Monday, December 31, 2018

Cath Kids London - The Cutest Horse and Pony Stuff Ever

I discovered this brand almost by accident but this is seriously cute stuff, now greatly reduced. Sizes are limited.  You see the site here.




Sunday, December 30, 2018

Winter Clothes Shopping 2018

I've tried to be very picky with regard to what I buy these days as clothes have gotten more expensive and the quality has decreased.

Here's a sampling of my late (fall and winter) 2018 purchases, most made on sale.  I tend to shop at a few places where clothes don't run too large and most of my shopping is done online due to my rural location.

I bought this turtleneck in blue when it was on sale and love it!  It's cashmere but not of the quality of the old J Crew.  It's worth buying at 40 percent off but not at full price.

I also bought this one in green and in pink when both were heavily discounted.  Cashmere with small flecks which makes it more interesting.  I like my turtlenecks to be tight around the neck and this one does not disappoint.  The green has been sold out for a while.

These Smartwool socks are ultra thick and I wear them around the house.  They come in three colors and are divine!

These tartan wool pants had been on my radar for a long time and I finally nabbed them on sale in the right size.  The selection is picked over but if they pop back, I'd recommend them as finding wool pants lined, that fit, that's hard to do these days.

I bought these a few months ago in black velvet.  I ordered the gold ones but sent them back as they were too gold. But the black ones I have worn a lot.  They are comfortable and versatile.  Hoping that J Crew makes these in spring colors too!

I bought these silk pants for next to nothing and love the print.  They are pull on and go well with the blue sweater.  I have not work them yet but will soon, maybe this evening. Worth a shot for $30 or so.  I will wear with gray Belgian Loafers. 

I also bought two Liberty blouses. I've worn these through the years and have always been a fan so I pick these up for long-term wear.  They are marked down considerably right now - so nab a few if you need them.  The other one has sold out.



I bought this black dress to take to France and it's a wardrobe staple.  The fabric is thick and it can be worn most of the year.

This poncho caught my eye when Christmas shopping and I love it!  It's very warm too and it's on sale. It comes in three colors.


This is one of those rare years when I have not added a coat to my bulging collection.  I bought a coat at J Crew but sent it back.  There's one at Brooks Brothers and one at Tory Burch that I am stalking but only if the price is right.

Ariat always lands under my Christmas tree as I wear this stuff every day.  Here are some of the ones that I added to my collection this year.

This sweater is great for riding or wearing around town over a white collared blouse. I wear it with an older hunt scene vest.

I love this shirt for winter and have worn it a few times since Christmas.  It comes in two colors.

This half-zip added to my collection for riding.  I will wear it with the puffer vest below.


This puffer vest is a great weight - heavy enough to wear alone but not so heavy that you can layer it.  Love the color too!


We don't get too dressed up these days in the country but I like to think that my wardrobe remains "classic" even in today's fast-fashion world.  Buy good quality basics that will last more than one season.  Hope your closet was full in 2018!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Remembering Bill Nack - Prolific Sports Writer Who Loved Racing

The history of horse racing is one of my many loves and no one covered it better than the late William Nack who died in April 2018. Many may know the name as he wrote what is considered to be the best biography of the great Secretariat.


He loved his craft, following horse racing from an early age, from his home base in Chicago.  His uncle was a well-known photographer and took him to the Kentucky Derby in 1958 where he witnessed Tim Tam edging out long-shot Lincoln Road.  But what he adored more than witnessing his first Derby in person was his meeting with Hall of Fame and legend Ben Jones who was the force behind Calumet Farm before handing the reins over to his son Jimmy.  Jimmy Jones was Tim Tam's trainer that day.  Tim Tam would go on to win the Preakness but suffered a career-ending injury in the Belmont (where he finished second). 

When he met Ben Jones that weekend, he was riding Gen Duke, the Derby favorite a year earlier.  This was back in the day when stallions didn't go to to stud after six races.  Sigh.   He asked the famed trainer who his best horse was fully expecting him to reel off one of his two Triple Crown winners - Citation?  "Armed"  he replied.  "He could do anything."  Nack was stunned but heard it from the great man's mouth.  Armed was a Calumet gelding who ran in the 40's.



 His experience in Louisville that May lead him to follow his passion for writing and he graduated from Journalism school to take a job at Newsday where he found himself writing not of horse racing but of politics.  But like fate overtaking a mediocre horse to win a great horse race, Nack's passion eventually became fact, and Newsday named him to be their first writer to cover horse racing. (He was able to recite every Kentucky Derby winner from memory at a Christmas party and the editor was impressed - so the story goes).  

