Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Needlepoint Finishing - the Dilemma

Now that the entire world has started stitching, there is a massive backlog of unfinished needlepoint projects.   That ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal - the same story in needlepoint finishing.  A huge blockage means no one is getting their needlepoint finished.  I have numerous ornaments, door hangers and pillows at no less than three separate needlepoint stores, some mailed in October. The only good news is that my checkbook likes the fact that I'm not paying for finishing because it's not done yet.

But there are some options to considers.......

1) Send your projects to your local store.

This is the easiest way out. The deadline for holiday finishing seems to be around June 1st this year and that's with no guarantee that your ornaments will be on anyone's tree this year.

2) Send your projects to online finishers, Etsy and Instagram

This eliminates the middle man so to speak. Instagram is full of them.  

3) Send your pillows to your local fabric store. 

I sent two pillows to my store last week and they are significantly cheaper than the needlepoint stores.  I buy the fabric, trim and inserts first.  And when I do this I typically add a zipper to the pillow so it can be cleaned later in life.  This method is MUCH faster. I should have my pillows by May.  I use The Second Yard in Virginia (great place to buy drapery fabrics).


4) Do it yourself.

I thought about this for about 30 seconds, but since I detest sewing and have zero free time, the allure of saving some money, well, the allure wore off quickly when I thought about spending evenings for a week behind my Bernina.  For those who sew, have the time, this is a fabulous way to get your projects finished quickly.  

You can also find tutorials online on how to finish ornaments.  Glue gun, batting, some cute fabrics and trim, some creative genes in your gene pool and you're ready to go.

5) Other tidbits

I bought a hand steamer last year to use to block my needlepoint.  I hate using stretchers so I have to block my needlepoint in most cases. This little baby does the trick and it's great for clothes steaming too. Who knew?


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Spring Refresh

Spring is trying very hard to arrive but it looks like old man winter is rearing his ugly head later this week.  But a spring refresh always makes you feel invigorated especially after our pandemic winter.  But hope springs eternal and this spring should be a better spring than what we experienced in 2020.  I made a trek over to Charlottesville last week to take a badly needed "mental health day" and it made me want to clean out the house, the farm and get ready for the new season.  So here are few things I am loving for spring ....

How fancy is this for the garden.....

 Love these Ikat napkins and they come in green and blue too.

Fell in love with this garden stool at Caspari.

Love this door hanger and it's perfect for spring and summer.  I'd prefer it without that initial but it comes in three lovely colors.

These plates are perfect for spring and summer dining.  See them here.

 Perfect for the patio, love vintage!  See it here.

Love this china pattern.  Perfect for right now.  See it here.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Vintage Equestrian Finds on Etsy

 Some fun vintage finds this morning with a horsey vibe....Enjoy!

Love this Hazel Atlas set.  

Love these vintage napkins with a fox hunting scene, so unique.

 Love these vintage Limoges plates/dishes.  

Think of the places you could put one of these vintage brasses.  See them here.

Love these vintage horses that the seller has put on a wreath. Again, think of the possibilities but the wreath is a very good idea.  See them here.

Love this vintage bag.  See it here.

Think of the possibilities with this vintage needlepoint card table cover with a polo theme.  See it here.

Another vintage find, a tablecloth with the Austrian Lippazaner Stallions.  See it here.

This vintage frame is quite unique.  See it here.

Love this vintage needlepoint pillow:

Love this vintage feedsack. This fabric could be used for pillows, for a small shade, towels.  See it here.

Love these Hazel Atlas classic glasses. Mid-century modern. See them here.

 Love these vintage cocktail napkins.  See them here.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Friday Musings

 It's a windy Friday here in Virginia.......

Love some of the new arrivals at Lycette...

I'm pretty sure this is true....

There are two horse races worth watching on Saturday.  From Dubai, the $12M Dubai World Cup runs with two American favorites, Mystic Guide and Jesus' Team.  It sounds kind of cheap after the $20M Saudi Cup run earlier this year but this is still a major horse race. Post time is 12:50 pm EDT and these races can usually be found on Fox Sports or the NBC Sports Channel.  

The Florida Derby often produces top Derby favorites and my top picks are Bob Baffert-trained Spielberg and a Tapit colt, Greatest Honour.  Post time is 6:40 pm.  Then next weekend the Bluegrass from Keeneland.

If you are looking for inspiration look no further than Jon Katz's Bedlam Journal. Did I mention also that he's an incredible writer?  It's the small stuff folks, the simple things in life that make the difference as Katz routinely points out.   

Love old horse show photos....

Could you imagine seeing this happen today at a horse show?  Nope. We've dumbed it down so much (just like our K-12 education system).  This was the famous horseman Dave Kelley at Fairfield in 1962.  This fence is 6'9".


