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Category: Blog

Horse Quilt Creation

When it comes to horses, I’ve always been a fan. I guess you could say that everyone has their animal to adore and this is mine. Every year, I like to go to Mackinac Island for the Festival of the Horse. It’s a fun time and I like the feel of the island so it’s a great excuse to get away.

This year, I was particularly blown away by what I can do with my sewing machine. I’ve become great at a lot of sewing related projects. I thought that I would turn my love of horses into a fun passion project. I’ve been slaving by my sewing machine, but I’ve finally done it. I’ve created a beautiful horse quilt.

When the nights get chilly, I like to bring out a blanket to keep me warm. I love to have my beautiful sewing creations on display, so this year I thought I’d bring my quilt along. Not only will it keep me warm, but it will show my love of the festival. To me, this is a win-win type of situation.

You probably don’t even know how much time I put into this quilt. Quilting is even more specialized than many sewing projects. You are working with small squares. The small portions of fabric though can be chosen with a lot of meaning. I wanted to have mine completely with horse fabric from all over. I would order in bits of fabric from stores online as well.

Compiling the fabric was quite a hunt for me. It took me a while to get everything that I needed. I had to go to lots of fabric stores in my city. It was an exhaustive search. The ladies in a few of them started to recognize me. I would tell them about my project. It was an exciting time.

Ultimately, I enjoy my hunts a great deal. They give me a treasure at the end to work with as well. I found that I wasn’t particular about a color scheme, so my blanket is really a mixture of everything in terms of chromatics. This makes it rich and lively though, so I am not complaining.

When I set about on this adventure, I wasn’t quite sure where it would lead me. I just was feeling creative and wanting to explore where this would take me. I’m glad though that I gave it a good shot. It led me to a place where I had a sense of pride in my accomplishment.

It’s good to explore your hobbies a little further and take it to the next level, I concluded. With this stamina, I hope to continue my momentum and go forward to new pursuits. I hope everyone at the festival likes my blanket. I worked really hard on it, so it would be nice to get a few compliments. I don’t think I’d use it as a picnic blanket though. It’s a bit too precious for that.

Heating Bill Got You Down?

Do you open your utility bill and cringe? I do. I am so concerned about the cost of energy from an environmental point of view and also for my own budget. So what can you do? I can tell you right now that you can take control of your environment and save yourself some money. Just think of all the things you can do with the excess. I can go back to Mackinac Island, my favorite haunt. I have a travel bug when it comes to this scenic place. It is a great place to ride horses, even a carriage (no cars allowed on the island), participate in water recreation, and eat great local food. I am going to do something about the high cost of heating my home right now. You may have your own methods and I have mine. The first thing I do is wear proper clothing. You can’t expect to beat the cold in shorts and a tank top. I wear sweats and change from work attire as soon as I get home. I do not turn the heater on. If it is freezing out and you must, do not leave it on all day. You will have a whopper of a bill.

You can have a few throw blankets around the house. Put one on the sofa and one on your bed. If they are wool, they really work, plus they are so cozy. I also wear comfy lined slippers, drink hot chocolate at night, and use a space heater. They don’t cost much, are portable and light weight, and they will surely save you enough money to offset their cost in a few months. You can get the size you need according to the space to be heated. They work fast so you can turn them on only when you are home. I have three to meet my winter needs. One is a small countertop size that fits on my desk next to the laptop. It warms my hands and face. Next I keep a larger one in the living room when I have guests. I can move it to the kitchen whenever I want. Usually the oven takes care of this room as I prepare dinner. The last one goes in the bedroom and stays on while I sleep. It keeps me toasty warm. I have set it to automatically shut off after four hours or you may dry the room out. I can breathe better without it on all night. I can take it to the bathroom in the morning to heat up this tiny room as I get dressed and ready to go out.

A space heater is a godsend if you are sensitive to cold and don’t have, or want to use, your central heating system. Just look at the last couple of winter time bills and it will be easy to decide. I want to cut those bills in half. I am getting there each month.