Lucky for us that Bill Nack captured the love, the passion and the excitement of horse racing and we have his work to remember these moments. There's something that the written word, from a passionate soul like Nack can convey - watching those videos on YouTube - well, I'll always prefer to read Nack.




Monday, December 24, 2018

Our Own Personal Christmas Traditions

As you get older you try to establish your own Christmas traditions. With little family in our immediate area we've tried to create our own personal memories......

1) Christmas Movies
We have a slew of Christmas movies and we work our way through them each December beginning after Thanksgiving. Vintage is best and we typically watch:

Miracle on 34th Street
White Christmas
Holiday Inn
Christmas in Connecticut
Christmas Vacation
Some version of Scrooge

Have I missed any good ones?

White Christmas is my favorite.  



2) The Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog
While this isn't really a tradition, I look forward to Drew's commentary for some of the best laughs around the holidays.  Unfortunately this year Drew was in an accident and is recovering so we'll have to enjoy the 2017 version for now. And get well soon Drew!


The Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog

3) Peppermint Bran Mashes for the Horses
My faithful steeds get this every Christmas Eve!  I mix up beet pulp and add crushed peppermints and warm water for a treat they only get at Christmas.  You can also buy it.



4)  Needlepoint Ornaments
I have a garland that is reserved only for needlepoint ornaments. My collection is not large enough for an entire tree, so this will have to do for now.


5) Christmas Eve Dinner
We have a fancy dinner at either the cabin or the house, by the fire.  No where else will do.

Wishing you and your loved ones (four-legged too) a wonderful Christmas Eve!  Be safe, have fun, stay true to yourself and create some memories..........





Horse Books - Vintage is Best

As a book lover and an aficianado of old things old, finding old horse books has become a hobby. And unlike some antiques, books tend to be inexpensive.  If you'd like to grow your own collection Etsy is a great source.  I tend to collect books on horse racing and history but here are some fun finds.  Cozy up to a fireplace and read a few over the holidays.

This one is a classic!











I have this one in my collection, a classic for sure!


Any of the old C.W. Anderson books are highly collectable.

(High Courage)

Another one by C.W. Anderson.






Finding old books and actually reading them is a great winter pastime!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The National Sporting Life Library

The National Sporting Life Library is a jewel that sits right on the edge of the village of Middleburg, Virginia (west of Washington, DC).  We also like to call Middleburg mecca.  The Library houses books and art and hosts exhibitions throughout the year. 

The Library has wonderful facilities and it's lovely just to drop in and see it. Even if you don't live in the area you can follow their exhibitions and collections from afar.  In this day and age when people don't read it's good to see that someone is supporting this lost art.   They have a nice Facebook page.



Their current exhibition, Sidesaddle 1690-1935 can be seen until March 2019.  You can read about it here.



The Library houses rare and old books and you can use their resources for research.  They cover not just riding sports but also other sports like fishing and hunting.  You can join the library and help support their mission and receive invitations to special events.  They host an annual book sale where they sell duplicates of donated books - a great source to add to your own collection.


The current library was founded as the National Sporting Library in 1954, by George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. and Alexander Mackay-Smith, the institution has expanded to become a library, research facility and art museum with over 26,000 books and works of art in the collections. The John H. Daniels Fellowship program supports research and includes scholars from around the world. Information is shared through exhibits, lectures, seminars, publications and special events. Many of the programs are free and open to the public.


Original exhibitions are created in the Library exploring both the depth and the range of the 24,000 volume book collection. Literature, art and ephemera are combined to illustrate themes of interest to scholars and the general public.

Over the years, the Library has been the recipient of several significant book collections including:
  • The Huth-Lonsdale-Arundel Collection
  • The Baron Ludwig von Hundersdorf Collection
  • The John H. and Martha Daniels Collection
  • The Margaret C. Woolums Collection
  • The Captain V. S. Littauer Collection
  • The F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room houses 16th-century volumes on classical equitation, the first edition (1653) of Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler (with 90 subsequent editions), early American shooting and fishing books, and rare volumes of sporting art. The oldest book in the collection was published in 1523
  • The Chapman Family Fly-Fishing Collection.
The Library is strong in fiction, with works by Will James, R.S. Surtees, Irish writers Edith Somerville, Martin Ross and others. In addition, it houses private collections such as the papers of Harry Worcester Smith, sportsman, author, and Masters of Foxhounds Association founder. There are collections of early American sporting periodicals, including The Spirit of the Times and The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine.