Hug your horses today!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Alfie Memories

Still trying to accept and get used to the "new normal" at the farm without Alfie.  I've been trying to understand why his death in particular hit me so hard. Sega, my other "forever horse" is 27 and I've owned her longer than Alfie and we had a more successful career together than Alfie and I did.  I guess I just wasn't "ready" for Alfie to go and I've been preparing myself for Sega's departure for a few years now.  We had a bout with laminitis with her a few years ago and I thought we had lost her then but she rallied so we've come close with her.

Alfie was never retired.  Yes, my horse show life with him slowed quite a bit the past few years, but I always kept him going and he was a sound horse given his age and career.  I fully expected him to keep going for at least two more years.  At his last horse show in November, he kicked butt, out of 29 horses he was 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th.  We had not shown over the jumps in a year which made his ribbons that more impressive.  My plan for 2021 was to show him in equitation - over the jumps and on the flat.  He could go to a show, show in 2 or 3 classes and go home.  He was quite a good equitation horse too - you could ride him that way unlike Madison and Sega.  I was never going to show him enough again to win year-end titles so this was a good plan and I was excited about it.  

I think Alfie and I really bonded once we moved to Virginia in 2010.  Sega retired from the horse show world in 2011 or 2012 (and that took me also by surprise) so Alfie very quickly became my "show horse" all by himself.  Once we were here, we never traveled that far to show.  We went to Raleigh a few times (4 hours), Warrenton (2 1/2 hours), Rosemount (2 hours), Roanoke (an hour) and then we showed the local circuit which is like a rated B show circuit but it's not rated.  Alfie won the Adult Amateur title a few years ago and was always in the year end standings even when we did not show nearly as much as many people.

Alfie was very funny about certain venues on our local circuit.  He HATED Sweetbriar's indoor and Liberty University's indoor.  But he loved Randolph College's indoor.  I took him to Sweetbriar twice and he was equally awful both times.  At one of the shows, I just stopped him and took him out of the ring. At Liberty, the only time I took him there I asked a local rider to show him in a class because he was awful (I was there without my trainer) and she was a very good rider.  He threw her off.  But at Randolph he was fabulous. There was a very fancy horse there named Sunny Banks and the one time we were there, we beat that horse in every class, even the under saddle (and that horse is a fabulous mover).  So he was quirky about rings.  He was not a spooky horse and he never looked at jumps. He looked at what was going on around him so you had to make him focus.  He was like a kid with ADHD.  He tended to have two speeds - good and bad - he either was fabulous like our last show - or he was was just terrible like at Sweetbriar.  You never knew which Alfie was going to show up - the great one or the terrible one - until you were in the ring.  You could not tell warming him up.  I guess he just decided which Alfie he would be that day when he entered the ring.  So you either loved him or hated him at shows, but I eventually learned to accept this behaviour - it was the way he was wired.  And he was a sweet horse - he never meant to hurt you if he threw you off, that's just the way he was.

More memories to come........

Sunday, March 21, 2021

RIP Alfie

2021 ended yesterday for Alfie, just like it started - abruptly.  While most are cheering our return to normalcy soon, we are trying to wrap our heads around the new normal here - life without the horse that had been the life of the farm and a huge part of our life for 16 years.  Alfie was a class act no matter how you saw him - the beautiful black horse with the cutest ears ever, that face, those eyes, the long neck and that jump. No horse could jump quite like him.  He was sweet, kind, complicated and somewhat bi-polar. The other horses saw it in him too. He was the like the great looking most popular boy in the class - everyone gravitated towards him.

I'll never forget how it all started. The phone rang one day, it was Chad.  "Ann, I'm on your horse."  He was in Europe.  A month or so later, "Ann, your horse is here, you have to come see him."    And so I did.  And when I saw that beautiful specimen that was Alfie, how could I not bring him home?   His American life started in Middleburg, Virginia and it ended in Brownsburg, Virginia - an appropriate entry and exit for a horse that was the epitome of what a classic hunter should be.

Alfie never made it easy for any of us, though.  At the time I was living near Pittsburgh and the weather was damp and cold most of the winter. Note to self - try not to buy a young new horse in the dead of winter unless you are in Florida.  I rode Alfie every day for weeks on end, despite the temperature hovering around 20 degrees.  My trainer at the time was not in on the decision to buy Alfie and she was not happy about the purchase but I asked her to hold judgment until she saw him because I thought that she too would learn to love him. 

