Clipping the World’s Shaggiest Horse

July 18, 2014 by Kara








Several weeks ago, my riding teacher took a look at the shaggy state of the horse I ride and said: “You are going to need to buy some clippers.”  My horse (I “lease” him, so while I don’t own him, I’m his main person) is incredibly furry, and even with my best attempts at major grooming and “shedding support” supplements, dude was not losing the hair.

So, I went out and bought livestock clippers, and one of the girls at the barn agreed to teach me how to clip a horse.

Here is the full, dirty before.  If you are a non-horse person, the thing on his head that makes him look like Eeyore is a fly mask, and the whole eye-area is mesh, so yes, he can see out of there.


A little clarification of what we’re dealing with, here.  Mind you, this was mid-June, once the winter coat should have been long gone.


Step one is to scrub-scrub-scrub the horse from head to toe.  Washing a horse is a cross between washing a dog and washing a car.  But with less Windex.


His mane was braided not for beauty purposes, but to train it all to go to one side.

After he was squeaky-clean, I had to wait and wait and wait and wait for all of that shaggy hair to be fully dry, and then the clipping began.


Yep.  It was that drastic.

I clipped and clipped and clipped and clipped and felt like I was making good progress.

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Until I remembered that I still had the other side left to do.



That day, we got his body and face clipped, along with most of his legs.  A week later, I made a bit more progress on his legs, and then about a week after that, I finally made a final effort to finish his legs, and do some touch ups around his head.  It took FOREVER, but was totally worth it.  Not only is he so, so much easier to groom and keep clean, he’s not sweating himself silly under all of that shag.  He probably would have died of heatstroke had the fur not come off.

Already, his fur is getting longer, and I’m living in fear of having to go through the clipping process again.  Hopefully, if I stay on top of it it won’t be quite the project it was the first time.


Terrible Book Reviews

July 17, 2014 by Kara

None of the books I have were catching my eye, so I took a trip to the thrift store recently pick up some new ones.

I also ended up with a great T-shirt and skirt, which was exciting, because usually I’m far too lazy to dig through clothes at a thrift store.  But back to the books.  Here are two that I’ve read so far:



Up at Butternut Lake, by Mary McNear

I just looked it up on Amazon and discovered two things:  one, the Kindle version is $1.99 (buy it), and two, it is apparently part of a trilogy.  Oooh!

Long story short:  Widow with young son moves to her family’s old cabin on the lake and a complicated romance ensues.

I liked this book.  It was nicely written, a quick read, didn’t have unlikely plot dramas or too many characters to follow.  An excellent summer pool/beach read, but not so cheesy and dumb you have to roll your eyes all the time.  Thumbs up.


Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

This book is meh.  Chapters alternate between four characters, and how they all end up coming together via a fertility clinic.  I didn’t read the description before I read it (I have read Jennifer Weiner’s books before, so based on her name I figured it was a good summer read), so here are a few spoilers:  troubled Ivy-League girl donates her eggs, poor mama in the sticks donates her womb, gold-digger marries billionaire and gets a surrogate to carry their baby, and billionaire’s daughter is pissed.  Along the way, they all have their own family drama to work through, and then at the end IT DOESN’T GO AS PLANNED.  It was okay, maybe worth $2 at the thrift store, but probably only worth picking up at the library if you happen to see it.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

One of my friends highly recommended this after we’d both read Gone Girl, so I went into it with overly high expectations. It is good, but I didn’t love it.  Several women’s lives come together in a small town– one who is a perfectionist and finds  a scandalous letter that her husband wrote to her years ago (then hid), another woman who moves back to her mom’s house in the small town after her marriage goes nutters, plus some other ladies who work at the local school.  Unlike Gone Girl, which threw me for a loop at every turn, I found this book kinda predictable.  As I read, I was texting my friend: “Don’t tell me if I’m right, but I think THIS is going to happen!” ….. and I was always right.  It was a good book, though, and I enjoyed it, but it was no Gone Girl.

