Avoiding Taxes

The ’09 tax deadline isn’t that far off and I really don’t want to get my tax stuff together. Usually I’m on top of it, but this year I’m not feeling the love. Instead I’ve found a variety of activities to help me avoid working on taxes:

  1. Clean living room
  2. Shop for mother-in-law’s birthday gift
  3. Paint porch
  4. Play Candyland…twice.
  5. Go out to dinner with a friend
  6. Take cats to the vet
  7. Schedule oil change and dog’s vet appointment
  8. Make trail mix
  9. Assemble Ikea shelf
  10. Make a horse hair bracelet
  11. Sort and shelve fabric by color
  12. Rearrange medicine cabinet
  13. Make a beach bag (summer is coming, you know!)
  14. Make August vacation plans
  15. Plan a birthday party
  16. Reschedule oil change
  17. Write this blog post.

Okay, I guess I need to finish my taxes now. Unless you have a better suggestion.

Horse Riding Lesson

stargirl-horse.jpg-1

Meeting Tootsie.

Head up. Chin parallel to the ground. Chest open. Hands in a triangle. Knees and thighs pressed in. Heels down. Toes pointed up. Look where you’re going not where you are.

Do all that at the same time…oh, and make that horse go forward.

Huh?

Yesterday we braved the rain for horse riding lessons at Windmill Farm. In an indoor ring, thankfully. This is our first foray into a mother-daughter, quality-time activity that is chasing my daughter’s dream of being an equestrian. She’s 6 so dreams loom large and oh-so-graspable without consequence of time or cost. She was beaming when she got off Tootsie at the end of the lessons. My legs hurt when I got off K.C., but I had a great time.

Despite the amount of time horses have been in my life, I’m really not a very good rider. My teen years spent taking care of horses didn’t actually include riding. So on the ground, I’m an ace at reading ears and eyes and keeping control. Once I’m up on top, well… let’s just say it’s a long way to the ground.

My limited riding included lots of western pleasure rides and a week at Girl Scout horse camp learning to ride English. Two memories stand out from camp: 1) a horse got colic (didn’t know what that was but the instructor with the accent looked very frantic) 2)  my horse jumped 3 feet to the right when another horse he didn’t like got too close. Being scared out of your mind kinda puts a crimp in your pole-bending.

Those first few instructions on form yesterday were more than I ever remember learning before. Maybe it’s because I’m older and can pay attention .

For a few moments I could do all those things and lead K.C. where I wanted him to go. I am an equestrian! And then my mind would wander….

The riding lesson reminded me a lot of my first few yoga classes. It seemed near impossible to control all those physical aspects at once, while maintaining focus on what I needed to do next. I’m sure with time it will become natural.

Right now my daughter and I are committed to 3 lessons. We’ll see if she’s still determined to be a collegiate equestrian after a few weeks. If she is, well, my updates may become pleas for you to support my business so I can afford her horse lessons.

Phase 1: Paint and Carpet

The carpet is in and the walls are painted. Yeah! Here are the results of phase 1 of my studio remodel.

This project began with repainting the peeling ceiling in my husband’s office. Before we knew it, the project blossomed into an entire 3rd floor remodel.

This is the closet wall without carpet. I finally got my orange wall! I nearly painted my daughter’s room orange a few years ago, but my husband had the foresight to see that our pink-&-purple-aholic wasn’t going to outgrown that anytime soon.

I finally got to paint a wall in my house orange. I love it.

My new Ikea Norden table folds down on both sides. I imagine this being very versatile with kids crafting on one end and me on the other end.

Table

This is the sewing corner with walls painted but no carpet.

The  future sewing corner.

And the sewing corner with sewing machine in place. The crates of fabric will have a new home soon.

Finally I can have my sewing machine out ALL the time.

Finally I can have my sewing machine out ALL the time.

Ripping out the stairs carpet was an exercise in frustration. Each surface had a separate piece of carpet held on with about 50 staples. Ripping it out without throwing myself down the stairs was the most strenuous part of this whole project.

The stairs going to my studio were covered in a lovely pinky-red carpet.

The stairs going to my studio were covered in a lovely pinky-red carpet.

The naked stairs.

Every dot is where a stapled needed to be pulled out with a pliers. Fun!

I ran out of momentum after the carpet went in. Where to put all my crafting and business supplies? Luckily help is on the way. Monday I meet with Chris from In Order to help me figure out how to organize my studio.

Under Construction

Construction

Hello!

Yes, I’m still here. Not hiding under a rock or in a cave. Not even still buried under the blizzard from last week.

I have, however, been lost in painting and ripping up carpet. My studio is getting a makeover, as is my husband’s office. So all this noncommunication has been the result of spending every free minute scraping, spackling, painting and putting up new lights.

We’re reaching the home stretch. Paint is on the walls (color, even!), new carpet stretches across the vastness of the 3rd floor and my husband is anchoring bookshelves to the wall in his office this weekend.

Photos of the transformation will follow shortly, so stay tuned!

