Sunday, November 27, 2016

Quick Post - Sunday (and more) Sale!

Today's been a busy day: errands were run, some Christmas presents were bought, an incredible package arrived...  And...

Over in my Etsy shop. I've just posted a coupon code for $5 off any order of $10 or more.

(This is my first time using their coupon system, so I hope it works!)

The sale was going to be for Cyber Monday, but I couldn't wait - I'm really pretty horrible at surprises, just ask Jeff whenever I buy a present for him - so it's Sunday (through Wednesday).


I think I've decided to let some of my custom horses go and will be listing a few of them for sale, to good homes, coming soon.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Crochet Craziness

A little over two weeks ago, I learned to crochet.  Well, I learned enough to make a scarf anyway.  My goal was to make as many scarves as I could before this weekend, for a donation to a local nursing home.

I ended up making six scarves altogether, here they are!

My first is a rainbow and white colored scarf.  I'll be keeping this one, since it's a bit sloppy - first time ever doing this and all that...

Next up is peach and white, or as Jeff dubbed it: the "orange creamsicle".

Then I made my first solid-colored one and it is a favorite for two reasons.  One: it really shows off the crochet rows.  Two: it was made from very soft yarn.

After that, I mixed the soft purple with a soft light pink yarn for another soft scarf.

This one is actually two different shades of red yarn, one a bit brighter than the other.

For my last one I did red and green.  I was worried it might look too "Christmas-y", but I think the colors work well together - a bright red and dark green.

Today I officially finished them all, by tucking in the ends.

Tomorrow I'll be dropping them off to the person collecting the donations.  I hope they will be enjoyed by the residents of the nursing home.

This brings the 2016 Great Crochet Craziness Marathon to an end and that's probably a good thing.  I'm behind on a lot of other things now and I think my hands can use the break!

Though I have already started one more scarf, for my Granny.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lazy Day

Today's been a lazy day.  We had a good Thanksgiving yesterday; we went over to a friend's place for dinner.  They made the main meal, we made the desserts.  We went over with our usual specialties: pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, and an apple crisp.  Plus, by request from our hosts, a pecan pie.  All made from scratch.  There were only 4 of us eating.  "You get a pie!  And you get a pie!  Everyone gets a pie!"  (or a crisp)

Side note: we had crisp and pie for breakfast today.  Oh, the perks of being an adult.

After last night's feast, we watched two movies (Captain America: Civil War and Ant Man) and a bit of the first episode of Grand Tour - the new show with the guys from Top Gear.  While all of that was going on, I was crocheting away and I managed to finish another scarf for the nursing home donation!  I think that just about brings my spontaneous crochet marathon, begun a couple of weeks ago, to a close.  The donations are due in this weekend.  I'll be posting about all of the scarves soon, maybe tomorrow.

Today we've just been mostly hanging around the house.  Jeff's been doing computer stuff.  I assembled a few more saddle stands, but other than that I've been playing Minecraft for a good part of the day.  I recently discovered that they've added llamas to the game (!!), so my latest effort there is setting up what will be a llama ranch.  (haha)

My first sighting of Minecraft llamas

I haven't played much Minecraft lately, but it's still fun for a break.  My favorite part is ranching and farming (similar to my real interests), so the addition of a new crop or animal is exciting.

Baby llama!

My first question, and possibly yours...  Do they spit in the game?  Yes.  Yes they do.

Tomorrow I need to get back to work - on laser stuff and studio stuff.  In the studio: I'm hoping to get the rest of the saddle stands put together, maybe even photographed and listed.  I'd like to make a few duct tape halters to sell (finally!) and maybe even work on one of my started Arabian costumes.

Oh, and I want to put up the Christmas tree.

I hope everyone is recovering well from the food comas and holiday happenings.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving - Little Horses and Little Tree

and a little pumpkin...


I've often admired the holiday-themed model horse pictures that others share and have always wanted to do my own.  This morning I randomly grabbed a couple of "props" - a small decorative pumpkin left over from Halloween time, and my favorite Bonsai tree, currently wearing its pretty fall foliage.

Next, I had to decide on some horses.  Who should I use?  I ended up grabbing several of my SM customs, favorites and/or ones who are currently doing well in MEPSA showing.  I'm particularly thankful for that, so I figured it was appropriate.