You can become a member of the Library (well worth the membership for their newsletter) and support this wonderful resource.  Learn more here.

The Best Memories From 2018

2018 has been a good year.  Lots of new activities, adventures, travel, and just enjoying life on the farm. Here are some of my favorites things from 2018.  Sometimes it's the simple things that make life so good.....

1) Monomoy Girl
I loved watching this adorable chestnut mare with loads of talent beat almost every horse she encountered in 2018.  She has won everything there is to win for a filly at three and I can't wait to see if she improves as a four-year-old.  We watched her win her first G1 race at Keeneland in April.  She then went on to win the Kentucky Oaks (the Derby for fillies) and the Breeders' Cup Distaff.  She was second only once this year (due to disqualification) so it's safe to say she was unbeatable.  Will she run with the colts in 2019?  I can't wait to see her run again.  You go girl!


2) Madison Girl
My own little mare exceeded all expectations this year. Our first full year showing, and at three feet, we ventured out into the big leagues this season a few times and she did not disappoint.  She was in the ribbons at every show, including the AAs (here in Virginia, this is the toughest division at the horse show) and she even won a class.  Cannot wait to start her off again in January after a few months off due to a small injury - we have our first show in four weeks and there is a lot of rust.  She's my own Monomoy Girl.   


3) France
We traveled to France in November and our trip exceeded every expectation.  Paris was, well, Paris - what more can you say?  But it was the smaller medieval towns that I loved seeing and then there is Normandy!  We have already booked another trip for 2019.  The travel bug has come back after a long hiatus.  This is Malmaison, home of Josephine Bonaparte, just outside Paris. What's not to love about France?


4) The New Arrival
I have not said much about Apollo but we have new arrival coming in early 2019.  He is a small colt and he is so darn adorable.



5) Stitch Until You Drop
I made a lot of progress stitching and sent four items to the finisher in the past few weeks.  My goal is to add to my garland of needlepoint ornaments for 2019 (and find a better garland). I stitched three rabbits for Easter, one ornament (so far) and this is my next project.  This is much larger than it looks but isn't it cute?



6) Cabin Fever
We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time at the cabin.  What a gift to have this small abode after working from home all day - it's only a few miles from the farm and it's like having a secret getaway.  We're planning a small party there after Christmas. 



7) Spring at Keeneland
We only made one trip to Keeneland this year (and the weather did not cooperate in any way for a change) but it was still a highlight.  We saw the stallions and the colts at Darley (a real treat) and had our usual fun.  We are booking the trip for spring this year and we'll see Chromie this time (California Chrome) so that will be fun. But we have fond memories from April 2018. That's Medaglia D'Oro, one of the more famous stallions at Darley.  He had an abcess.  Million dollar stallions also get them - good to know!



8) Farm Life
It's not for everyone and having horses at home is a lot of work - early mornings, late evenings in winter, mowing ad nauseum in spring, taking care of fence lines, frozen water pipes, and too much rain in 2018 but I wouldn't change a thing! And I never need to go to the gym!


Here's hoping that you too can look back on 2018 with fond memories.  Make more of them every day!  Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Shrinking American Brand

Another iconic American company bites the dust.  This time it's Woolrich. We wore tartan skirts back in the days made with Woolrich wool.  While the company will still exist, it's American factory is closing so that "Made in the USA" label is done. If you still want one of their great wool blankets, made in that Pennsylvania factory, you'd better hurry.  That place is shutting down for good.  It was founded in 1830.  You can buy one of the real American ones here.



But in a way, we're all guilty of the demise of the American-made product.  We want cheap.  We want fast.  We want instant gratification.  We don't want to pay $100 for a wool blanket when we can buy a polar fleece one for $19.99 at Wal-Mart.  Maybe we need to rethink our priorities.  Maybe less is more.  Maybe quality is better than quantity. 

The papers will tell you that the founders did not reinvest their profits back into the company and if they had it may have survived. Look at Pendleton.  It's still here.  Yes, it is, but for how long?  Maybe we should all strive to buy American.  Are you willing to pay $100 or more for a pair of American-made Levi's or are you going to Kohl's to buy the $30 Made in Vietnam version.  Will the American ones last three times as long as the cheap ones? 


These are not easy questions to answer but our priorities in this country are terribly wrong. 
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