Barn Party

Sue made a gorgreous double strand, adjustable horse hair bracelet.

Hi ho Silver. Large silver beads set off this adjustable, two strand bracelet.

My first ever Barn Beadin’ Party early this week yielded a lot of laughs and even a few Christmas gifts for equestrians in the Lehigh Valley. I met up with the horse folk from Durham Creek Farm at My Father’s Beads, where I taught them how to turn their horses’ tails into jewelry. We had a blast.

These horse hair tassels are pretty enough to put on a Christmas Tree.

These horse hair tassels are pretty enough to put on a Christmas Tree.

Some took to the bracelet-making and aced the four-strand braid. Others found their groove making tassles with their horses’ tails. I love these classes at My Father’s Beads. Imaginations run wild in the bead store, and everyone comes up with a completely different project utilizing the same basic ingredients.

Trish, a beader and equestrian, whipped up this bracelet in no time.

Trish, a beader and equestrian, whipped up this bracelet in no time.

If your barn in interested in having a barn party at your barn or at a local bead store, contact me and we’ll set something up.

Christmas Is A-comin’

Christmas is a-comin’ and you have just 5 more days to get horse hair to me for custom pieces. December 10 is the last day I will accept horse hair to be transformed into jewelry and delivered in time for Christmas. At this point a $20 rush fee is added to all orders.

In other financial news, I’ll be raising my prices in January. Sad but true. I haven’t raised my prices in quite a long time, but the price of gold and silver have skyrocketed in the last year. To keep up with the times, I need to raise my prices. So get those orders in before the end of the year to take advantage of this year’s prices.

We cut down our Christmas tree today in the wet, blinding snow. It was definitely the snowiest tree-gettin’ we’ve ever had. Makes it all the more festive. As per tradition, we headed over to Pearly Baker’s for some Boulder Style French Onion Soup afterward. Warms you up fast! The Kahlua in my hot chocolate warmed me up even faster!

I hope you all have a joyous holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

Horse Hair Jewely Class

A pair of horse hair earrings made by a participant in last week's Horse Hair Jewelry Class at My Father's Beads.

A pair of horse hair earrings made by a participant in last week's Horse Hair Jewelry Class at My Father's Beads. See what she's been up to since the class at www.whosgotyourgoat.blogspot.com

If you missed the Horse Hair Jewelry Class last Sunday, you have another chance!

Swine flu claimed some of class, so I rescheduled another class for Thursday, November 19 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The class  will be at My Father’s Beads in Coopersburg, PA. You can register online or call the store at 610-282-6939. Time to make start making  gifts for Christmas!

Horse Tail Rope Halter

Braided horse hair tied into a rope halter with fiador knot and lead rope.

Braided horse hair tied into a rope halter with fiador knot and lead rope.

Setting the knots was the tough part.

Setting the knots was the tough part.

So it really wasn’t a mummy.

The white horse was a model for my latest venture into custom pieces I never dreamed of: a replica rope halter made from horse hair.

Really, folks, I’m as impressed with rope halter as I am with the horse head.

But this tale has a sad beginning. The rope halter is made from the tail of a horse named Matador. He died recently of colic. He was a beauty. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I shed a few tears when I got his tail in the mail. A small reminder of my loss of Saint in April (horse…dog, it’s a loss no matter how small or tall the friend).

A fiador is a round knot under the chin, which makes a loop where the trainer can clip on the lead rope.

A fiador is a round knot under the chin, which makes a loop where the trainer can clip on the lead rope.

Learning how to tie a rope halter with fiador was the first task. Not as hard as I suspected. Next, I had to shrink all the measurements to make it a smaller size. Again, not as hard as I suspected.

Then it was making the rope from Matador’s tail: all 7 feet of rope. Matador had an impressively long tail, but I still had to make 16 pulls to weave them all into a 4 strand braid.

Seven feet of braided horse hair.

Seven feet of braided horse hair.

Now came the hard part: tying the rope halter with the horse hair. Horse hair is flexible, but stiff. It will take the shape of anything, but sometimes it has to be forced into that position and held there for quite a while.

All of the knots wanted to come undone when I tied them, so I had to set them by weighting the halter. With the fiador tied, I hung it from a lamp with a horse bit (how appropriate) and a candle in a cup that looks like a cappuccino (thank you Secret Santa ’07) . No rhyme or reason here, just heavy stuff that was available.

A few days of hanging set the fiador knot and I tied the rest of the halter. While that was hanging to set the knots, I moved onto the horse head.

If you look closely, you can see the horse's eye.

If you look closely, you can see the horse's eye.

The rope halter looked like a jumble of knots without something to give it shape, so I conceived making the horse head out of what was, again, handy…newsprint, freezer tape and glue. The muse of the horse head guided my hand through a box of glue to Elmer’s wood glue. It gave the paper a hard exterior almost like paper mache. Elmer’s regular glue made it a bit soggy.

So now the horse head and halter are headed across the country to California. In a few days a man will be opening a box and remembering his faithful companion.