2015 Year In Review

Every year I do an annual recap, published on December 31st. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to look back on the year, reflect on the good and the bad, and to prepare for the new year. Without further ado, I give you 2015.


Jan 2: Katie goes riding. I took my niece, Katie, riding. She was the cutest little rider and we had a ton of fun!

Katie & Missy
Katie & Missy

Jan 4: Stuart Scott dies. I had the chance to meet him a long time ago and he was a really cool guy.

Jan 23 – Jan 26: Moonshine Manor. We went to Bodega Bay with the fire wives and their hubbies for Bobby’s 40th birthday. It was a blast! #bcbc40.


Feb 8: Schooling show with Sue. It was cold, it was wet, and he ran off with me. But we nailed that pesky right lead!

Feb 21: Crab feed with the fire wives and husbands. Always a fun time!

Brad Rides

Feb 22: Brad goes riding. I took my nephew, Brad, riding. He showed up in boots, wranglers, and a hat… just about melted my heart! And, in true boy fashion, just wanted to ride fast! 


Mar 5: Sue has his teeth floated. It was really cool to spend the morning

Working On The Front Teeth
Working On The Front Teeth

watching Sue get his teeth worked on by the dentist!  The vet was very patient with me and answered all of my questions. Sue was a champ!

Mar 7: Behind the Cellar Door. Our annual wine

Mike & I
Wine Tasting

tasting trip was amazing! I love that Amador county does this every year.

Mar 15: Chickens! I went to the feed store and came home with 10 chicks. Seriously, my husband loves me.

Mar 28: Garth Brooks gone wrong. Horribly wrong. Anna + Red Bull = no good.


Apr 13: Schooling show with Sue. This show was the first one that we

Chloe, Sue, & I
Chloe, Sue, & I

made it through all of our classes without being disqualified! It was a great experience and we had so much fun. Even Chloe got in on it, sitting for a minute or two on Sue with me.

Apr 19: Finished the chicken coop and moved the chickens in. I built my own chicken coop with my own two hands. It’s still standing and I love it – so do the girls!

The Finished Product!
My First Tattoo

Apr 25 – 26: Monterey getaway. We had some free passes to the aquarium, so we decided to head out to Monterey for the weekend. The weather was beautiful and I got a tattoo!

Apr 25: Seahorse tattoo. I got my first and only tattoo… a seahorse on my right ankle. The tattoo and placement are very special and meaningful to me – it’s on my right ankle which is my “bad” foot and also matches where Mike has his tattoo. I’ve always loved seahorses and what they represent – tenacity, perception, patience, and contentment.


May 26: Septic tank overflows. The Sweet Pea man is my new best friend. Yuck.


Jun 5: My brother in law, Nate, is pinned as a peace officer. So proud of everything he went through to get there!

Jun 6: My 10 year anniversary at Intel. Time flies when you’re having fun! Honestly, I can’t imagine working anywhere else!

Jun 6: American Pharoah wins the triple crown. What an amazing horse!

My people

Jun 10 – Jun 16: Newport Beach trip. Despite a brief bout of seasickness, losing an engine 8 miles off the coast, and a flat tire on the way home, the trip was a blast! We caught lots of fish, visited Catalina, and paddle boarded along the beach.

Jun 20: First time working cows. I had no idea what I

was doing or how my horse would react. As it turns

Cutting A Cow
Working cows

out, we both loved it! We started with buffalo before moving on to cows and have not looked back!

Jun 23: James Horner dies in a small plane crash. He’s my favorite composer of all time.

Jun 30: Legs transforms to “Bruce”. On this day, we discovered we had a rooster.


Jul 4: Dad’s surprise 60th birthday party. My parents share a birthday

Surprise party

(cool, huh?) but this year was a special one for Dad – his 60th! We threw him a surprise party at my house. We sang, we ate, and we celebrated. It was a blast!


Jul 22: Plantar Fasciitis. I got a cortizone shot (my first ever) in the bottom of my foot and a boot for 6 weeks. At least I could still ride!

