Monday, December 26, 2016

Crack Chicken?

There's a recipe floating around the internet that everyone is calling "Crack Chicken" because its supposedly so darn good you can't stop eating it.  Given that its super simple and even easier with my new Instant Pot (okay, I might be a groupie now), I decided to give it a try.

Ingredients: Water, chicken, cream cheese, ranch dressing mix.  Toss it all in the Instant Pot and cook for something like 15 minutes. I chose to cook the bacon in the oven but I could have cooked it in the IP before or after.

After it's done, you take the chicken out to shred, then put it back in with the bacon and mix it all up.

That's it.  Put it on bread, rolls, crackers, tortillas, whatever I guess.  I had these Hawaiian rolls so that's what I did.

So it looks good and as I said, it's super simple.  But...not crack for me.  I liked it but maybe it was a little too "ranchy" and I'm not a super huge ranch person. I'm not sure but it wasn't something I'd ever crave but it would be something I'd consider making for a pot luck or other event that required a big quantity of food...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter Solstice and Christmas Eve

The last day of fall and first day of winter:  December 21st.  It was fairly warm so I snuck over to the barn to ride and while it had been fairly cloudy, the sky turned pink right at sunset...pretty cool for the shortest day of the year!

Nobody can say our ponies don't have enough hay.  This HUGE round bale was put in their pasture 3 days before this picture was taken and this is all that is left.  OINK!

Ummm, wait!! This isn't my normal view from WAY up here!!  This mane isn't right, the neck is too long and thin and I'm really far off the ground...

Yup, I jumped on Vince for a few minutes today while Madison took a spin on Mata Hari.    He sure doesn't feel like Mata Hari.  He's so much narrower than her - it's like going from riding a giant trike with a big wide seat to riding a racing bike!  And did I mention he is tall?  Madison was yelling from Mata Hari that she felt like she was riding a pony after riding Vince.

And here is the Princess with her Princess Pony breathing hard after some cantering work.

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family!

Friday, December 23, 2016


My sister talked me into buying this thing called an Instant Pot.  It's an electric pressure cooker.  Amazon was having a Black Friday sale on them and I jumped on it.

My mom's stove top pressure cooker used to scare the heck out of me.  I refused to use one for canning and found other methods.  Stories of those things exploding were just too much (although I suspects the stories were much over exaggerated since I've never known anyone who actually knew of one exploding for real). But they made constant noise and hissed and just looked weird.

And then I guess they invented these electric models that are so much safer and "cool".  LOL!  There is this whole huge community of IP fanatics.  Seriously.  IP stands for Instant Pot.  They have lots of acronyms for using this thing.

The fabulousness of the IP is that you can cook things FAST without drying them out and if you can't take it out of the pot right away, it stays hot.  It can also be used as a slow cooker.  This darn thing has so many features that it's quite amazing.  I haven't even begun to learn them all.

One of my first dishes was rice.  Yep, just plain ol' white rice.  It took like 10 minutes and was a perfect sticky rice like you get at the Chinese restaurants.

Next I made soup.  This is a copycat recipe of the Zuppa Tuscana soup from Olive Garden.   It's in a pan on the stove in this picture because I forgot to take a picture in the IP.  It made a HUGE batch so I was reheating it for a second meal on the stove.  It was beyond delicious!  Here's the link to the recipe:  Recipe

I've also made hard boiled eggs, YOGURT (this is super cool and so yummy but pictures of yogurt just aren't that exciting) and caramel from a can of sweetened condensed milk to add to brownies.  And then this.  Loaded Macaroni and Cheese!  Oh my.  This will now be my go to recipe to take to pot lucks.  Here is a link:  Recipe

This makes a BIG pot of Mac & Cheese.  I sent over a pan of it to my neighbor who has two young boys and they loved it.  It's kid approved for sure.  I didn't use any fancy cheeses (I had some leftover Velveeta and used about 8 ounces of it which I normally wouldn't use!).  Next time I'll go a little more gourmet/adult and see how it tastes.  I'll also toss it in the oven to crisp up the edges a little because I like those chewy hard edges around the pan.  The bacon topping gives it crunch but not exactly what I need.

