Sunday, December 31, 2017

Out With the Old and In With the New - Not So Fast

We're about to ring in a new year, so let's "throw out the old and bring in the new," as so many like to say this time of year......well, I say, not so fast.  I'm going to buck the system a bit and relish the old and forget about the new.

One of my goals for the new year is to "Relish the Old."  There are many ways to look at this.....

Appreciate Vintage
I love antiques, older stuff, most of the time, it's much better quality than anything produced today.  There's something to be said for a house that looks (and is) lived in.   My own home is full of antiques, carefully curated over many years, with a story behind each purchase.  The "fast fashion" world we now live in has filtered down into most everything we buy - furniture, fabrics, rugs, china, lamps.  If it lasts two years then you are doing well.  I don't accept that.  Buy quality, even if it means buying less.  Shop the antique stores, eBay, 1st Dibbs, Chairish, garage sales, Goodwill, Poshmark.  The options are vast if you search. There's great stuff out there often for a fraction of even the "fast fashion" price.

One of my prized possessions is my collection of Cambridge Glass' Imperial Hunt Scene glassware, made only during a short period in the 1920's.  This glass is highly collectable (read hard to find) and I have put together a small collection over the years.  When I have a glass of wine in one of these glasses, I just wonder where it has many hunt balls?  How many dinner parties?  Where?  Used by whom?

As you get older you seem to stay away from trendy fashion. (By the way, those horrible huge bell sleeved shirts and dresses, they'll be filling the Goodwill by year's end I predict).  Look at these classic silhouettes, these styles don't come and go, they stay.  Find your style, stick with it, don't follow the trends too much and buy good quality, even if it means buying less.  Polyester?  Just say no!  Buy a few good pieces every season. My Gucci loafers are 17 years old.  My Max Mara camel coat is 20 years old. I still wear my mother's fur coat, it's over 60 years old. 

I plan to add at least two pairs of these to my closest this year. There is nothing less trendy and more comfortable than Belgian Loafers.

Look for the good in the old, and the bad in the new.  That's one of my new resolutions for 2018.  Make this last day of 2017 count!  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Baby It's Cold Outside

Winter has arrived here in the Virginia Hunt Country. Doing barn chores is a real chore in these freezing temperatures.  The horses can't be loving it either.  Over the years I have learned to dress for the cold. As a matter of fact, I was actually hot by the time I finished cleaning the barn before lunch today. So what's my secret?  Tried and true clothing that works in winter.  Hands and feet are the first to go so I recommend wearing Smartwool socks.  They are by far, the very best.  My fox hunting friends told me about the brand years ago and I have been a loyal fan ever since.  I like the regular boot sock, knee-highs, but they make a ski sock too with a padded foot.  They make shorter socks too.  They are made of wool and you throw them in the washing machine and dryer.

They also make glove liners which work well under mittens or just by themselves.

A base layer is also key.  I prefer something on my neck and I like half-zips.  The Smartwool half-zip is very warm.  It's nice looking too so you can wear it alone too.

They also make a crew-neck version.

Keeping your head warm is also a "must" when it's so cold outside.  Smartwool also makes cute hats that are warm and good looking.


There's no reason to be cold and you can enjoy winter if you dress for it.  Looks like we are in for a long, cold season, so get out there and enjoy it!

Best Horse Stories of 2017

Horse Country Chic readers are not all horse owners or even horse riders, but I believe that my readers all love reading about horses.  While many posts through the years have a "horsey theme" many do not. So let's end the year with a story about the real horses out there.  Here are some that made the headlines in 2017:

1) Songbird
I just love this mare and if you don't know who she is, she's something very special.  Many who follow race horses know that this lovely mare sold in November for a staggering $9.5 million. Yes, million.  She's a champion race horse, who lost only two races in her career - nine Grade 1 wins, 13 victories in 15 starts, earning $4.6 million.  She was still winning in 2017 but not by the incredible margins that she once did, and her trainer, jockey and owner, knew something wasn't quite right and they did the right thing.  After being sent to Kentucky for a total physical, the vets found all kinds of things wrong with her and she was sadly retired.  Luckily, she was not allowed to break down but she'll have a lovely caring home for the rest of her days.  She was purchased to be a brood mare and the plan is to breed her to the infamous Arrogate in 2018.  The world will be waiting for this baby to arrive.

 (Blood Horse Photo)

2) HH Azur
HH Azur will likely be remembered for giving McLain Ward his elusive win at the FEI World Cup in 2017, a feat that Sapphire could not pull off.  But this amazing horse has had an incredible career so far and she's not done yet.  She's only 11 years old and "Annie" (her barn name) has lots of gold medals in her future.  She's partially owned by the late Hunter Harrison (who died unexpectedly very recently).  McLain first sat on her when she was only 5 and got the ride on her at 8.  They have lots left to prove.

(Chronicle of the Horse photo)

3) Gun Runner
Early in the year it was all about Arrogate, but after coming in second to Arrogate in Dubai in April, Gun Runner never lost a race, pulling off win after win in stunning fashion including the Breeder's Cup Classic in November.  He'll end his career in January at the Pegasus World Cup, a race he missed last year due to being in quarantine and he'll go to stud at a fee of $70,000.  He has 11 wins in 18 starts, five Grade 1 wins.  He's won almost $9 million and he's likely to be named Horse of the Year in January. 