For record keeping purposes, here are some other books that I’ve read since last posting, though not super recently:

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

I could have SWORN I wrote about this one already, but search feature says otherwise.  I like Marian Keyes, she writes fluffy books set in Ireland, many about a family of sisters.  This one is about the residents of an apartment building, and is occasionally narrated by a mysterious, spirit-ey something, kind of like how The Book Thief is narrated by death.  You don’t find out who the narrator is until the end of this book, though, and I didn’t guess it.  Which is nice.  I always like to be surprised by books.  Anywho, there’s a scrappy taxi-driver lady with a sick mom and Polish immigrant roommates, a fancy executive lady, a free-spirit hippie girl married to a fancy business man, and an old lady with a hot-gardener nephew who comes to town to film a TV show.  As per usual, all of their lives become entwined. The characters were more or less likeable, and the endings weren’t totally predictable.

Going Home by Harriet Evans

Fluff, but enjoyable.  The main character (plus her sister and her cousin who play minor roles) lives in London but travels frequently to her family’s old house where her parents live. She has a mysterious, fancy uncle who lives in New York (in addition to the two aunts who live nearby and are also main characters) who she sees as some kind of magic hero, but ends up being a hot mess of sneaky disappointment when he brings home his gold-digging American surprise-wife.  Things go majorly downhill with the family home at that point, and all along the main girl is boo-hoo-ing about her ended relationship with the neighbor boy.  It ends with a little… OMG, THAT was the truth ALL ALONG!?!?!? And I really can’t remember if they were able to save the family home in the end, but she gets the guy, and that’s all that matters in life, right?



Dog Yard Mini-Makeover

July 16, 2014 by Kara


I have a little side yard off of my kitchen where the dogs spend their days.  The side yard has always been less than beautiful, because it needs to be totally dog-proof to two large dogs highly motivated to destroy things.

For kicks, let’s take a look at how things looked four years ago.

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Yep, I bought a house that looked like this.

Obviously, the “porch” and security door were removed, as was the outdoor-only bathroom (the hole in the wall in the first photo), and when I got Casey, I had a gate put in at the end of the house so that there was an enclosure for her (my yard was not fenced in at the time).

Things started looking better as I gradually hacked down the cactus, and filled the area with mulch.


But you know what crazy dogs love to do with mulch?  Dig and dig and dig and dig and dig.  So over time, I replaced the mulch with pavers and rocks.  It isn’t pretty, but it is dog proof and easy to clean up.  Eventually I even did a liiiitle bit of planting back there but kept those plants surrounded by rocks and bricks and other dog-proofing protections.

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Pretty, right?

Things were going great until I got my house painted, and saw Rusty lift his leg on the beautiful blue wall.  OH, NO, BROTHER!  There will be none of that!  And I started brainstorming ways to keep him away from the wall.  I decided that if I put a couple of potted plants along the wall, it would keep him away from my lovely paint.

Then, after a work-day at the barn, I was inspired to try a few more planters, and generally spruce up the dog yard.



Not beautiful, but better, and definitely practical.


I tossed some big rocks and the bottles that were dug up during garage demolition to hopefully discourage any digging in these pots.


I also dug out some of the dirt in front of the doghouse and filled it in with these giant rocks (left over from driveway demolition) to improve the drainage situation.  This area needs to be hosed off on the regular, and drainage was not good.  The rocks are a big improvement!


The pot next to Casey is visible from my kitchen window, and makes such a nicer view than the raggedy fence and concrete I looked at before while washing dishes!


Sometimes the dogs go in the doghouse, but the preferred spot is definitely the roof.  They even have a fancy dog bed up there.


This little area still isn’t the prettiest, but the plants are an improvement.  There is a jasmine in the grey pot that will hopefully grow all over the gate (the pot is on the stationary side of the gate, so it should be able to open and close without disturbing the plant).  I thought about getting some sort of hose caddy, but it would block the gate and truthfully, I probably wouldn’t use it anyways.

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I’m not 100% convinced that the potted plants will survive the dogs, but so far they’re fine, and I figured it was worth a try.  Worst case scenario, one gets destroyed and I move them all out.  But I’m going to cross my fingers that they won’t be interesting to the dogs.

Now a before and after!

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Now, cross your fingers that the dogs are uninterested in potted plants…….




Week Twenty-One

July 12, 2014 by Kara


I’m pretty sure it is week 21, anyways.  Somewhere around there at least.