Without further ado, I present my first "official" holiday photo:

It's not the greatest; I still (always) need to work on my photography skills and I'd like to start gathering/making a bunch of scale props so I can do more fun photo setups in the future, but..  it's a start, I suppose.

Because each horse was specifically chosen, I thought I'd do a quick introduction of them.  Several of them already appeared in a post about some of my old custom horses, but in the interest of making this Thanksgiving-related, I wanted to mention their more recent photo show success.

From left to right:

Hawke Nevarre - Friesian stallion, my very first drastic custom Stablemate.  He was an unbeaten live show horse in the few years after his creation. Fun fact: he was haired during lunch break at his first show, rushed to the judging table in the nick of time... and won the class.  So it began.  He's not really competitive anymore, but is still qualified for the MEPSA Championship in Liberty class.  For a while now I've had the idea to make a Hawke 2.0...

Days In Avalon - Thoroughbred mare, an early repaint, she is currently NAN-qualified from my last couple of live shows and she is qualified for the next MEPSA Championship in the Thoroughbred class too.

(front) Wild Honey - Rocky Mountain Horse mare, another early repaint, fixed up since then.  She had her own post about her MEPSA wins.

(back) Not Today - American Saddlebred mare, slightly more recent, but still approaching 10 years old now.  She has qualified or the Championship in the Black color class at every MEPSA Mini Specialty so far.  I guess she's my best black horse; I've painted a lot of them over the years, because I love the color on real horses.

Backflip - Shetland Pony stallion... What can I say about him..?  He has never been one of my favorites, I wasn't happy with how he turned out, even back then (he's about 15 years old) and..  I don't know.  I had tried to sell him, no one wanted him.  He's been the "ugly duckling" of my herd for quite some time.  Then I entered him in my last live show before our move, just because, and..  he won the custom pony class.  When I expressed my surprise (shock) at the blue ribbon and NAN card, the judge exclaimed that he was a "great Shetland Pony stallion!"...  This year, he's qualified for the Championship at every MEPSA Mini Specialty he's been to, in either Pony Type Stallion or British Ponies...  What do I know?

Maskav - Akhal Teke stallion, another old classic favorite of mine.  He was made around the same time as Hawke Nevarre, but much less work.  I think he'd held his own in live showing back in the day, not so much these days.  However, he's qualified for MEPSA in Other Pure Light Breed and placed 4th of 40 in Simple CM Workmanship and that made me really happy.

Nightbird - Andalusian stallion, he was painted around the same time as Not Today, about 10 years ago.  He doesn't have near the show success of the others, but he did get one MEPSA qualification in the Black color class.  He's in this group, because... well...  I think he's pretty.

 The other star of the picture is my beloved little variegated Chinese Elm.

She (I have a friend who refers to plants, trees in particular, with a gender and just now I thought: why not) was my very first Bonsai.  She's changed quite a bit in the time we've been together, from a scraggly, overgrown, bushy little thing, to an "acacia" look, losing all her leaves mid-summer (surviving my mistakes), growing them back with lots of variegation, to the current rounded 'do.  Last year, I regretted not taking the time to take a picture of the fall colors - and actually I think they may be past their prime here.  I was watching closely for the change this year and even asked my class instructor if everything was okay.  The trees outside had long since changed and started dropping leaves, but my little Elm was still green (and white).  He assured me that everything was fine.  Overnight, it seemed, all the leaves turned yellow, prompting me again to be concerned, but she seems to be okay and is just marching along with the changing seasons.  I'm thankful that she is a survivor!

To wrap things up, and get back on track...

I'm thankful I can have a little herd of horses that I love, even kooky little Backflip, and that are doing well in my return to photo showing.  I'm also very thankful that my little Elm tree has, thus far, survived my bumbling attempts to have, and care for, Bonsai trees.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Quick Post - Saddle Stand Sales

Today I fired up the laser and cut out pieces to make several more saddle stands, two of each color to be exact.

In my Etsy shop, I already have two of each of these listed for sale.  The first run of colorful stands ended up with some minor cosmetic flaws, so I listed them as "seconds", with a discounted price.  They are still functional and still pretty, but I wasn't entirely happy with them.  This new batch should be the "nice" ones, the laser and I came to an agreement on how best to cut them out.  Included in these are the original walnut and zelkova stain - in the smooth style, versus finger-joined.  I'm hoping to get them all put together over the long weekend and possibly have them stocked in the shop sometime next week.