(Blood Horse photo)

4) Arrogate
Arrogate must be distantly related to my Alfie.  This talented horse became a real head case that even Bob Baffert could not solve.  After winning the Dubai World Cup in staggering fashion - he literally almost fell down coming out of the starting gate, was in last place the entire race and then somehow, out of nowhere, he found a 10th gear and won the race. It was the most amazing race I have ever seen.  I don't think anyone would doubt, that after that race, he was probably the second best horse of all time, behind Secretariat.  Please find it on the Internet and watch it.  He won four races in a row, in breathtaking fashion but after Dubai he never won again.   Arrogate certainly gave us all something to watch early in 2017.  He's going to stud in Kentucky in 2018.  Let's see if he can replicate that brilliance in his offspring. 

(Wikipedia photo)
5) Verdades
While I don't typically follow dressage, it was hard not to know about the stellar pair - Laura Graves and Verdades - who brought all kinds of accolades to a discipline generally dominated by the Europeans.  The pair won the silver medal at the World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha and then traveled to Europe where they won the FEI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at CHIO Rotterdam, peaking at number two in the world in 2017. 

(Dressage Photo)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 - Looking Back

Where does the time go?  I really don't know.  It's difficult to believe that we are at the end of yet another year.  Here's to looking back on some of the best memories of 2017.......

Trips to Keeneland
We made two trips to Keeneland this year and I must say that these were two of the best weekends of the year.  In April, we saw American Pharoah (pinch me please, I still can't believe it).  We saw some of the Derby hopefuls run in the Blue Grass Stakes in April and the Breeders' Cup hopefuls run in October. It's a magical place.  We saw the infamous Tapit at Gainesway in October.  Two memorable trips. Hoping to make many more trips to Keeneland.

(American Pharoah, HCC photo)

(Tapit, HCC photo)

We welcomed Madison to our lives in late April.  She is indeed a diva, a darling mare with a bright future.  She had some ups and downs and she's on a short hiatus resting up for the 2018 season due to the extreme cold temperatures at the moment.  Madda ended the year on a high note, winning over a huge division at our year end horse show.  She's now a permanent member of our farm family with more memories to be made.

Alfie had a typical "Alfie" year at the horse shows, with his bi-polar ways (we could write a book on equine psychoanalysis).  He's starting to get up there in age, so I am going to savour our time together in 2018 as he is starting to slow down (getting old is for sissies, right?).  He has a few years left to show I am hoping.  He's a tough guy but there's a lot to love and I will surely miss his cute looks when he finally retires with Sega.

Trek to Canada
We made our annual trek to the Canadian Rockies and as usual it did not disappoint.  The cold temperatures and lovely mountain views make this a winter wonderland that we hate to miss.  It was hard to leave, but we are coming back!

But the best part of 2017 has been the day-in and day-out living on the farm. I would not trade it for anything else. It's great to love where you live and relish the joy and beauty of every day life. For that I am very lucky.  Love your life.  Enjoy every day!  Have a wonder December day, one of the last in 2017.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Talbots' Super Sale

If Santa brought you cash, then you are in luck as Talbots has greatly reduced their winter selections.  Need something to wear for a New Year's Eve party? You are in luck!  Here are some of my favorites.... You can access the site here.

This black top will be perfect for any winter party with black pants, velvet, velveteen, or silk.  Love it!

 Red is a color anyone can wear.  Pair this red lace top with a black pants.  Save it for next Christmas.

 I love this black skirt. Pair it with a simple white blouse and heels.

 I like this top, without tucking it in.  I'd wear this with black pants or jeans for a more casual look.

This top is really cute in real life........

And if you are staying home for the holiday you might prefer this really cute vest. Screams Barbour to me!


Happy bargain hunting!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Have a wonderful holiday!
Hope Santa was good!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Traditions

It's Christmas Eve here in Virginia and the weather is starting to chill (finally) and we even see a few flakes this evening.  I've always loved Christmas, the excitement and anticipation and most of all the traditions.......

When I was a little girl, my father would take us downtown to an old store (it was called W.G. White's back then) and we'd buy ribbon candy, hard Christmas candy, out of old barrels. They still sell it by the way, and the country hams are out of this world.  This is a more recent photo of the place.  It hasn't changed much.

We'd go downtown to watch the Christmas parade march down Fourth Street.  I remember the decorations on the light posts. 

 The Reynolds building had a huge wreath on it.  It was always lovely there.
This same building would be decorated with green and red lights for the holidays.


And my mom would take us to the Candle Tea in Old Salem, a tradition that is still going strong.

This radio tower (now long gone) was decorated with lights for the holiday season.

I wonder if families today make time to build holiday traditions - perhaps not in our instant gratification world.  Pull yourself away from your phone, the Internet, Instagram and shopping sites long enough to make traditions that your family will learn to cherish years from now. My dad is no longer here to take me to buy Christmas candy. I'd give anything to be able to do that today with him. Enjoy your special moments, relish the holiday spirit.  Have a wonderful, tradition-building Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Stitch Season

Christmas is upon us, the houses are decorated, the turkey and ham have been bought, the family is coming in and the computers will be turned off.  It's time to stitch!  These darling designs are from The Needlebug and The Plum Stitchery (available through retail stores).  Love these!!!!

Happy Stitching and Happy Holidays!
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