Monday, June 21, 2021

The Best Day

      Yesterday was Travis's last day of school. I found out in the morning that it was also a half day. There is nothing quite as weird as the last day of school being on a Monday AND being a half day. Seemed like a waste to send him in. But Travis really likes Mr. Tom, who is currently his teacher. 
      So in the morning I got some housework done, gathered laundry and so on. In the afternoon Alex came over. She was Travis's para at school for a couple of years. Alex left to go and teach (the good ones often do that) and we haven't seen her since December. It's been a long time and they sure missed each other. 
     One of my favorite things about Alex, other than she is awesome and fits in perfectly with our family, is that she makes such a solid effort to engage Travis. And she is good at it. He was clearly not sure what to think about her being at our house, after all, that is not where Alex usually is, but she kept talking to him, telling their inside jokes, and pretty soon he was laughing with her like he always does. 
      Ethan had music playing and Alex and Travis would get up to dance often. Or jump and be silly. Whatever they felt like doing. At one point Ethan leaned over and said he loved that she really comes over just for him. I almost cried because it is true. A lot of people like Travis. A lot of people enjoy spending time with Travis. Alex and Travis has a special connection and she is really Travis's friend. She likes us too, but it's Travis she comes for. And that is awesome. 
     Elecktra has a new job, which is just one street over from where we live, so she stopped by after work. We had a cookout to celebrate Travis's last day of school and after we ate we played cornhole. That is one of the few games we can get Travis to play with us. And anything we can get him to do with us is awesome. When it was time to leave  Travis pulled both Alex and Elecktra into a group hug. And it was awesome. 
    And then he posed for a photo with Elecktra. It was definitely a good day. Good food, a good friend, both my kids. Definitely a good day. I didn't get a speck of doll work done, but it doesn't matter. I did some chores and I got to see some great people. It was basically a perfect day. And now I am (maybe) ready to get back to work. 


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Bareback Pads

      Bareback pads are an item that is slightly trickier to make than some others, but they a pretty cool thing to have. I keep on looking for buckles that are large enough to accommodate the wide ribbon so I an have a single girth buckle, which is the most common, but so far the widest buckles are just not wide enough. And there doesn't seem to be a grosgrain ribbon in between 1/8" and 3/8" ribbon*. The largest of the buckles I can find are too small. So I make double buckles, which I have seen on real pads, and it takes a bit longer to make everything. If I switched to a leather girth I could easily make a single buckle, but then my bareback pads would be quite a bit different than they are. So I keep on doing it this way. And looking for different ribbon or different buckles. 
      I also keep on looking on Spoonflower for different fabrics that I think would make fun model horse items. Some stuff is just too big. Some patterns work out pretty well and I end up with some pretty cute prints on tiny items. None of these bareback pads are quite finished yet. As I was doing the finish work I realized that I was out of buckles! So I ordered lots of buckles, to solve that problem, and I can just work on more bareback pads, or other things, while I wait for them to come in. I still have time. 
       The other day I was thinking about doll storage. Dolls, for the most part, are super durable, and don't need anything particularly special for storage. But some people would really like something special to store their dolls in. So I had the idea of making doll pouches, potentially similarly to the micro pouches, but doll sized, with a super smooth lining fabric. I also though of doll sized plastic boxes, potentially decorated with custom stickers. I don't know if either item would be something people would be interested in. But I would love to hear thoughts on that.

*note* I looked up 1/4" ribbon, again, and found a website that looks like they actually have it. Most places will give you 3/8" and call it 1/4". We'll see if I get what I actually need...


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Hunt Seat

     School was finished on Tuesday, weirdest last day ever. But really, the weirdest school year ever. Wednesday I didn't have to get up quite as early, but my alarm (that I had already turned off) went off anyway. But I went back to bed for a half hour before I got up to get Travis off to school. After that my goal for the day was lofty. I was going to stay awake and I was going to function! This is not always easy. Especially when you are really burnt out from the weirdest school year ever. 
     Anyway, I did manage to stay up and I got to work, almost immediately, on sewing a couple of hunt seat outfits. I already have the clothes cut out, the bodies were prepped, and the heads were haired. The dolls were well started and I wanted to see if I could finish both of them on Wednesday. With a whole day available to me I didn't see any reason why I couldn't do it.
     So I got the 2 hunt seat outfits sewn, and a couple more hoodies that were cut out, and then I baked some bread. Ethan has been asking for some bread, but I thought I needed time to let the cream cheese warm to room temperature. Nope, this recipe is soften in the microwave for 45 seconds. Anyway, I made some bread. Then I got out the paint box and painted the 2 doll faces. After that... I took a nap. But it was not a super long nap. Just a little one that I earned for making it through the weirdest school year ever. 
     After my very small nap I got out the doll box to get into dressing the two hunt seat dolls. I started working on both of them at once, but once I had the shirts and breeches on I moved on to working on one at a time until each of them was finished. And I did it. I did work for most of an extra long day, but I managed to meet my goal and get the two of them done. One of them is a commission and the other will be for my live sale, which will be August 14th. I am really pleased with how these two came out. They didn't give me a hard time (which some dolls do) and I was able to stay motivated and keep on working. Now I feel a bit accomplished and don't have to push myself as much the rest of the week. 

