Friday, January 31, 2020

Visiting the Farms in Kentucky Horse Country

Planning a visit to the Lexington, Kentucky "Horse Country" is a must for any horse lover.  I wish I had started this annual trek years ago.  If you have never been plan your trip now and you'll be going back again and again, I promise. The best place to start is this website, Horse Country, which offers many farm bookings for a nominal fee. Hotels are plentiful and relatively inexpensive most of the year (avoid Rolex in late April and a few other key weekends).  The Lexington airport is almost right in the middle of the town, very well located close to Keeneland. Nothing is too far away. 

Many of the horse farms offer tours to the general public as a way to promote the sport, extend good will and to show off their famous stallions. I was amazed how much access you are allowed and the extent to which the farms go to us "little people."  And it is very inexpensive, typically $20 per person for a good two-hour tour. Wear warm comfortable clothes, good walking shoes (no high heels, thick soled boots are best, or even tennis shoes).  Take your camera/phone.

I've been to Darley, Winstar, Coolmore, Gainesway and Taylor Made and a trip to Three Chimneys is planned for the spring.  On my wish list are a second visit to Coolmore (to see Justify), Claiborne (to see War Front and Secretariat's grave) and to Lane's End where there is a treasure trove of great stallions right now.  I'd also like to see Curlin who stands at Hillandale.  I'd also love to visit Calumet just to see the farm.

(Pioneer of the Nile at Winstar)

Each farm is different and I don't have a favorite but I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I saw American Pharoah up close and personal. Coolmore is fabulous, all the barns are stone and I've never walked on so much rubber brick pavers anywhere.  The stallion roster there is hard to beat - we saw American Pharoah, Uncle Mo, Shanghai Bobby, Fusaichi Pegasus and Giants Causeway among others (who recently passed away).  The stallions change over time - some of the stallions I saw at Winstar and Coolmore are no longer there.

 (Frosted at Darley)

 (California Chrome)

 (California Chrome)

(The sign on Giants Causeway's stall door at Coolmore)

At Gainesway we went primarily to see the famous Tapit.  I was surprised how small he is - maybe 16 hands.

Winstar was the first farm we ever visited and they did not disappoint.  Their stallion roster is quite impressive and I was amazed that they allowed us to feed the famous Pioneer of the Nile peppermints (he died recently and is the sire of American Pharoah).  Tiznow laid down in his stall much of the time.

At Taylor Made we were able to see the famous California Chrome up front and personal and I am so glad we did now that he has been sold to Japan. They have tons of babies too and their fields were teaming with tiny colts and fillies when we were there last April.

At Darley we saw their famous stallions - Nyquist, Street Sense, Medalia D'Oro, Animal Kingdom, Frosted (he is absolutely gorgeous) and then they took us over to their foaling barn to see many new foals. It was quite an experience - a two for one if you will - and I would highly recommend this tour.  They also gave us hats at the end with the horses' names - we got Frosted and Animal Kingdom.

The great Medaglia D'Oro had an abcess the day we were at Darley.  I feel so much better now knowing that these horses who have the best care on the planet can also get abcesses!

(Revolutionary at Winstar)

 (Super stallion Tapit at Gainesway)

 (American Pharoah)

 (Tiznow - the only horse to win back-to-back Breeder's Cup Classics)

(The late Distorted Humor - one of the best broodmare sires of all time)

Plan your trip.  I promise you'll love it!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Mario-Like Needlepoint Animal Pillows

The recent Mario Buatta auction has done wonders for needlepoint, but it's not like it really needed a lift. These babies sold for a staggering $17,500.  So if anyone ever complains again about the cost of needlepoint......

The good news is that you don't have to spend five figures for your needlepoint animal pillows. While this one wasn't owned by the famous late decorator, it's remarkably well-priced given the recent price inflation in vintage needlepoint animal pillows....


Or you can stitch your own needlepoint rabbit just like the one Mario owned. No one has to know the provenance.....