Jul 26: First egg from our chickens! It was amazing!


Aug 4: Jury duty. Did my civic duty and thankfully got excused!

Aug 22: Felix and Mask come home. Yup, I added to the zoo – two barn cats who have taken to hunting!


Sept 4: Brady joins the family. Shadow is not impressed. Through a series

Meet Brady!
Meet Brady!

of fortunate circumstances, this handsome fella joined the farm and we haven’t looked back since! He’s a kick ass dog that loves to go places, meet new dogs, and hang out at the ranch!

Sept 9: Butte Fire starts. It was a scary few days for me since not only was the fire about four miles from my

Butte Fire

house, but my hubby was out there fighting it. So many lost their homes, animals, and lives. It was devastating to see, but truly amazing to watch my community come together!


Sept 18-20: Cowgirl Posse Trip. I look forward to this weekend so much! This year was even more exciting because my friend Jamie bought a horse and came along as well! The trip was great – Brady got to come and I had my first ever bareback ride on Sue!


Oct 2 – Oct 4: NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno. This was so much fun! I went with my friends from the barn and we did just about everything in 3 days! I saw my first horse auction, watched the pros compete, and bought my first chaps and hat!

Oct 4: Schooling Show with Sue. We won our first ever ribbon – third place

First Ribbon!

in our rail class! The ribbons mean so much more to me – it’s the hours of work that Sue and I put in together that finally pays off in those few minutes in the show pen!


Oct 10: Juliette’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 1st Birthday. Julsey had her first birthday party! She has quite the little personality – so different from Chloe!

Oct 15: Bought a horse trailer. I’m so excited to now

Truck & Trailer

officially have just about everything that you have to have to own a horse! We’re independent now! I got a beautiful Turnbow two horse slant… and the truck pulls it like a dream!

Oct 15 – Oct 25: 4th Anniversary road trip. This year we covered Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama!

Oct 22: Our four year wedding anniversary!

Crimson Tide Game

Oct 24: My first Crimson Tide game! Roll Tide! One of the best parts of visiting Alabama was spending time with my great Uncle Banny. He’s my grandpa’s younger brother and it was just great to see where they grew up. Spending time with him was like seeing Grandpa (who died in 2003) again!

Oct 30: Bought an Apple Watch. It replaced my Fitbit Surge and I absolutely love it!


Working Cows

Nov 7: Worked cows with Sue. Working cows is always fun! Sue seems to love it (he’s what is called “cowy”, meaning he loves chasing them) and I have a great time too!

Nov 8: Schooling show with Sue. This show was particularly special to me, because we won our first blue ribbon. We got it in the trail class, which is something that Sue always seems to like doing, but was especially special because one of the obstacles was the water box – something that Sue has been terrified of. Not only did we conquer it, but we won! The ribbon represents more than just winning at the show – it symbolizes hours of us working together to overcome that fear and build trust in each other. I’m so proud of my boy!

First Blue Ribbon

Nov 15: Jamie’s bridal shower. My good friend and riding buddy Jamie is getting married in early 2016 – she’s marrying one of Mike’s really good friends. It was so awesome to go to her bridal shower and spend the day celebrating her!

Nov 26: Thanksgiving & Mike’s birthday. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year and it was a blast!

Nov 29: Stretch the chicken is killed. It was bound to happen, but it was still sad. One of my favorites, Stretch was known as a chick for stretching her head to see everything. Not sure what got her, but I buried her, where she was “resurrected” three weeks later…


Dec 6: Schooling show with Sue. We placed second in our rail class and

Show Posse

reserve in our ranch pattern class. Some random guy took a picture of our barn all on horseback waiting for our classes – I made it black and white and think it’s amazing!


Dec 12: Chloe’s 3, let’s have tea birthday party! This little girl sure does love a tea party! She was so busy decorating her tea cup with stickers that she didn’t want to open presents!

Dec 20: Annual cookie baking at my parents house. I absolutely love this

Making Cookies

tradition – it’s so nice and cozy at my parents and now that my nieces are getting a little older, they’re starting to participate too!