Dang, am I going to need to rename my blog to add cooking and decorating or something?  LOL!  I am far from a great cook but I do love great food.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Horsey Selfies

Taking selfies with your horse is really difficult. Especially when you have short arms like me!  Mata Hari usually cooperates pretty well.  She's a princess after all!

Vince hasn't gotten the memo on how to pose for pictures.  Madison has it memorized.

You can barely see Vince's dark eye in this picture...he was NOT sure about what we were doing!

This was a different day when Madison was cooling off the OTTB after a pretty hard ride.  For those that don't know horses, when they get sweaty in the winter, you can't just sent them back out into the cold, even with a blanket on.  They need to dry off so these fleece robes go on to help wick off the moisture while walking them by hand.  Vince doesn't have a very heavy winter fur coat so it's especially important that we take the time to be sure he's dry before he gets his winter blanket back on and goes outside.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Odd bits

I've been wanting to paint my kitchen cabinets white.  And then I remembered I had painted the door to the medicine cabinet in my bathroom white but ended up leaving it off.  It's really a white-white and a semi glass.  Same paint as the walls.  I wouldn't go quite that white.  And maybe even blue cabinets on the bottom....thoughts???

When my gym membership expired last spring I didn't renew it knowing I'd be moving too far to make it worth going there twice a week for my yoga classes.  Considering how hard I was working on the house and how busy I was, I didn't miss it all that much.  But now that the weather is getting colder and so many of my bigger projects (not counting the one above) are done, I logged on to my Amazon Prime account to see if they had any yoga videos.  They do!  So I have started doing yoga on the living room floor for now but did find another gym membership that allows me to take yoga classes starting in January!  YAY!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

New Car

I drive a lot for work.  Well, both for work and to and from work.  They give me a car stipend for this but they also require I drive an American manufactured car and it can't be more than 3 years old.  Three years ago I bought a red Escape.  This year it was a white one!  Madison will be buying my old one.

This was a total spur of the moment type of purchase since I still had another month before I needed to have a new one on the books for work.  Took the red Escape in for an old change at a dealership (they are the only ones that seem to know how to put the undercover back on correctly) and while waiting I saw this one just sitting there looking lonely.  I knew I wanted white this time...and low and behold, it had ALL the exact features I wanted including (and especially) heated seats and a remote start!  SOLD!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Happy Birthday, Pops!

Ten days ago it was my Dad's 80th birthday.  Eighty.  The big Eight-Oh.  It's so hard to believe this awesome man is 80 because he sure doesn't act it or look like it!

My sister took this picture of him with my mom at her house last summer.  I love it.  And I love my Pops.  (Mom too but this is about Dad!)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The New Boy

I haven't posted too much about our new boy, Vince.  I think it's going on 5 months since Madison bought him off the track.  He got time off to remember how to be a horse and make pasture friends. Then he got some more time off because he had sore feet.  But he's back to work now and making huge progress!!

This picture is snipped from a video that I'll include below.  He's started to get himself in frame now and then and they've started jumping low poles.  He's learning super fast!!

Short Video....

Friday, December 2, 2016


I finally got around to buying a rug for the living room.  I really like it.  Very soft muted white and gray.  Now to get a foot stool/coffee table...

Abby gave approval on the rug.  Doesn't she still have that puppy look even with all the gray?  She's 13 years old as of Halloween but you sure wouldn't know it much of the time.

I also finally got around to buying two more stools to fill up my barn.  I still need to paint them...can't wait for a decent weather day again so I can get at least a couple of them done!  The color is going to be great!