Avoiding Winter Skin Damage

I am outside a lot riding my horse and I am not going to give up this practice just because it is cold. I don’t want to become a prisoner of my own home. Sure, the indoor heating is nice, but it dries out my skin so badly. I spend a fortune on lotions and creams. Come summer I switch to sunscreen and moisturizer alone. Meanwhile I am fighting the effects of the dry air caused by the heating system. I don’t want to get wrinkled because of this so I am opting for the best humidifier I can find. They are not air purifiers. That is a different gadget. So is a dehumidifier which pulls moisture out of the air when it is humid. A humidifier plain and simple emits moisture by contrast. If your sinuses hurt, you may need this wonderful appliance. It helps most everyone.

I am buying a medium size unit so it covers the entire house and I don’t need to put one in every room as I do with a space heater. You fill the tank with water (you can get them up to a gallon) and watch this marvel work. Your skin should feel better in a day or two. You can use lighter weight creams as a result and the wrinkles will be kept at bay. I love to give out advice on practical issues, especially if I can attest to the efficacy of what I suggest. I use the humidifier for at least a couple of hours each day. Most of the time this is enough. The device is energy efficient and saves money on utilities, which is characteristic of new models these days of anything from a toaster oven to a blender. It is always about the environment and saving our dwindling resources. I am not a nut about ecology, but frankly, if they wanted to do away with cars and have people ride horses, I would be the first. I could adapt in a second. Did I mention that I already have a divine equine creature?

My friends have been commenting that my face looks nice. They say my skin texture is smooth and silky. I credit my trusty humidifier for this effect. If it breaks down, I am in trouble; but it won’t happen as I got a top appliance. I suggest that anyone with a similar problem gives it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised. Speaking of saving money, you won’t have to buy all those creams. Even if you aren’t on a budget, why not save if you can in principal. I hear that you can get a used humidifier that is only a year old at some hardware and appliance stores. This is recycling in an area that you would not expect. If new is the only type you want there are many brands like Crane, Vornado, Dyson, Aircare, and more. Some are ultrasonic and some have an evaporative console. It is all about price.

Biking Around Mackinac

I love my mountain bike. I can hit the trails at home or I can take it with me to Mackinac Island on one of my seasonal visits. I love the scenery and the views of the lake. You can’t beat the verdant greenery and the quaint architecture. No wonder it is a major Michigan tourist attraction. I prefer biking to a boat ride any day, but the latter is most common. You can’t drive a car so you better think about your method of transportation. For me it is the bike. You can take it anywhere there is a road or some kind of access. I like dirt trails as much as paved. I want to explore the island and each time I go, I find something different. It is fun to go with a friend with whom you can share meals, long talks, walks, and adventure. People ask me, where are you going on vacation this summer and I inevitably answer, Mackinac Island.

You can take your bike on the ferry or you can rent one when you get there. It is easy as so many shops sell and rent them out. Biking as you can imagine is super popular given that no cars are allowed. If you are not a bike aficionado, you will soon be after a day outside in the sunshine. I can spend hours touring the island, stopping only for a rest at lunch. I either take something with me or try a local café. I don’t mind playing tourist so I attend yacht races and festivals—anything special that is scheduled. It all makes for great picture taking. Check out my account on Instagram. It is loaded with images of this magical place. Island life is unique and only a few of us get to try it. I have been going since I was a child. In fact, I learned to ride horses here. It inspired me to get my own as an adult.

A mountain bike is an all-around good choice but you can rent any kind you are used to and like. I want something reliable, easy to fix, and comfortable. The seat is the most important culprit in making you sore. I don’t want anything to cut into my day and prompt me to stop riding and go back to the hotel. I do like to walk around so it wouldn’t be a tragedy. There is a lot to see on the island. You can wander the residential neighborhoods, stroll the main streets in town, and chat with the locals. We all share a love of the island.

While biking in town, I discovered the most wonderful candy store. I stopped to check out the fudge, my favorite sugary confection. They had at least thirty kinds. It was tough, but I settled only for rock road. It was a great snack and I didn’t mind the calories as I had burned up a couple hundred already that morning.