Also, I now have several new saddle pads listed, including the latest round in the Stitched in Japan series - which will be getting their own blog post soon.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tsunami Tuesday

I certainly hope this won't be a regular feature on the blog!  However, I couldn't pass up the chance to use some alliteration...  This took place early Tuesday morning, Japan time.


Jeff is usually up and out the door for work before 6am.  I am generally NOT an early morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed type at that hour (unless horses are involved...).  So I often start my day by lying in bed for a bit after he leaves, surfing around on my phone, and waiting for all of my systems to come back online.

This morning, I thought I felt the bed shaking.  I couldn't be sure, thought it could have been our dog, Max, scratching or otherwise moving around and bumping into the bed.  As the shaking went on and got a bit more insistent, I knew it was an earthquake.  I figured there was probably no better place to ride one out than lying in bed, so I stayed put.  Though the shaker seemed to last for a little bit, I wasn't concerned at all and kept reading blog posts.

Right after the quake, this popped up on my phone.

At the same exact moment, emergency sirens in town started going off.  THAT'S a first.  Uh-oh.

The spoken message playing with the sirens was in Japanese, same as the phone alert.  I'm learning more and more of the language, but was nowhere near able to understand what was going on.

Thanks to the Google Translate app, here's what the phone alert said:

The "evacuate immediately" was concerning, but I took it to mean coastal areas.  We are about 3 miles in from the coast and high enough that we should be just fine with a rise of 1 meter.  And we were.

Once again, like recent quakes that have made International news, and even the "big one" 5 years ago, all the action happened to the south of us, about 200 miles away in this case.

Though I felt certain we would be fine, I was worried about the people to the south.  This earthquake happened off the same part of the coast where the horrible earthquake and tsunami happened in 2011 and the people are still struggling to recover in many areas there.

Someone on one of the local Facebook groups posted a link to watch live Japanese news broadcast, being translated to English as it happened, and I had that running for a little while this morning.  So far it sounds like only a few minor injuries have been reported.  I hope it stays that way.  As a bit of a comparison: it sounds like, at it's worst, the earthquake today produced a tsunami of 4 feet, compared to 180 feet in 2011.  That's all I've heard so far.

Quite a way to start a day!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Motivation Monday - Warrior

I've been leading a bit of a double life lately: at times struggling to find much motivation at all, but also: starting to lay down some groundwork on two exciting future plans and events, in particular.  I'm not quite ready to share what these exciting things are...  but hopefully will be able to sooner rather than later.  I'm not trying to be vague, but right now they feel like tiny embers that must be protected and cared for, until they grow into flames.  My blog has been suffering with my "distracted depression" of late, but I'm going to be trying to turn the ship around and end this year (already??) on a high note.

With that in mind, I flipped through my collection of "Motivational" pictures and these spoke to me.

I hope they are a help to you too!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

First Lesson

Today I had my first official Yabusame lesson and it was on horseback.  (yay!)  I hadn't been expecting that.  Last weekend, I had gone out to meet another student and ended up getting a free practice session with her bow - in which I learned about many of the differences between Yabusame and the Plains Indian style horse archery that I was used to.  Today I thought we would be doing more shooting the bow on the ground, like we did last weekend.  However, I'd brought my helmet, just in case.

The entire hour was spent on Mulan, the sweet horse I rode my very first time out there.

The majority of that time was spent trying to learn the way to ride a horse for Yabusame.

It is VERY different from anything I've done before.

In fact...  I wasn't actually able to do it properly at all.  My body pretty much said, "You want me to do what?  Um, no thank you."  I think part of the problem is that I am sadly more out shape now than usual; I certainly haven't had to do any horse chores for the last year and a half.   But also, the way of riding for this is just so different.  I had no idea.  Picture riding in a squatting position, hovering over the horse - feet far forward, butt up and out, chest up and back.  It was entirely as awkward as it sounds.  I gave it an honest try though, over and over, until my legs were d.e.a.d.

The "reward", as far as I was concerned, was that at the very end I was able to ride Mulan through two passes down the Yabusame track (a long sandy path that the horses run on during the event).  She has a strong, bouncy trot - which I had been trying to ride while failing to squat in the saddle - and I had no idea what to expect from her faster gaits.  I was nervous too, having not gone over a trot in quite some time  (just over a year ago and then only briefly at the canter).  On top of all of that, my legs were done by that point.

With all of that, could I even stay on?  I did and I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that her canter and gallop are smooth - and fun!  I cantered about the last third of the track the first pass, but then got into a gallop on my last pass and galloped about half to two-thirds of the way that time.  It felt like we were flying toward the end on that run - but the instructor assured me she can go even faster.

It was SO much fun!

The homework I've given myself is to do hundreds of squats.  Everyday.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gone and Done It

I have resisted this for a long time, knowing that I did NOT need to learn another "crafty thing" and certainly didn't have a reason to hoard any more craft supplies...  However, there is a drive going on here to gather scarves for the residents of a local nursing home.  I could buy them (and may still buy some...) but I thought it would be fun and wonderful to make some.  My good friend, Holly, is a crochet whiz, mostly self taught, and she's been offering to teach me for some time now.  I fought against it, but...

As of yesterday, I do (a tiny bit of) crochet.

Behold, the beginnings of my first scarf:

Still a little ways to go.

I'm hoping to be able to make at least a few to donate.  I'm getting the process down, but am still feeling at least half thumbs and I am NOT fast at it - yet.

I talked to Jeff tonight about how I only have a small selection of yarn in my "you never know" craft hoard- er, stock of supplies...  So I think I've only got enough to make a couple of scarves and they might not be all that great - cheap, scratchy yarn and such.  He mentioned, "We can always buy you more yarn."



I will not start hoarding yarn.  I will not start hoarding yarn.  I will not start...

In other news:  Today was our first snow!!!

It's not something I like to talk about, but...  I have been going through some fairly severe depression the last several days, to the point of not wanting to get out of bed...  Seeing the snow falling for most of today was a pick-me-up that I desperately needed.  If you didn't already know - I love snow.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Motivation Monday - Only You Can

Another week is upon us!  I may be in the minority for liking Mondays, and I confess: it wasn't always this way.  Now, though, I choose to look at them as a fresh start, a new chance to run at our dreams.  

Let's go!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Horse Club Visit

I've talked a bit about the "horse club" which ended up being two horse clubs - a general riding/Yabusame club and a seperate club with a focus on English style riding and jumping.

As of late July/early August there is a third club in the area, brand new.  It is the Misawa Horse Park and is closest of all, only about 10 miles away!  They are another general riding/Yabusame club and are being built from the ground up.  Right now they have four horses, or as most might think, based on size: three ponies and one horse.

Back in early August, a Japanese friend arranged for me to visit the park, right after they initially opened.  She served as my translator for setting up the visit and while we were there.  I was offered a ride on one of their horses and most happily accepted.

I rode "Mulan", probably considered a pony by height, but very stocky.  She is a sweetheart.

She is also a Yabusame horse and came to the Misawa club from the other Yabusame club.

I was introduced to all four of the horses at the Misawa club, but could only remember one other name, in addition to Mulan.  That was Judy.  Easy to remember, since Judy is the name of my sweet dressage instructor and friend back in South Dakota.  Judy is the one "horse" at the park.

This past Monday, my Japanese friend made arrangements for us to have another visit.  I haven't been feeling well the past couple of weeks (the past couple of months if I'm being totally honest), but I hoped a visit to the horses would cheer me up, even on a gloomy, rainy day.

When we got there, the horses were all out in the big pen, eating their breakfasts.  I would have been okay to just watch them and take pictures, but the girl working there asked when horse I wanted to see.  I said any of them would be fine.  She went out and came back with:


Our entire visit was Judy munching grass while I petted her and inhaled the wet horse smell.

I also took lots of pictures of her.

She had a really pretty halter on, with what appeared to be tooled leather and painted pink flowers.

Unfortunately I didn't get a good picture of it.

I did get a bunch of pictures of her.

Including some closeups.  Pinto horses are such a wealth of interesting markings.

We didn't stay long; it was a cold, rainy day and I didn't want to interrupt the goings on there (though Judy didn't seem to mind having some grass instead of hay).  We did make arrangements for my next visit - this coming Saturday!  I am supposed to meet with another Japanese woman who is taking Yabusame lessons there and speaks English.  I'm looking forward to maybe making another horse friend here and being around the horses again.