In which Britt whines about stress

If you want to ignore my whining, and trust me I don’t blame you, tune in next week. I promise I’ll be back to cheerful then.


I’ll admit it, I’m a little overwhelmed. Life is coming at me with just a trifle too much for me to process everything at the moment.

My car decided to have a sick day, which was not cool of it at all. Like, barely got me to work and then was straight up fussy for 36 hours. Of course after that it goes back to normal and even though the shop went over it with a fine tune comb, they can’t find a single thing wrong with it. Oh, except I need four new tires soon. Awesome.

Normally awesome car decided to be not awesome for a day

Normally awesome car decided to be not awesome for a day

Elliot also decided to have sick days, and now needs medicated eye drops three times a day on top of his regular anxiety meds. Thanks Elliot, I promise you I don’t enjoy wrestling you to the ground three times a day either.

And of course Foster’s ulcers and recheck tomorrow are on the brain. Hopefully it will go well, since he’s becoming more and more like himself. By the way, thanks Fosterpants for the solid dressage ride last night. Preesh.

Still, some of it is good- I am absolutely swamped at work but the upside of running to meetings is that I actually get out of my office instead of shutting myself within my windowless four walls murmuring My Precious to the Thunderbolt display before me…

Can't. Stop. Laughing.

Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

Also, I get to celebrate this weekend as part of an old friend’s wedding party. Like, this chick and I go back to kindergarten together. Should be lots of fun. Just gotta get that dress altered, then hemmed, and then try not to give a crap about my semi-permanent farmer’s tan arms.

Aren't they cute?

Aren’t they cute?

And lastly, we are so close to wrapping up our master bathroom I can taste it. All it’s lacking is a couple decor items, which I simply haven’t found time to install between coming home and collapsing into bed.

Things will calm down, I know. But whinging about it in the meantime is therapeutic… right?

A Show Recap: Portofino Horse Trials

Hey there.

At this point in time, I will admit that I am a little too brain-dead to go into a full blown diagnosis of our show on Sunday. After an exhausting weekend filled with Michael Buble:

Buble, Box Seats, and Big finales- oh my!

Buble, Box Seats, and Big finales- oh my!

and an engagement shoot for a friend:

A preview from the engagement shoot

A preview from the engagement shoot

by the time Sunday rolled around I was straight up exhausted. So I decided we were just going to have fun and see what happened, with our fingers and hooves crossed that things went well.

Well, we had truck issues getting to the show and a very kind friend ended up bringing the ponies out to Portofino for us. So I went way out of order, but luckily the show management was willing to be flexible and let things happen as they may. Thank goodness. Foster felt super relaxed in our warmup, so I rode around for 20 or so minutes before going in the arena.

I have watched the video plenty of times and hashed it all over in my head, but here’s the short version: In hind sight maybe I should have focused on getting him more in front of my leg, but whatev’s. I see plenty of things to work on (I smacked myself in the head when I saw my reins getting long again, what is WRONG WITH ME?!) and some bracing stuff, so all in all, not our best test, but not our worst. So frustrating that again our walk wasn’t up to par until the last couple strides, but good enough to get a 7.5. I think I was being a bit conservative because of the last show when he broke. Anyways, here’s the video, which speaks for itself.

Show jumping was catching a lot of riders out with refusals and what not, so I just decided to go in relatively aggressively (again, Foster was completely blase’ through our warmup but just in case) and get er’ done. He got in a bit deep in some spots and cross cantered a ton (where did that come from?) but because the footing was a bit deep I knew if we stopped we’d never get going again, so we persevered. Clean and clear, but not pretty. Oh well.

I had a tired, hot horse by the time we got around to cross country (PS what is up with the temperature going up 10 degrees on show days?!?) but felt pretty good about the course. Trotted over fence 1 as per our game plan and attempted to rock and roll, but unfortunately never got up to speed because Foster wanted to look at all the funny terrain questions (oh-mah-gerd what is the patch of sand doing there?! and Oh snap! there’s a pile of junk beside fence 3! ahh!) but was a good boy all in all. He hopped over the Novice sized (oh yes, 2’11” fences on a BN course!) fences easily. Not that he shouldn’t have, but still. Here’s the video of our cross country, in which I yell about a certain ‘outrider’ who was wandering around my fences as I was trying to go go go! So I (IMHO) politely was trying to tell people that she was being a distraction and needed to get out of my way! Sheesh!

We ended up 3rd out of 8th, on a 34-point-something dressage score and 5 time faults. I’m pleased and think we are very close! Entry is sent in for another horse trial at CHP on the 10th of November, where we will do our damnedest to make time on both SJ and XC!

Until next time.. keep kicking!

A stroke of luck and a wedding

Well, that was another whirlwind week!

We did indeed jump the barrel/chevron love child fence, and even though I thought it was scary, Foster could have cared less. Just another moment that proves that I tend to over think things and let my nerves get the better of me. We’ve also had a couple lovely dressage schoolings, and I feel prepared to dominate our dressage test this weekend. Add that to a great pep talk from a new boarder and fellow eventer, and I’m starting to look forward to the show in earnest. Bring it, Beginner Novice A!

In an unusual stroke of luck, I won not one, but two giveaways I entered last week! I will soon be receiving a b-e-a-utiful purse made from saddle leather scraps (how cool is that!) made by Field & Field, via the oh-so-stylish equestrian blog, DappledGrey. I love the idea of using scraps to make a product that is unique, practical, and so beautifully made! And seriously, what equestrian doesn’t have an obsession with all things leather, particularly tack!


Photo by Sarah Renee Photography, via Field & Field

The second giveaway comes from She Moved to Texas, a very entertaining blog written by a fellow NC State Equestrian Club alum. Equine Aid is a product that encourages horses to drink, and something I would dearly like to test on Foster, who has been reluctant to drink at our last two outings! Even minor heat added to the stresses of running around cross country, makes me want to ensure my horse is properly hydrated. But alas, as they say, you can lead a horse to water... I can’t wait to test this product out- review to come!


Thanks, SheMoved and Equine Aid!

We rounded out the weekend by visiting family in Winston-Salem and attending a fabulous wedding of some great friends of ours! It was a lovely wedding filled with lots of laughs and happy faces, and the bride even arrived in a horse drawn carriage- what’s not to love?! Congrats to Somer and Steve and may you have many, many years of joy and happiness!


Lots of fun and a gorgeous setting!
[photo on right stolen from instagram!]

Liebster Award


So, about a month ago I was nominated for a Liebster Award by fellow equestrian blogger exechorselover. I came across her blog via a former eq club teammate’s blog and have enjoyed following the stories of her horses (including an Irish mare!) and other fun pets! So thanks, exechorseluver for the nomination!

The award is basically a way to acknowledge bloggers with readership under 200 and recognize new blogs to advance this as a form of social media. At the time of my nomination I had really just gotten into blogging (more than 1 post per month), but now that there are a *few* more people checking out my posts I’ve decided it’s time to act on my Liebster Award!

The rules: 

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
4. Display the Liebster award logo.
5. No tag backs.

Eleven facts about me:

1. I have minors in Italian and Psychology. They do me no good on a daily basis, but it gives me great pleasure to read Italian menus.

2. I have never had a bay or (true) chestnut horse.

3. When I was a kid I used to do Elvis impersonations for fun.

4. I can’t help but pronounce the ‘ia’ in miniature… “min-eeh-ah-chur”

5. Singing is my favorite. People who know me in the real world probably know this. Outside, maybe not. Although I do have lots of hits on a random Christmas song I auditioned with! (warning: it’s super awkward!!!)

6. The Redwood Forest is the next travel destination on my bucket list.

7. HGTV is my jam. Seriously. I love it.

8. I met my husband on a Spring Break cruise in the Bahamas.

9. I was a Girl Scout for 20 years. I have my Gold Award (Eagle award equivalent) and everything.

10. Lasagna is my favorite food. My friends called me Garfield as a kid because I ate it so often.

11. I have the best friends, family, and animals ever! Wouldn’t trade them for anything. ❤ !

Eleven questions to answer:

1.  What caused you to start blogging?
I really started blogging after being inspired by the blogs I was reading- it seemed a great tool for tracking memories and progress on various projects. In my case I thought it would be great to be able to track the evolution of our house from foreclosure to home, and to compare notes in Foster’s training!

2.  What was the hardest thing you have ever walked away from?
When I first entered the job market after graduating I was applying to both design positions as well as working student opportunities (as a dressage rider). I received an offer to work in the UK for a great dressage trainer right around the same time I was offered a full time graphic design position here in NC. I accepted the position at home because my then boyfriend and furbabies were here, but sometimes I wonder what my riding would be like if I had gone! Disclaimer: I do NOT regret staying here, and am so glad I did!

3.   What do you wish would change in your every day life?
I seriously wish I could find the motivation to work out every day! Or even a couple times a week! But unfortunately I like my horse and sleep a lot better than the gym.

4.   If you review your blogs, what are you most passionate about?
Oh that’s easy- horses. 🙂

5.  If you had to start a new blog on a total different subject, or a specific subject what would it be?
I guess I would keep the same blog but rename it something more equestrian related!

6.  What was the best moment of your life?
That’s a toughy. Getting married was pretty fantastic *g*. But I can think of one moment in particular when I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I can’t forget. When we were shopping for my first horse (after graduating from the Haflingers) my mum showed me a photo of a chestnut piebald mare showjumping in England. It was just one photo, and she never mentioned it again, but I was smitten- I memorized her markings and doodled her into every notebook I had daily. Then one morning, months later, we were checking out a new barn I would be training at. We were meandering through the stalls and my mum paused in front of one. I took a peak in the stall and recognized the face- it was the same mare! I asked my mum disbelievingly if it was the same horse and she whipped out a camera and said, “It is! Surprise!” I broke down into a melting gross puddle of happiness. That was Merry, and she was a very special horse to me!

7.  Where would you live if money and family were not an issue?
Europe. Likely England thanks to the dual citizenship or Italy to practice my Italian. That would be grand!

8.  If you could be a superior athlete, what would be your sport?
Oh I would definitely stay in the equestrian world. While I don’t think I have the guts to be a 4* eventer (Training level, maybe Preliminary, will be fine for me!), I could definitely enjoy dressage or showjumping at the highest levels.

9.  What is one trait you wish you had more of that you don’t?
It would be super convenient if I liked coffee. I unfortunately can’t stand the stuff, not even the smell. Would be much cheaper than my red bull addiction!

10.  What is one somewhat unique ability you have that most people don’t?
Can we call it ‘extreme multi-tasking?’ I have a serious GO button that means I am almost often whizzing around and wanting to complete 129,837,498 things at once. I’ve learned from living with different people that not many people are like this. And thank goodness too; I think if I had to chase around after me I would shoot myself!

Or how about being an eventer that truly ENJOYS dressage? That’s definitely unique! 😀

11.  If you had only five books to read (and re-read) for the rest of your life what would two of them be?
Maybe you haven’t read my post about how much I love the Outlander series 🙂
Nerd alert! I also like re-reading Harry Potter, though I haven’t since the last movie came out.
Otherwise I think I could be happy reading anything by Jane Austen. *adding re-read Pride & Prejudice to my list right now!*

Eleven questions for you:

1. A classic- what are two things you just can’t live without?

2. What types of blog posts do you enjoy reading most?

3. If you were a car, what would you be?

4. Name your personal idol and why you idolize them.

5. What is your dream job? Or if you are already in it, is it what you expected?

6. If you had one talent that you didn’t already have, what would it be?

7. What is your greatest accomplishment to date?

8. Chocolate or vanilla?

9. Do you prefer a team sport setting or individual athletics?

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

11. If you could step into someone’s shoes for a day, who would it be?

Blogs I nominate:

1. Schwooch Adventures
2. Marcey Madness
3. Live Laugh Love
4. From the Horse’s Mouth
5. Caroline Eventing
6. Alchemy Eventing
7. Capital Cowgirl
8. Miss Equestrian
9. Equestrian Bitch
10. Vet Gone Eventing
11. Redesigned by M

Thanks to everyone for reading! I hope as more and more people read they leave me comments so I can check in with everyone! It’s also nice to hear what people think about what I’m posting.  And I hope those I nominate will enjoy the Liebster award as much as I!

The Honeymoon Part I: Scotland

Long overdue.. as in months overdue.. but here it is- better late than never, right?

Our first stop was Edinburgh, Scotland. We got there and were pleasantly surprised to see the sun shining, even if it was cold cold cold. We stayed in a nice little hotel that was once a house, about 20 minutes walking time from New Town. This is what the locals call the part of the city that was built on the drained Nor Loch in the 18th century. The Old Town includes Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and Holyrood Palace, and is where Tyler and I spent most of our time.

Our first real day there we made a point of checking out the old Castle, a huge piece of architecture overlooking the city- you really can’t miss it no matter where you are! As is par for the course with castles, the structure was added onto bit by bit over the centuries. Tyler and I love history and spend lots of time inside wandering the many mini museums and were lucky enough to see the shooting of the One O’Clock Gun, a tradition that started at the Castle in 1861. After getting our fill of the Castle, we proceeded down the Royal Mile.

It's cold and drizzly but we're excited to be there!

It’s cold and drizzly but we’re excited to be there!

After exploring the Royal Mile, and buying a much needed set of wool gloves for my numbed fingers, we made our way to Holyrood Palace. I was very interested in this place as I had read about it in my favorite book series, Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Holyrood (meaning Holy Cross) is a very elegant palace that the Queen still uses today when she visits Scotland. We spoke with the very helpful staff who answered many of our questions, and showed us the menu the Queen used when she was there last, only a couple weeks before. We also learned the significance of the Unicorn and Lion on the British crest- the unicorn represents Scotland, and always wears chains to represent the taming of such a wild (physically and socially) country. When you are in Scotland, the unicorn will always be on the left. In England, the unicorn is on the right. Holyrood is also home to the jawdropping ruins of an ancient abbey, and the photographer in me squealed in joy when we found it.

Holyrood Palace, as seen through my oh-so-fun fisheye

Holyrood Palace, as seen through my oh-so-fun fisheye

The beautiful Holyrood Abbey Ruins

Also worth mentioning regarding our wanderings of Edinburgh are the Whiskey Tour (Awesome and a MUST SEE even if you don’t like straight whiskey), the Elephant Room (where JK Rowling started Harry Potter- squee!), and the Real Mary King’s Close (a tour of the city underneath the city, haunted by souls long gone -insert ghost noise here-).

Sometime during our few days in Edinburgh we took a half day trip to Melrose and Roslin. We were part of a group tour with a fantastic tour guide who was extremely personable and full of fun facts. Our first stop, Melrose, is home to more ruins. The ruins were the former abbey of the Cistercian monks, and was quite obviously a very lavish place back in it’s days of glory. Even in ruins, the scale of the abbey was breathtaking. Tyler and I took an audio tour around the abbey, climbing up the narrow staircases and even checking out the ceiling before making our way to lunch and getting back on the bus.

The amazing countryside on our day trip

The amazing countryside on our day trip

Tyler and Melrose Abbey

Tyler and Melrose Abbey

 The next stop on our day trip was Roslin. I’m not going to lie, one of the main reasons we wanted to see the chapel is because of the mystery surrounding it in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code (Spoiler alert, if you haven’t read it.. or watched the movie… Roslin Chapel is where the bloodlines of Christ were stored and Mary Magdalene buried). In its own right though, the Chapel is truly beautiful, made out of many different colors of stone. Apparently it was falling into a state of disrepair before Dan Brown’s book, and now attracts the same number of tourists in one month that it used to see in a year! Unfortunately they do not allow photography or videos inside, so I do not have evidence of our visit. The intricate carvings and mysterious stories (for instance they “won’t” excavate beneath the Chapel, even though X Rays show something down there) made it a neat stop.


Roslin Chapel from the outside

After our stay in Edinburgh, we took an 8 hour train ride (read: caught up on sleep) to Inverness. Inverness is located way up north in the Highlands, which is a breathtakingly wild looking place with beautiful snow capped mountains and rushing rivers. It’s a very cute little city with lots of charm. Tyler and I felt a bit foolish when we first arrived, looking like tourists wandering about with our huge suitcases. We got out of the train station, took a right and walked for 5 minutes before realizing the street numbers weren’t going the right way! When we finally reached the train station again we saw that the hotel was actually in the same building as the station *slaps forehead*. Our hotel was our favorite of the trip- here’s why:


Inside our Inverness Hotel

Inverness is also where Loch Ness, and the Battlefield of Culloden, are located. The first morning after we arrived we went on a cruise on the Loch Ness, which took us the Urquhart Castle and then back again. The Loch was really beautiful, but we had to suffer through frigid temps and wind in order for me to snap photos. Tyler and I really enjoyed touring the Castle (once the largest in Western Europe), so much so that we almost didn’t make it back to the boat!


The Loch Ness


Hanging out at Urquhart Castle

The next morning we got up bright and early and attempted to make our way to Culloden. It being Sunday, I had forgotten that public transportation was at a minimum. We spent at least 20 minutes chasing after buses i the rain and attempting to divine the complex bus schedules before finally catching one that looked to be heading to Culloden. The bus took us out into the country, and dropped us at a nondescript spot on the edge of a neighborhood, with the advice to head “thataway”. So we did, walking along the edges of fields in a mist that was turning into rain, and praying we would see a sign, or something, that would tell us we were headed the right way. Well, after floundering about for 40 minutes, and getting increasingly worried that we were 1) stranded in the Scottish countryside and 2) that we wouldn’t make it back to Inverness to catch the only train out of town or 3) both, we finally caught up with a biker who told us the battlefield was a mere 1.5 mile walk from there.

When we finally did reach it, we had a quick bite to eat in the Museum cafe and then went out to explore the infamous field itself. Culloden is the site of the defeat of the Jacobite Army by the English in 1746. The battle was a blood bath, and afterwards Scots were prohibited from wearing tartan or speaking Gaelic, and banned from many historic traditions. I am particularly interested in Culloden because of my obsession with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, which centers around the battle.


Tyler and I in front of the Cairn dedicated to those fallen at the site


Me with the memorial stone for the Frasers, a family written about in Outlander


Closeup of the Cairn, with wreaths placed at the anniversary of the battle, which we just missed

After exploring and taking lots of photos, we caught a cab back to Inverness and were luckily able to catch our train to York. Onto England!

A quick recap on a few -minor- events

On the wagon, off the wagon. You’d think I was on diet talking like this [I am, but let’s talk about that later maybe], but it’s the blog I really want to discuss. My bad. I’ll try and keep things current- goodness knows there’s enough to discuss!

So let’s recap. Tyler and I got married- we had a beautiful evening filled with family, friends, and LOTS of dancing- just the way we wanted it 🙂

From the wedding

(photo copyright by Robyn Van Dyke Photography)

Then we went on an amazing action-packed honeymoon to Scotland and England. Here’s a photo of us in front of St. Michael’s in Aldershot. St. Michael’s has significance to my family because it’s where my great-grandparents and grandparents were married, and where practically everyone (including myself) was christened as a baby. Will write a blog post dedicated to the honeymoon soon!


Immediately upon arriving home, we found ourselves locked out of the house for over an hour and a half (thanks Nikki for saving us in the end!), but shortly thereafter things started looking up. We’ve cleaned up a part of the house and have finally been able to start making plans for the future now that all of the craziness of the wedding is out of the way! While I am truly sad it’s over (I loved being able to  plan all the details of such a big event!) it is nice to be able to focus on other things.

Our next big event will be Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, though an American holiday, has become a huge event for my family. We always bring Sue over from England, pop the crackers (once a year at Christmas is not enough), and I daresay make more food than even the normal American family! So not only will my family be coming (that’s 6 people, in case you’re wondering), I was just notified that Tyler’s family will also be invited (another 6 people at least) to my first real hosting event. I was hoping to cook my first turkey- can it really be that different from a chicken?- and try making Yorkshire pudding, plus ALL the fixings- with one oven no less!  Anyways, several months to plan for this and all of the landscaping improvements I want implemented before having people over- an adventure in itself!

Until next time…

A dream doesn’t…

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
-Colin Powell

It all started with a thought.

One evening, a few months ago, Tyler and I thought it might be a good time to hunt for a house. We both have good jobs, interest rates are really good, and we kept hearing that the Raleigh house market was expecting to bounce back soon. So we figured we’d start looking.

We looked at properties all over town- Apex, Fuquay, Holly Springs, Durham, and Raleigh. Every place we went to, there was something wrong with it- backyard too small or a mudhole, no garage, on the highway, house too small, weird layouts, bad neighborhoods. We must have seen almost 20 houses. Only two stood out to us.

The first was an adorable house in Apex, very convenient to the highway but sans the noise and located in a mature, impeccably maintained neighborhood. The drawback- it was on a pond. While the survey said the plot was a third of an acre, in reality it was about half that- thanks to the inclusion of the pond. Not very helpful when half your land is water! However, the layout worked, we loved the neighborhood, and we kept thinking about it.

The other was a foreclosure. Sure, there were holes in the walls, a jungle in the backyard, and carpets that even the bravest soul dare not walk barefoot upon, but again it was located in a fantastic neighborhood, had the best layout we’d seen, and all .4 acres were dry! After much soul searching, and discussing whether or not a project was right for us, this is the house we put in an offer on.

The great thing about a foreclosure is that you can get a good deal. The downside is that you buy the house ‘as-is’. We could inspect all we want, but we couldn’t turn on the water or gas, and HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development- US government) wasn’t going to help us to discover the history of the house.

The other downside to this whole process is that we had 15 days to inspect the house and back out if we could. You might be thinking “2 weeks? Sounds long enough!”, but unfortunately, those 15 days included Christmas eve, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, and 2 weekends- a tough time to schedule inspections, tests, and any other thing for that matter!

Nonetheless, we did it all, and came within hours of the 15 day notice and committed to the house. The house on the hill would be ours.