My sister mentioned that her Christmas cactus had tons of buds and started blooming like crazy when she moved it from the sun to the shade in the house.  So I moved mine out of the window to the middle of the house and sure enough, it started popping!

And popping...

And oh my it's so beautiful!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Getting Crafty

I take three vitamins every day - two in the morning and one in the evening.  I hate leaving the bottles out in the bathroom but if I don't, I forget to take them.  I went to Salvation Army looking for some little jars with lids.

I forgot to take before pictures of them but found three for $0.25 each and painted them with some chalk paint I had that happens to match the paint I had used to do the chair in the bathroom.  A couple quick coats and a seal with the pearl wax.

I rubbed the wax in a little extra to distress some spots so they looked more used.

And voila!  Cute little jars to hold my vitamins!

The next project was for my barn door.  I wanted a little wreath for the "window".  This one I cheated.  I found two small "wreaths" to go around large candles that I really liked.  All I did was wire the two together for a little fuller look.

I think the size is perfect and once I figure out how I'm going to paint or stain the door, I think the silvery glitter will pop more.

Last one was a semi-Christmasy wreath for the front door.  This one was made from all dollar store stuff - sum total of $10.  I used white poinsettia bracts for the "Christmas" touch but the colors themselves aren't very Christmasy.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Pretty much stole all these pictures from Thanksgiving since I failed to take any!

My beautiful children!

Austin looking especially happy - must have been the thoughts of turkey in his near future.

My wonderful sister hosted dinner once again and included David's sister and her family.  This is her husband, John, along with Olivia, Madison and Moi.  I brought the wine. And enjoyed it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


These four haven't been in the same place at the same time in about 10 years.

On the left is Gracie who shares a birthday with Madison.  Of course, that's Madison and Austin in the middle, and Dillan is on the far right.  These are paternal cousins who came up to Ft. Myers beach to get together with everyone! So happy they got to do this!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fall in Michigan Part II

We have had the most amazing fall this year.  It started out quite wet and cold but the color show this year has been incredible and much later than usual since the weather at the end of October going into November turned warm and sunny.

The colors across the street have been nothing less than stunning.

Madison was able to take Mata Hari on a trail ride/stroll down the dirt road by the barn where the colors were equally beautiful.  Nothing like riding in the fall leaves...

I found a pretty little trail through some fields across the street from my house.  it was a nice hike on a beautiful day.

The color wasn't quite as strong on this part of the tree line but I enjoyed every last second anyway.

A few days later I took Abby out on "my" trail. This part of it is used by some of the construction tractors - you can see some of them in the upper left corner of the pic.  Our trail veers off tot he right just at the curve and goes back into the woods in the distance.

On our next hike, I got Abby to sit for this beautiful picture.  She's 13 years old now. That's 91 in dog years.  I don't know how much longer she will be with us so taking this was a bit bittersweet.  You can see all the gray on her face...she is deaf now but still gets around pretty good.  No major ailments other than just plain old age stuff...

Next stop on my beautiful fall day tour was to see our Mata Hari.  Not much color in this pic but her fur was so warm and fluffy in the sun...she's beautiful too.

Proof in point to the crazy warm weather this fall - I still have roses blooming on the NORTH side of the house in November!  The Stella D'Oro daylillies popped open a few blooms as well this week.  

And while my kids and friends went to Florida this week to escape the Michigan cold, I sat out on my deck absorbing the November sun in Michigan and relishing in the beautiful of fall in Michigan!

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Apologies to my vegetarian friends!

Last year I ordered a 1/4 side of beef from a friend up north.  The beef isn't certified organic but for all purposes, it is organic grass fed beef.  It was amazing.  So this year I ordered it again.  While getting it here was a bit of an ordeal for Shelley, it was totally worth every penny for me.

I don't have a grill yet but I seasoned these two T-bones and let them rest a while before putting them under the broiler after roasting my cabbage steaks.  Oh my.  Oh my.  Melt in your mouth goodness!