Things are really coming along, and it is really just down to the final details at this point.

First, I got a new driveway plus a little back patio.

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There was some drama with my next door neighbor over the driveway.  My beautiful new driveway extends all the way to my property line (as it should), but because it was made up of three separate junk piles before, now it looks huge.  Here is the before:

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In the first photo, you can see that the left side of the driveway just dropped off, so you couldn’t actually drive down it.  Where the port-a-potty is, that was “homemade cobblestone” which was basically a rock pile with weeds growing in it.  Then, the point of debate is that little grassy strip on the far right in the second picture.  That strip, entirely on my side of the property, was added later at some point to help with the very bad drainage.  Because it was ghetto and broken and not done correctly, water actually just seeped under, making things even worse.  The drama came because my neighbor really wanted that little 6-ish inch strip marked back in, giving them a little more buffer for their driveway space, claiming it was public property between the two driveways.  BUT, that is actually all my property.  Which I know for a danged fact because I had to pay an arm and a leg to get the whole stinkin’ thing surveyed in order to mark property lines.  It also comes down to the fact that she feels like the developers on the other side of her built a fence that was a foot into her property, and so she’s sensitive about having her space invaded, but we told her repeatedly that it had been surveyed and that she could check the records if she liked.

What I think it is really about is that my driveway LOOKS huge now, and hers looks teeny-tiny, but mine takes up no more space than it used to, it is just all one piece instead of multiple piles of junk.

Later, my contractor took me to the fence at the start of my backyard where the surveyors had placed a pin. He pointed at the pin marking my property line, and then pointed to the fence between our yards, which is CLEARLY at least four inches into my side.

“I”m just saying….” he said.


The most exciting thing about my driveway is that I can just drive right out of it without having to crank my car to a 45 degree angle to safely navigate the too-step drop off into the street.  The new driveway is a NORMAL driveway that you can drive into and out of without destroying the underside of your car!  It is amazing.  I feel so fancy.

Upstairs, we now have finished floors (fake wood that looks pretty amazing and “rustic” with texture and great color), baseboards, interior doors and closet doors, and kitchen cabinets.


Custom cabinets, ready to go in.



The kitchen!


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Progress on floors and baseboards.


Lovely floors, looking from the living room towards the kitchen and back of apartment.

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Hallway closet doors and a peek at the bathroom vanity (custom built to match the kitchen!)

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And the tiny bedroom.  I was trying to get a shot of the closet plus the interior door, and couldn’t do it without fitting myself in, so here is me post horseback-riding.  In my new breeches, which are the Piper breeches from SmartPak, and I highly recommend them if you are in the market for breeches.

So there we are!  Appliances and garage doors are expected to arrive on Monday, and I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, but chances are pretty good I’ll have a working, non-Amish washing machine on Monday.  I might cry from excitement.  Other than that, I think it is just down to finishing things…. sinks, doorknobs, counter tops, light fixtures, switches, outlets and such.

Getting close!

Sonoma County Trails Challenge: Crane Creek

July 11, 2014 by Kara


On Wednesday, I added a second trail to my Trails Challenge list, Crane Creek in Rohnert Park.  I have a friend that lives out that way, and I drove past Crane Creek on the way to her house a while back and was intrigued.  It is a small park, hilly and grassy, and I imagine when there isn’t a crazy drought, there is actually a creek.


But no creek now!

Inexplicably, the park also has a Frisbee Golf Course.  Is this really a thing?


There are a few trails, and with some wandering and out-and-backs I managed to scrape together two miles.  The trails are mostly narrow and grassy (FORESHADOWING), with views of hills and vineyards.

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Rusty appreciated the view.

We went 2.24 miles in just under an hour.  It isn’t a park I’ll return to, mostly because it is pretty out of the way for me, and the lack of trails doesn’t quite make up for the drive.  I had already decided that this park was a fail while I was out there, but the deal was sealed 100% later that night…..


Both of the dogs are on anti-tick medication, so I think ticks jumped on them from the tall grasses, came home with us, decided the dogs were gross, and hopped off looking for something better.  Like me.  After I found the tick on my leg (and panicked more than I would like to admit), I found two more ticks ON THE FLOOR and this morning I found one more sitting on (but not attached to) Rusty.  DISGUSTING.

