yesterday online.  It’s been completely remodeled and has a huge oak tree in the front yard.  There’s a built in, wall-to-ceiling wine rack in the dining room, a mudroom (perfect for my mess), and beautiful new pergola outside.  It has an open floor plan and is perfect for parties.  The house is a quick drive to my office and the barn, and I wouldn’t need to get on the highway to either location.

To say I’ve got the house hunting bug would be an understatement.  I like the idea of buying a home, decorating and furnishing it, and having a place to host people over.  But like most things, as people tell me, it’s a solid amount of work, not all of which is fun.  You've got bugs, landscaping, cleaning, and a whole host of other issues to deal with.  Maybe it’s time to get that haircut.

In July

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I’m jumping firmly into July a little bit jet lagged, a little bit sick, and a whole lot tired.  It’s been a constant theme this summer of endless complaints revolving around being tired and a general lack of energy.  My very own mystery-whodunit that I’ve been unable to solve.  Don’t worry, I’ll put a doctor on the case if the problem doesn’t resolve itself soon.

Last week, in my London hotel room, I was spoiled by my very own personal Nespresso machine.  It’s so terribly easy to pull myself an espresso every morning; I ended up with zero jet lag whilst in London and being hopped up on caffeine the entire trip until the last night.  Hotels, take note.  Espresso machines are much more useful than mini bars.  It was mid-July and you couldn’t so much tell that it was summertime in London.  Apart from the small dash of sunlight that peered through the haze when I landed on Tuesday, the weather was very much the same as it always has been - grey and drizzly.  I fit in one workout during my trip with a guest pass to the Virgin Active fitness club (swanky, indoor lap pool).  You can tell most Londoners haven’t been able to squeeze in their summer holiday yet; I was the most tan person in the gym by a kilometer.

Reminder: must slather on sunscreen when outside lounging by the pool

Two weeks ago, it was Independence Day and we celebrated in grand ol’ American fashion by watching an airshow and fireworks on the tarmac of the local airport.  In traditional grumpy Rooth fashion, I threw a fit about it; it was too hot, windy, long, crowded.  The sun is getting to me, or something is.  Something about the summer is worming its way into the old noggin and stirring up general malaise and malcontent.  The stifling heat?  The bugs?

Reminder: must update gratitude list - there’s got to be things I’m grateful for that outweigh the summertime sads

In two weeks, we'll be into August and the dog days of summer.  Back to school will be the theme of the day yet the sun will continue to beat down relentlessly.  Even the pool will feel like tepid bath water tainted with chlorine.  Air condition and hydration will be the words of the month.

Reminder: must load up on popsicles and ice cream to beat the heat


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Y’all will be happy to hear that I’ve successfully earned a survival badge from our summertime adventure through the Great White North.  In true Rooth vacation fashion, there was practically zero downtime.  We were happily swarmed by the Michigan welcome wagon and jumped straight into a family dinner with B’s relatives after landing in Detroit.  B’s parents’ house is like something out of a movie, set down a stretch of long gravel driveway and book-ended by a hand carved wooden sign and a big red barn.  His parents have coffee every morning out on their large front porch, amidst hanging flower baskets and perfectly manicured flowerbeds.  However, we spent the majority of our time in their family cabin even further Up North.

Prior to making the trip, I had received multiple warnings about the cabin in the woods, which frankly started to sound like a bad horror movie in the making.  There would likely be little to no cell phone service.  It would be more than prudent to pack a jacket and long pants.  The mosquitoes are the size of birds, etc etc etc.

Upon arrival, we opened up the cabin in earnest Boy Scout-style organization with efficient and orderly dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, and mowing the front lawn as well as their walking path in the woods.  Luckily (for me), there was electricity, running water, and a full indoor bathroom that B’s dad and uncle installed shortly after they purchased it in the 80s.  Each of the bunk beds was laid out with electric blankets (we didn’t need to use them - thank goodness) and at night the temperature dropped into the 40s.  We woke every morning to a crackling fire in the fireplace and fresh pot of coffee.

You would think that with the fresh air and lack of noise, I’d sleep like a rock at night.  It turns out I’m the ultimate city girl, unable to sleep with all the birds chirping and animal sounds at night.  I’m much more accustomed to falling asleep to the roar of plane engines overhead and the dull thrum of traffic.

As true Michiganders, B and his parents played tour guide on my trip Up North.  It’s lovely to go on vacation and just show up without doing any booking or mapping out of where you’re going to go.  I highly recommend going on that type of vacation if you’re given the chance.  Among our Michigan activities included:

  • Climbing Sleeping Bear Dunes, which are big sand dunes next to Lake Michigan on the west side of the state.  I’ve been told that climbing sand dunes are very much a must-do Midwestern tourist activity.  From the the top of the dunes, I had a vantage point of the bluest water I’ve seen this year.  Later, we wandered down to the rocky beaches of Lake Michigan and combed the “surf” for Petoskey stones which are native to the state.  The water was as frigid as advertised, but there were still a handful of brave kids splashing in the waves
  • Driving tour around Leelanau peninsula accompanied by wine tasting.  We also tried locally produced blueberry and cranberry wine which was sickeningly sweet and what B called Ocean Spray on crack
  • Four wheeling around the state land surrounding the cabin.  We drove by early bird campers set up in campsites, claiming their spots a week before the Fourth of July celebrations, and finished covered in a fine layer of Michigan dust and dirt
  • Shooting pistols and rifles on their homemade, outdoor range.  It was a blast (sorry, not sorry) and even more fun watching B get smoked by his dad in a shoot off
  • Paddling down 18 river miles where a bald eagle flew out right in front of our canoe and perched on a tree downstream, eyeing us like the meat kebabs we were 
  • Wildlife spotting, which became a kind of “I spy” game, looking out for deer, hummingbirds, and turkeys, including a flock of baby ones
  • Learning how to play all the board games with B’s family.  Slight exaggeration, just Clue and Sorry.  Funny enough, no one wanted to play Speed Scrabble with me

The Michigan countryside was spotted with immaculate farmsteads with picture perfect red barns, trusty old blue tractors.  It was a lovely break from the highways and noise / light / air pollution of the city, and we’re already planning for the next trip back, which I’m masochistically kind of hoping may be during the winter wonderland.

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