Maybe elegant decorating is making a comeback thanks to Mario. 

Beauty Products That Go "Wow"

Every now and then you discover a product that makes you go "wow" - how did I ever not use this stuff?  Here are a few products that fall into this very high level category.  The first I just discovered and used it for the first time yesterday and "wow" - my tired face has never felt this soft. 

Erno Lazlo has been in my life since I was a teenager.  Many of my high school friends were converts and I jumped on the bandwagon way back when.  My affair with Erno has been hot and cold - his products are not cheap and the brand has changed over the years - it's been sold and it's not the same quality it once was but this cleanser is to die for. And I have blogged about this brand before. You can check it this product here.

Here's what Net-a-Porter says about it:

Erno Laszlo's 'Pore Refining' treatment does the job of its signature double cleanse in one step. Perfect to refresh your skin in the morning, this invigorating formula is made with Black Charcoal that works as a magnet to draw impurities to the surface while the brand's Fruit Enzyme Complex smooths texture and clarifies tone. Incorporate it into your everyday regimen to maintain a healthy glow.

- Suitable for all skin types
- Nutrient-rich Kale Protein Blend restores and nourishes 

I don't know what it does but my face this morning feels like it belongs to a baby.  Try it please.......
Another product that falls into the "wow" category is this facial that I use every Sunday evening. The first few times I used it you could feel the "burn" if that makes sense but this one will make your face look fabulous.  Use a small dab on your face and then let it do it's magic for 10 minutes or so, then rinse.  I follow-up with the oil.

Use this oil afterwards (and I am not an oil person but this stuff rocks):

Let me add that I am not getting sponsored by these products.  This is the real deal - these really do work, for me at least, and I love them!  Try them. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Made in the Shade - Refurbish Your Lamps

Yesterday was a girls' day out over the mountain, with my good friend Molly. We visited the regular haunts - Caspari, Ivy Nursery, the needlepoint store and hit some good sales along the way......

One of my favorite spots is the lampshade store where I took a lamp that needed some sort of refresh.  I liked the shade but it was plain and could not decide whether to replace the shade or not.  It's amazing how you can "redo" even a plain lamp with a great shade.  I decided that the round shades were just either too big or two small for the lamp. 

These shades are expensive and I did not like the look of a larger round shade on this floor lamp and the shade I had was not old and was in good condition. So instead I opted for a new fun finial.

And voila.....

Here are a few of my other lamp projects.....

This lamp is a cheap $30 lamp from Target, bought years ago. It came with a cheap black shade.  I added the new shade and the finial and this is now one of my favorite lamps.

This is a 30+ year-old lamp that sat in my tack room for years with a cheap Target shade.  I dusted it off, took it to the lamp store and it now sits in my master bath.

This is a Wildwood lamp that I bought about 10 years ago. It came with a contemporary drum shade that was very large, too large for this spot but I liked the lamp. So I added this shade and it's in my master bedroom.

I have a pair of these lamps. They are very old but I like the scale of them.  When I moved to the farm I took them to the lamp store and found the perfect shades for them - these shades were made for these lamps. The photo distorts them a bit but the look is perfect.

Here are some photos from the lamp store's website. If you need a lamp refresh throw them in the car and make the trek. The shades are expensive but you can take a very good quality older lamp and make it new again. And they also have a nice collection of Spitzmiller lamps (one day). 

I love making something old brand new again!  Happy Sunday!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Mario Buatta's Fabulous Connecticut House

With the Mario Buatta auction taking place today in New York, there's been lots of press about the late great decorator, the "King of Chintz" including the gothic house he purchased in the early 90's with much fanfare.  For various reasons, he hardly started the renovation and then left the house sitting in a state of decay. It was for sale, $500K cash (he paid $400K for it 30+ years ago).  It needs a total renovation but you can easily understand what he saw in this gem of a house.....

Even the barn is stunning....I read somewhere that Mario added the horse heads when he started the renovation that was never completed.

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