Once the trainer signed off, I kept him in work but he was young, only four, and I knew I could not bring along a complicated young horse without help.  I took Alfie to his first horse show in early March, where Chad (the same Chad that had found Alfie in Europe) showed him to the first of many tri-colors he would win in his career even though he added down lines in the course - he was just that good that he didn't need to be perfect to win.  But I knew someone else needed to keep riding him so I sent Alfie home with Chad that March with the instructions to bring him back in mid-April to the same venue for the next horse show.  We never told the trainer that this had been our game plan - they always thought that I had kept him going that spring while she was in Florida. 

When Alfie returned to an even bigger A show in April, he threw the trainer off after the first jump. This became his trademark, spinning off the rider, after the first jump when the first jump was off the right lead.  He threw off many well-known professional riders in his career (and this Adult Amateur a few times along the way) but he won the next two classes and his second tri-color. 

I have so many stories and memories of my black boy.  He traveled well - Vermont, Tampa, Ocala, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  He was not a great indoor horse but he shined in big rings where he could show off that incredible jump.  I've never seen a horse that could jump two inches off the base of a jump like he could.  He loved that distance and he could pull it off so well. It was a gift. 

My heart aches for him today.  He did not suffer. But this year was such a struggle for him - his initial injury happened on January 5th.  By mid-February I knew in my heart that he would likely not make it more than 3-6 more months.  We did the best to manage him, keep him happy and comfortable but in the end, he made the decision that he wanted to live his way or not at all.   RIP my black boy.  A piece of me left this earth with you.  I'll see you upstairs eventually.  Love.My.Boy.

Friday, March 19, 2021

National Velvet - Bet You Didn't Know.....

We've all loved and enjoyed Elizabeth Taylor's entre into stardom in National Velvet. She and Mickey Rooney captured the hearts of millions and no matter how many times I watch this movie, I still love it and I still cry. If you have not seen National Velvet, run, don't walk, and download it or order the DVD from Amazon.

Everyone wants to know what happened to the horse in the movie.  Taylor fell from the horse and broke her back during the filming of the racing scene. Although she recovered quickly, she suffered greatly later in life. ... After production was completed, arrangements were made to allow Taylor to keep the horse.  The horse was King Charles and Taylor discovered him while visiting the Rivera Country Club.  He was bought for $800 by MGM and she rode him daily while preparing for the movie.  At the end of the movie MGM gifted him to Taylor and she kept him until he died. The horse was also a grand-son of Man O' War and had been trained as a show jumper.

Did you know that the story that Mi (Mickey Rooney) tells to Donald Brown (played by Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins) about a shipwrecked horse is based on a true story about a New Zealand-bred thoroughbred named “Moiffa” who did in fact survive his ordeal and went on to win the Grand National the following year. You can find that story here.

Did you know that Mickey Rooney had to film all of his scenes in one month before he had to report for basic training to serve in World War II?

Eighteen-year-old Gene Tierney had been set to portray Velvet Brown. When this movie was delayed, Tierney signed a contract with Twentieth Century Fox. 

Carl and Eleanor Goldbogen appeared as extras in the crowd scenes. Carl's brother was Avrom Goldbogen, professionally known as producer Mike Todd, who became Dame Taylor's third husband in 1957. 

If you have not seen National Velvet treat yourself.  Great movies never get old. This one fits that category.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

New Spring Picks for a Post-Pandemic Lifestyle

News flash - the pandemic is still with us.  People are flocking to the beach, getting on airplanes, taking trips like it's 1995.  Covid will not magically disappear once the majority of us are vaccinated.  It's here to stay and while we'll be able to go out more by summer, we'll still be masking up and this baby will again mutate, jump back to animals, then back to humans again.  Shots. Yes, more shots.  More masks.  Yes, for a long time.  Safety precautions will remain.  We will be getting back out, but it's a new normal.  

So while I hope to get out more than I did in 2020, 2021 will be a year of cautious but guarded optimism...... Here are some picks for spring and summer 2021 - still home a lot, but maybe some outside dining, day trips, a trip or two to the beach, by car, I should add.

Love these Ilse Jacobsen shoes for spring and summer.  They come in many colors and are super comfortable.

I ordered these in khaki on sale from Everlane, and they are fabulous.  Waiting for white for summer.  

This is also on my summer wish list.  If you haven not discovered sun shirts you are missing out. I ride in them all summer long but they are great for morning walks, running, tennis, boating or just wearing with shorts or jeans.  These are by Tailored Sportsman.  I love the white collar and you can find these in yummy pastels too.

Also love this Peter Millar top for spring in a tasteful tie-dye. Made for golf but great for any active lifestyle. 

Also love this one, also from Peter Millar:

Love this Vineyard Vines Shep Shirt, perfect for early spring and for cool summer nights.

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