Dec 24: Christmas with the Blankenheims/Guzmans. It was a different kind of Christmas – a snow storm and a crash into a power pole took out the power to the entire county. Christmas Eve mass was cancelled, which felt really weird, but we had a great time celebrating with the family!

Dec 25: Christmas with the Smithsons/Barcklays. We had the best day – Kati and Nate made an amazing prime rib and we had a blast watching the kids with all of their new toys!

Visiting with Oma

Dec 26: Christmas with the Zenos/Myers/Jones. Besides having an amazing breakfast and hanging out with the family, I got a chance to visit my Oma, who suffers from Alzheimer. It was hard, but it was so wonderful to spend time with her!


Merry Christmas!

We spent Christmas Eve with Mike’s side of the family. The normal tradition is Mass, followed by presents at Grandma’s, then presents at his parents. This year was a little bit different – we had some snow and a county-wide power outage, so Mass ended up being cancelled. We headed over to Grandma’s for the traditional hors d’oeuvres and presents. Here’s Grandma’s beautiful tree:

Christmas Eve 2015 (3)

And of course, some of my favorite Blankenheims:

Then we headed over to Mike’s parents house for more presents and one of my favorite traditions, wrapping paper wars. Everyone opens, balls up their wrapping paper, and then it’s all out war!

Christmas Eve 2015 (1)

Christmas morning is always fun for me… Shadow has always known what’s up and absolutely loves opening his presents. This year was no different, however, now we’ve added Brady to the mix. He’s not as enthusiastic about opening presents the way Shadow is, but he sure did love playing with his tennis balls once we helped him get them open!

We spent Christmas Day with my side of the family.

Our gift to the kids (along with Mama and Daddy) was a playhouse… the kids loved it!

Kati and Nate hosted this year and made some delicious prime rib (and even better au jus Nate!). Chloe even got to have some quality story time with Oma and Grandpa:


And, of course, no Christmas is complete without a visit with your horse. He’s already torn two holes in his blanket (which was his Christmas present), so I’d say it’s a hit.

IMG_7883 R

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Christmas Cards

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I try to include my little family in my card, each year adding a little humor (one year I photoshopped my pooping dog into the Swiss Alps with Mike and I).

Every year I display our cards through Christmas. This year I’ve decided to keep it up through New Years, so everyone who comes to the party will get a chance to see them.

Here’s this year’s collage so far:


Thank you to all of our friends and family who sent cards this year – I love seeing how your families have grown and hearing from you! Merry Christmas!


Love It: Apple Watch

Back in October I finally caved in and bought the Apple Watch. I had been on the fence for a while, and until that point had tried several different Fitbits, the last being the Fitbit Surge. The part I really liked was the motivation to move – while I consider myself active, my “day job” has me at a desk where it’s easy to spend a little too much time staring at the computer and not enough time moving.

First off, here’s a look at my watch:


I went with the 38mm watch face (the smaller one), which is perfect for my little wrist. I chose my signature color, blue, for the band. This is one of the first things that’s pretty cool – you can remove and change the watch bands.

I absolutely LOVE how seamlessly it works with my iPhone… once they were connected, everything just worked. Most of the apps on my phone have a watch version – basically a pared down skeleton version. It’s awesome to be able to check the weather or pull up maps without having to get my phone out of my purse.

Apple also did a great job on the customization options – there are 12 different watch faces that you can choose from, and within each of those are color and app customization options. My favorite is the big one in the middle – I like being able to access the apps from the home screen.


At first I was worried about battery life… but have no fear – even with using the apps to track exercise and throughout the day, I haven’t yet had the battery die on me. I do charge it every night.

