Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Miniature Horse: Five Lessons

My mom found a miniature horse on Craig's List a couple of weeks ago and sent a simple email, "Can we?"  We went to visit Smokey and fell in love.  He was a good mixture of cute and sassy and had the prettiest mane.  My mom bought him on the spot and Smokey moved in a week later.  Becoming horse owners for the first time has been an eye-opening experience.  Here are the things we have found out so far.

1.  Miniature Horse People are the Absolute Coolest

Because Glenn wants only "purposeful" animals on the farm, he started investigating the purpose of having a mini horse.  And boy, was he blown away.  Miniature horses can be fitted to a cart to lug around goods.  Glenn is ready to buy a cart so we can dress up the children in pioneer clothing and have Smokey pull them around the center of town.  People with mini horses can do things like that.  We can also now wear "horse fashion."  I bought this vest for myself:
And I bought this more masculine vest for Glenn:

2.  Riding a Miniature Horse is Really Fun 

Just ask Oliver.  It is so, so fun.  Oliver would eat and sleep while riding Smokey if we would let him.   

Here is Oliver going "hands-free."  

And in this video, Oliver completes his first jump on a horse!

3.  Don't F*** with A Mini Horse

Smokey is a bad ass.  Don't eat his apple; he will bite your back.  Don't try to walk by him when he is trying to steal grain; he will kick the crap out of you.  Lotta and the goats have learned Smokey is in charge.  Here is a picture of Smokey meeting the pasture animals for the first time.  He was trying to give off his best stallion vibe.

4.  Smokey's Stuff Makes for Hours of Entertainment

Smokey's penis has often become the topic of conversation since he moved in.  Oliver will say to me, "Smokey has his penis out.  He needs some privacy." or "He's waving with it, Mommy!"  I have to admit, sometimes it's hard for me to divert my eyes.  Especially when he is waving at me with it.  

5.  Miniature Horses Need A Lot of Attention

Horses need much more time and care than goats and alpaca.  Grammy and Oliver brush Smokey every day and clean out his hooves before Oliver rides.  Smokey is like a child; his behavior must be monitored at all times.  Don't buy a horse unless you are ready to spend hours in the pasture.  So far, we are loving the excuse!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baking a Birthday Cake

I made it to the age of 33 without ever having made a cake.  For the past couple of years I have heard this little voice calling from deep inside, "Bake a cake, Jessica!  You can do it."  Cake baking is a talent that has been passed down from generation to generation in both of our families.  Glenn's sister can whip up an amazing cake creation for every occasion.  This cake she created for her daughter who loves skateboarding.
My mom (who once won a "Mrs. Betty Crocker baking award) has provided me with 33 fantastic birthday cakes over the years.  She is so talented, she began making Oliver's birthday cakes as well.  Here is the cake she made for Oliver's fourth birthday.  It was a pink castle and scary dragon theme.
Glenn and I knew we possessed the genes to make a pretty great cake.  We decided we would spend the day making a cake for Pearl's first birthday.  We sat down the evening before her birthday celebration and began to discuss the type of cake we would make.  Glenn searched for "pearl birthday cake" and this cake popped up.
"Perfect!," I said.  Glenn read the instructions and showed me what we would have to do to build the cake.  First we would have to start with a wood base.  Then we found out the shell is made of hardened Rice Krispies and is covered with colored fondant.  The pearl is even made out of chocolate and has an actual pearl necklace inside.  I knew we found the wrong cake-too damn fancy.  If you want to spend 1000 hours on a cake, read this: Freaking Hard Cake Recipe.  Maybe when Pearl is ten and I have made a few more cakes, I will give that one a shot.

The morning of her birthday celebration, we headed to town to buy all of the ingredients we needed to make Pearl's cake.  Glenn has made many cakes in his day and felt comfortable teaching us all how to mix eggs, flour and sugar.  The cake baking part went well until Glenn realized he doubled the recipe online, then doubled it again in his head.  Glenn tuned pale and began clutching his head like he was having an aneurysm.  I started yelling, "What is happening!?  Talk to me.  Someone call 9-1-1!"  He finally admitted his mistake and I calmed down.  Needless to say we had tons of batter.
Fondant making was easier than I imagined.  Thank you to Glenn for finding an easy fondant recipe.  Oliver and I greased up and kneaded and kneaded that sugar into something smooth and beautiful.
Glenn is somewhat of a master at using the rolling pin.  It is another one of his hidden talents.  I did not want to mess up the cake so far into the process, so I was happy to have Glenn roll the fondant into a perfect circle.  We frosted the cakes and added fruit to make it "healthy" and then Glenn gently rolled the fondant onto the cake.

Pearl went down for a nap, Glenn left to put the clothes out on the line and I was stuck with a perfect white cake to decorate.  I finally got up the nerve to add a pearl necklace to the base of the cake.  I took tons of pictures because I was sure I would mess up the lettering in some way.
I can now tell you how a doctor might feel during a complicated cardiac surgery or a pilot might feel knowing he has to land the plane in a river.  Cake decorating is really stressful.  I wiped my brow with a hand towel and went in with my first handmade string of lavender fondant.  Slowly I spelled out "Pearl" and added a "1" because there was no way I was going to write "birthday."  I added some pretty green pearls and then guarded the thing with my life.
And of course, she loved it.  Or the pretty candle. Whatever.

I have to say, baking a cake all day was pretty great.  This may be a new family tradition for us.  Happy Birthday Pearl!