Because I am insane, I circled the spot where the tick was on my leg with a sharpie so that I can monitor it and make sure I don’t come down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (according to google, this kind of tick doesn’t carry Lyme, gracias a dios).

So, Crane Creek.  Not a summer hike unless you are covered head to toe with a gallon of DEET.

Two down, three to go!



Sonoma County Trails Challenge: Hood Mountain

July 10, 2014 by Kara


Last week, my good friend Westerman was in town, and we had many fabulous adventures, the first of which was a hike up Hood Mountain in Santa Rosa.  Westerman was looking for a good hike, and I had been meaning to get started on the Sonoma County Trails Challenge, so Hood Mountain fit the bill.  For the Trails Challenge, you just have to hike five trails in the Sonoma County Parks System.  They have suggested trails, several of which I’ve walked before, so my goal is to test out five new trails.  If you document your hikes and submit them, you get a water bottle.  WOO HOO!


Hood Mountain is listed as a “strenuous” hike, but this is from the same website that explained: “Is hiking the same thing as walking?  Yes, a hike is just a walk that takes place in a natural setting…” so I wasn’t too worried.  We set out with several liters of water, plums, some snacks, a Gatorade, lots of sunscreen, and a semi-charged Garmin that last saw activity when I ran a half-marathon a year ago, and a PDF of the trail map on my phone.

Hood Mountain is out near Kenwood behind the St. Francis winery, and it is pretty awesome.  It is also a pretty steep hike, so the part about “strenuous” was no lie.


It doesn’t look as steep as it felt, but there was a looooot of uphill.  It took around two hours to get to the top, and once we reached the official peak, we went a little farther to where you had an amazing view of the whole area:

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We hiked a loop, so we went down a different way than we came up, and the scenery was just as lovely.  Luckily, we hiked up mostly in the shade.  Our downhill route was much sunnier, and that would have been pretty awful during the climb.

It took us 3 hours and 45 minutes to go 7.1 miles, including breaks for water, snacks, sunscreen, complaining (me), and enjoying the view.  According to the website and my Garmin, there was a 2,000 foot elevation gain, so it is a legit hike. The trails were mostly well-marked, but I was glad I had the PDF of the map so that we were able to zoom in for detailed views of trail intersections.  It looks like there are some shorter loops you can do which I might revisit with the dogs, as the park is really beautiful, but not something I’d hike alone.

So let the Trail Challenge of 2014 begin!  One down, four to go!

Week… I’m Not Sure

June 23, 2014 by Kara


I’ve obviously fallen woefully behind on weekly construction updates.  For a while, there was a lot of non-visually-dramatic work happening…. electrical, plumbing, drywall.  And then once I was behind, I felt like I needed to catch up and that seemed like a big effort.  So, we’re skipping ahead to where things are now, and maybe I’ll back-fill the progress shots, maybe I won’t.  I’m just documenting for myself, anyways!

Hands down, the most exciting thing is that exterior paint happened (along with new, beautiful seamless rain gutters).

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I do not think I could possibly love those colors more.  I’m sure I’ll get tired of them in due time, but it is paint and easy to change, and right now I LOVE IT!!!!! (As do the dogs, which you can tell by their thrilled expressions.)

The upstairs interior is just waiting for finishing touches!

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Standing in the kitchen, looking towards the living room.


Living room looking into kitchen and down the hall.





Bedroom closet.



Back in the hall, looking towards the bedroom– on the left (behind the heater) is a closet, and behind that will be the washer dryer.


So here we are, in week whatever!  I’ll be getting a new driveway soon (HURRAH!), along with garage doors and kitchen cabinets, and then we’re pretty much in the home stretch!!!


Week Fourteen

May 21, 2014 by Kara



In thrilling news— I had to go pick out appliances for the apartment (which was kind of like torture because they were so expensive and I won’t even get to use them), but I also got to pick out MY NEW WASHER AND DRYER!!!!

It was love at first sight.


Now I just need a garage floor, electrical and water hookups, and then these babies are ALL MINE!!

Week Thirteen

May 20, 2014 by Kara

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Week Twelve

May 19, 2014 by Kara

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