Here are some of the features that I absolutely love:

  • Phone calls: Yes, I know I look like a dork talking to my wrist. It’s definitely not ideal (the caller is on speaker), but having the ability to take a quick call from your wrist is pretty cool.
  • Text messages: This is probably one of my favorite features. I love being able to read and reply to messages from my watch.
  • Fitness Apps: There are two the come with the watch – Activity and Workouts
    • Activity: This is the app shows you your “rings” for the day and your goal is to close them all buy the end of the day. There are three “rings” that you try to close each day:
      • Red: Move – this goal is changeable. This is the number of calories burned throughout the day
      • Green: Exercise – your goal is 30 minutes of exercise a day. This is not just working out – this includes walking and all general movement.
      • Blue: Stand – this one is really cool. The idea is that you stand for at least one minute in twelve different hours during the day.
    • Workouts: This app tracks your specific workouts – Indoor Running, Indoor Walking, Outdoor Running, Outdoor Walking, Elliptical, Rower, Stair Stepper, and Other to catch the rest of your exercises. You’ll capture more detail about the specific workout you’re doing.IMG_1550
  • Apps: Love them. CNN actually sends news alerts to my wrist. I can check my exercise trending for the day. I can check my Starbucks card balance and even PAY for my coffee with Apple Pay.

Here are some of the things I wish the Apple Watch would do:

  • Function without my iPhone. Let me caveat this one – it works without my phone. I just wish that all of the features worked when I didn’t have my phone nearby – like text messages and phone calls. Some of the apps require your phone as well.
  • Be waterproof! This is what ultimately killed my Fitbit Surge – giving Sue a bath. I wish they made one that was more the just splash resistant!

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a fun, functional, motivational timepiece, the Apple Watch is the watch for you! I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up!

The Chicken Chronicles: Rest in Peace Stretch

Well, I was planning on posting a review of my Apple watch, but sadly, I have some bad news to share. Today we lost our first chicken, Stretch. I’m not sure exactly what got her, but something made it into the orchard and killed her. I’m sad because she was one of my favorites from the start – named Stretch because as a chick she was always craning her neck to check out her surroundings and loved to be held.

I went to put the chickens to bed this evening and noticed Bruce (the rooster) was sitting in the doorway of the hen house making a lot of noise – he wouldn’t let the rest of the girls out.

I decided to bury her – even with pets it just seems like the right thing to do. Our ground is ridiculously hard right now, but it felt good to take out some of the sad on the dirt. She’s in a nice little spot near some rosemary.

Rest in peace, Stretch.


Baby Sue!

I’ve been waiting a while to get my hands on these… pictures of baby Sue being born!!! Warning that some of these pictures may be considered a little graphic for some! I actually squealed when I started scrolling through them! He looks like a very tiny version of my now big boy!!!

Baby Sue (with sac)
Baby Sue (with sac)
Mama Banshee Checking Him Out
Mama Banshee Checking Him Out
Taking A Little Rest
Mama Telling Him To Stand Up
A Little Help Standing Up
A Little Help Standing Up
A Little Wobbly!
A Little Wobbly!
Got That Standing Thing Down!
Got That Standing Thing Down!

Fire On The Mountain!

As you may or may not know, here in California we’re facing an unprecedented drought. On September 9th, a small fire started just a few miles from the barn where I keep Sue. Due to severe dry conditions and very steep canyons, what is now know as the Butte Fire exploded. Over the next few days it would continuously double in size. As of right now, it’s currently sitting at 71,660 acres, with only 37% containment. There are 4,668 firefighters out there trying to stop it. It’s crossed into two counties and came within 4.5 miles of my home. My horse was evacuated on the second day.

I’ve spent the last seven days trying to decide what to take if I needed to evacuate. Obviously my small zoo would go with me (picture my little Rav4 crammed with two dogs, two cats, and two parakeets). The chickens would be freed to the wild to fend for themselves. I have some important documents, my marathon medals, my husband’s Ironman medals, and some other personal items. What else do you take? There was a moment when I just sat there paralyzed… unable to think of anything that I should pack. Thankfully, the lines have held and today we have fog.

I did have the opportunity to go out and help with some of the evacuated animals. It was heartbreaking to see the horses with phone numbers painted on their sides or hooves and turned loose, in hopes that they could outrun the fire when trailers weren’t available to get them out.