Bicycle Maintenance Tips

How I love Mackinac Island. I call it my stomping ground. I have been going there since I was a kid with my family. I never miss the Festival of the Horse. Imagine a place where cars never replaced the horse and carriage. I love the pairing of the rhythm of horse-clops and the waves. It is a magical place for sure and you don’t have to go far—say to Hawaii or Tahiti. It is right here in the US. In addition to the carriages that are coveted by the tourists, you can also ride a bike. It is the most common mode of transportation. If go roam far afield, you must know how to take care of it in preparation for long rides, and what to do if you have a flat. Keeping a bicycle in tip-top shade means oiling the chain, securing any lose parts, testing the brakes, and using an air compressor to maintain the proper air pressure. Bike tires are easy to inflate at home or on the road.

I know all this because I found myself in a flat tire dilemma one lazy afternoon as I was hitting the local bike trails without advanced preparation. I did not have my air compressor with me so I just had to wait for help, which took what seemed like a very long hour. One after another, cyclists rode by and didn’t stop. I was about to start shouting. I suppose it was because they were in a hurry or thought I was just resting. I wished that I had a “help” sign. Finally, a kind soul with an air compressor saved the day. I will try to remember to bring it along next time. I lost some time but not enough to deter me from continuing on my chosen path. I love being outdoors. My preference is to be on horseback, but a bike is a close second. I own a horse and tend to its needs myself. I take better care of it apparently than my bike. I have learned my lesson. As much as I ride my bike, I have never had a mishap. You start assuming that nothing will ever happen. Don’t kid yourself.

On a bike, you are mobile and can see the glorious scenery of Mackinac Island. People call it the jewel of the Great Lakes for good reason. It is a very special place. The vistas are incredible. Then you can stop for a bite in a local café or to shop in the many quaint stores. At night, the island is transformed as people come out to enjoy the happening music and to patronize the lively bar scene. If you are in the area and want a terrific vacation, join me on Mackinac Island. There is something for everyone. They celebrate Halloween with glee, have yacht races, a lilac festival, and Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race. Come join the fun.

Cougar Sighting!

I work in a barn because I like to be near horses. I have my own and love riding with a passion. I learned to ride on Mackinac Island when I was a child and my attachment to horses has never left me. Sometimes unexpected things happen at the barn. Animals get lose, strangers wander in, food is missing. I can’t imagine what else goes on when I am not there. Recently, we had some cougar sighting scares. These are dangerous animals. You don’t want them around your pets and never want to approach them. The owners of the barn are concerned and have checked their gun safe. Yes, there is a rifle inside. They check it for its working condition and whether or not it is loaded. The safe is in the barn so we are ready for a cougar invasion. I know how to shoot so I could be the one to save the animals from attack.

Guns should not be lying about so I was glad that the rifle was secure. The safe operates with a combination lock and I know the numbers. I could open the safe in a jiffy. I am responsible about weapons so I never take chances. I would prefer that the owner do the dirty deed of shooting the cougar should it invade our private space. Sometimes the sightings are far away but these animals are known to travel great distances and they are not afraid of people. They have even been seen in suburbs where kids play in the street. More than one local family has a gun safe like these.

If the cougar wanders at night, it is important to keep the barn door closed to deter entry. I certainly would not want to meet this creature of the wild face to face. I worry about the animals and would feel terrible if they were approached or attacked. They get very frightened and can’t eat for days after they see an alien in their midst. I would be destroyed if anything happened to my horse. All you can do, however, is secure your premises including your yard and keep a rifle on hand if you are really concerned. Listen to the sightings—it could be a cougar or a mountain lion—and create a plan. Don’t worry about deer. They are often spotted in the hills and sometimes they come down into residential areas adjacent to the mountains. They are not dangerous and you would feel bad if you made the mistake of hunting this delicate animal.

I don’t believe in hunting for its own sake but if you are threatened, you or your property, I can see that it is justified. This is a personal decision you must make. If you grow up with guns as I have, and you know how to use them, it may be an easier choice. The problem is that there are so many reported accidents. You need to teach your family about gun safety and the important role of a gun safe.