Friday, June 18, 2021


     Motivation is a finicky thing. On Wednesday I baked some bread because Ethan asked if I could. He had an idea for a low carb fluffernutter (peanut butter and fluff/marshmallow creme for non-New Englanders) and he of course needed bread to try it out. So I got out my soul bread recipe (no flours of any kind! Not even nut flours) and I made the bread. Ethan then used the Birch Benders vanilla frosting and sugar free peanut butter (you know, ground peanuts and salt) and ta-da! Low card fluffernutter. It is not identical to the real thing, but I have never met a low carb replacement that is. But it was pretty excellent. 
      I have definitely had some days where I struggle to get anything done. Or just don't bother to struggle. Recently I have been pretty good at getting things done. I made some new mini backpacks from the (proper sized prints) fabric I got in from Spoonflower. These are just a few of the ones I have finished so far. I have been pretty motivated. 
     I have also weirdly been wanting to customize something again. Just a Theory is currently hanging out with Breyer (in photos) as the judging for the Best Custom Contest goes on. He is also sitting on the shelf in my pantry, waiting for me to find him a better place to live. But my shelves are pretty full. Even with that the custom bug has bitten me. I spent a bunch of time recently thinking about who I need to cut up next. And Winx is the winner. 
     I was almost getting ready to order one from Breyer when I remembered that Joan Yount had one that she won. I asked if I could buy hers so I could chop it up and she laughed and said I could have it for shipping. Yay! So pretty soon I can start working on my next custom. I am going to just totally resculpt the neck on this one. Well see how that goes. For now I did a bit more work on the Andalusian mare I got from Jennifer Buxton. I don't even remember when I got her, but I wrote about my idea for the long term project back in November. I have done pretty much nothing with her since then. But I got her neck sanded a bit more, decided I wanted her tail lowered just a bit and took care of that, and I almost got some primer on her. But then I had to run out for a bit. So maybe today or tomorrow I can work on her some more. I think I want my CM Winx to be a chestnut. Which means I should probably learn to paint chestnut. That might be the color for the Andalusian. Now I just need to get her prepped. And maybe give myself a deadline. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The World Through A Horse's Ears

      It's been almost 12 years since I have looked at the world through a horse's ears. The last time I was on a horse was a month before my wedding. It's been a long time. I thought part of the reason was because I didn't have any boots, of any kind, and I have always felt it's a good idea to wear boots, even on a trail horse. It was almost 2 years ago that I bought my boots, and my first ever pair of breeches. Maybe having them would get me on a horse. Nope. 
      I have friends that own horses, I think I always have, but I have always felt it was rude to ask to ride their horse. Last August I did go and visit my good friend Marisa, and her awesome pony Bronte, but there was no riding that day since Bronte lost a shoe. That was fine, I had a great time with my pony for a day. I had had my breeches and boots for about a year and they stayed in the car. They were closer to a horse than they had ever been. 
     Yesterday, I finally got to get back on a horse (pony, close enough!). I had those few seconds of oh crap! that I get before getting a tattoo, getting on a motorcycle, and now apparently getting on a horse. It has been a VERY long time after all. I'd love to say that everything came back to me immediately, and maybe it did in some ways. But not completely. 
       For one thing, every horse is a bit different to ride. I have spend the majority of my time in the saddle on trail horses. If I was just a rider I was likely on a horse that I could do backflips on and they would just follow the butt in front of them. If I was leading I was likely on one of the auction horses, and I could (and had) ended up with a wide variety of horses that way. Even though it had been a really long time I remembered at least a lot of things. 
     Something became crystal clear for me while I was riding. One, Bronte is super awesome whether I am standing next to her or sitting on her back. I have a vague nervousness about horses occasionally since I got kicked by one on a trail (he didn't like my horse, the kick was not aimed at me, but it did get my ankle) and one tried to kill me in a stall once. My fault, lol. But now I make sure that even when I am comfortable I am not TOO comfortable. But Bronte made me comfortable. And she made me realize how out of shape I am. 
     I would also kindly ask everyone who is getting ready to comment on my equitation to just stop. I didn't make Bronte mad, she got nice and warmed up while I was on her, neither of us got hurt, it's all good. 
     After I got Bronte warmed up Marisa got on her and had her trot for a bit. 
     And also got her into a bit of a canter. I watched, and stretched, and I felt every muscle I had forgotten I had. I'm amazed I could get Bronte to go anywhere at all, my squeeze muscles were as weak as overcooked spaghetti. Marisa had no problem getting her to go where she wanted her to go. I need to get back into working out. I did sign up for the Breyerfest 5K after all. I don't have a lot of time to get ready for that. Likely I will walk that though. 
      Even though I suffer from RBF (clearly) I had a really good time. I had another oh crap moment when it was time to get off. I totally remembered how, but it had been a while, my ankle was cranky, and I didn't know if I would hit the ground and my legs would give out. At least it wasn't a far drop if I did (I stuck the landing, lol!)
      I spent a lot of time brushing Bronte again, and I got to ride a bit. Best of all I got to spend time with Marisa. Which is always something I enjoy. Thank you again Marisa, for sharing your pony with me! My face isn't showing it in this photo, but I had a really excellent time!


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

All About The Angles

     I got an email from Breyer the other day advertising the photo shows. The email said that photo showing is as easy as taking a photo of your model horse, telling the judge a bit about your entry, and uploading the photo to ponybytes. Technically, this is accurate. But taking a good photo, something that shows your horse/entry to it's fullest potential, is not easy at all. 
     I am not a great photographer. Some of that is I am a little impatient about things. Sometimes. There are so many angles that matter when taking a photo of an entry. You need to have your lighting angle just right, or things look weird. You need to have your camera angle perfect, so you show what you need to show, but also the best side of it. That can be tricky. Here I have included a nice close up photo of my horse from his roping entry. Because putting his tack on took a long time. And I like the photo. The back girth was somehow missing a tongue buckle. And all those buckles in general take a long time. Anyway, I got everything on him and this is my preferred side of my horse. 
      I decided to pull out the two barrels and a pole game for Just A Theory. I haven't used it in a while because it really only works with a standing or walking horse. And I have not shown either in a while. This angle covered a lot of the horse and I didn't like it. 
     I still don't love this angle, but it is a bit easier to see what is going on. The doll's dainty hands make this a bit tricky to set up. A lot of sticky wax was involved.
     Next I had a rope gate for my arena trail entry. I try to get away from poles entries any time I can. Though, in general, arena trail is usually a ton of poles entries. Anyway, I really like this photo, and it shows the best side of my horse. 
    I took this photo just for fun. Though come to think of it, I have seen actual entries in photo shows taken from above like this. While it amuses me, it's not a competitive photo.
      In the end I chose a photo from this angle (though not this exact one I don't think). It shows the wonky side of my horse (such a chonky neck!) but it also shows the obstacle, the tack, the doll sitting correctly, and her actually putting the rope back on the post. Though come to think of it, maybe I need to add a note to my entry saying she is closing the gate. Since if she was just opening it she would be backwards... hmm.
     The angle of this photo makes it look like Karen is asking to speak to a manager (apologies to all of the Karens I know, even the ones who also make the jokes, who have to live with their name being associated with a complainer). Maybe she feels her cows made her time slower, who knows. I don't love or hate this team penning entry. Maybe the angle of the pic is making me less than thrilled with it. Maybe my horse is too chill, I have no idea. It still sort of amuses me. 
     My last angle to discuss is not about model horse showing. It's about the student in the back of one of my bio classes who had this on his screen about 10 minutes into taking his final exam. Clearly, he is working hard. And maybe forgot that there were 2 teachers at the perfect angle to see what he was doing. 
     Back to model horses. Clearly, photo showing is not easy. Taking a good photo of a model or performance entry is definitely not easy. But just as with anything else, if you work at it, it gets better. I have some really amazing outdoor photos of my horse, Bootlegger, that I took years ago. They are still quite competitive. A lot of my other old photo show pics are not, but they were tricky because most photo shows wanted realistic backgrounds. I didn't have that option. The ones I took for Breyerfest last year... were bad. Bad lighting, more than one backdrop, which was a little distracting in some entries, bad lighting, not enough attention to all the details of tack, dolls, angles... bad lighting... I think I have mostly solved my lighting issues, though my lighting is still iffy at times. I should refer back to the post where I showed my setup, it was on point that day. I have to say though, my new arena has made a world of difference! Too bad it doesn't work for anything that should be outside of an arena, lol. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Another Latte

     Caramel Latte made her performance debut in August of 2012 in More Fun Live, performance on the porch. She did extremely well in a variety of classes. Eventually she earned overall performance champ. The post on Mocha Latte took an incredibly long time to write, this one has taken a lot of time to gather photo. Since I am pretty sure everyone’s favorite part of performance posts are the photos I will mostly just let you enjoy the pictures.
     Caramel Latte has been shown in a large variety of classes over the years and I have, at times, challenged myself to come up with entries for every class, or nearly every class in a show. She is definitely a fun horse!

      Over the last 10 years Caramel Latte has been shown a lot, both live and in photo shows. In case anyone is curious, all of my Leggs models, which were sculpted by Liesl Dalpe, have Latte in their name. Years ago, when Liesl and I regularly got together to work, we would almost always have hot or iced lattes. It seems fitting that it should be in the names. I am hopeful that sooner or later I will be able to add some more Lattes to my collection!