I was amazed at my little community. I’ve always known that Amador and Calavaras counties were tight knit, but it’s been spectacular to see them come together to help each other. People drove trailers in and out of danger all night to rescue others’ animals. Strangers opened their homes to those who had lost their own. Hundreds of people reached out in any way possible to try to help their friends and neighbors. Now, “thank you firefighters” signs have started popping up everywhere – words that mean more to me now than ever.

Butte Fire 9-10-15
My Home on Day 2

I am completely amazed at the brave men and women out fighting this beast. From the firefighters on the line (my hubby included!) to the pilots of helicopters and planes (who pull of some ridiculously dangerous maneuvers), they risk everything day in and day out to try to save life and property.

Plane In The Smoke
Plane In The Smoke

So tonight before you go to bed, say a little prayer or send a happy thought into the universe, not only for the people of Amador and Calaveras counties, but for those up in Lake county who are dealing with an equally deadly fire.

Meet Brady!

My husband is learning faster and faster that I’ve got a big soft spot when it comes to animals. Our count is now two dogs, two cats, nine chickens, two parakeets, one horse, and a handful of fish.

Through a series of fortuitous (for me, at least) circumstances, Brady came into our lives. He most definitely chose me… basically hopped into my car at the barn and never looked back. He’s amazing… loves to romp around, but completely submissive to Shadow (who is very much the alpha of our house). He is four years old, is great with just about any dog, kids, and even small animals. He likes to chase the chickens and the cats (he’s treed Felix twice and chased Mask up the banister), but doesn’t hurt them. He is well mannered (need to work on that recall!), loves to swim, and is pretty good with the horses at the barn. Ok, maybe not pretty good… he’s very trusting and walks where he shouldn’t… the pony stepped on him the other day and he almost got kicked by a pissed off mare, but he’ll learn. He also got himself skunked the other day… once again, need to work on the recall.

He’s a really good traveler too… he goes with me to the barn and went out to a couple different ranches the other day as we helped clean up after and take care of some of the evacuated horses. If the fires clear up and we’re able, he’ll head out with me to the cabin this weekend for the 2015 Cowgirl Posse trip. I love having a pup that can go everywhere with me!

Meet Brady!
Meet Brady!

Shadow is still getting settled with having a “little” brother (Brady outweighs him by 10 pounds). For the most part, they get along really well… Shadow has been an only dog for 10 years now and this integration has gone way better than I thought it would. They even unite to bark at the UPS guy:

Two Buddies
Two Buddies

I’m so happy to be a two dog family now! Life is good!

The Chicken Chronicles: Meet Bruce

Well, at 15 weeks of age, one of my hens has undergone a transformation. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bruce (formerly known as Legs):

Bruce (formerly known as Legs)
Bruce (formerly known as Legs)

How do I know for sure?

I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do about it… I definitely know I can’t kill him. And I don’t want to get rid of him (I’m attached!). I guess we just have a rooster. I need to read up a bit more to find out what the implications of that will be…

The adventure continues!!!

In Memorium: James Horner

The world lost an amazing musician and composer yesterday… in fact, my second favorite, next to Beethoven. I grew up playing French horn, and James Horner was known for some absolutely breathtaking French horn parts.

If you think you haven’t heard James Horner’s music, think again… if you’ve watched Field of Dreams, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Titanic, Avatar, The Mask of Zorro, WillowLegends of the Fall, and a whole host of other amazing movies, you’ve heard his music. Often, the music in a movie is not focused on, yet Horner’s fantastic compositions brought life, magic, sadness, and beauty to the screen. They bring the scene to life.

Music has the ability to move us in ways that words cannot. It transcends words, language, race, and time. Below are a few of my James Horner favorites. Rest in peace.

One of my favorite “angry french horn” songs called “Master Alarm” from Apollo 13:

Braveheart Main Title Song:

“Somewhere Out There” from American Tail, which was sung by Linda Ronstadt:

“Rogue Wave” from the movie A Perfect Storm:

“Death of Titanic” from, well, you guessed it… Titanic:

I also think “A Hymn To The Sea” from Titanic totally makes the movie: