Wedding Wednesday: Food

Somehow, my wedding is only 5 months away! Yikes! I feel like we still have a lot to get done, even though I had a semi-productive weekend of chatting with a florist at Whole Foods about table centerpieces and inquiring about custom mint julep fudge for favors from a local business.
The venue is also doing the catering for us, and we meet with them in about two months to discuss what we’d like on the menu. We’re planning to have 2 or 3 passed hors d’oeuvres for the cocktail hour during which the Derby will be broadcast, as well as having a buffet-style dinner for our guests.
While I imagine the venue will have some suggestions, I’d like to have an idea of what type of food we’re interested in before we meet.
At the annual Derby party, I typically go nuts on hors d’oeuvres; I don’t serve a dinner. Previous years’ offerings have included fruit skewers with sweet dip, deviled eggs, pasta salad cups, pimento cheese with crackers, buffalo chicken spring rolls, spinach artichoke dip, crudités, and, of course bourbon chocolate pecan pie. 
I could eat ALL the deviled eggs.

Since I obviously won’t be the one doing the cooking this year, I’m exploring more creative hors d’oeuvres options. I’d love to do miniature hot browns, like these found on Epicurious:

It speaks to me.

These watercress canapés from Southern Living are beautiful: 

And every single one of these crostini recipes is mouthwatering:
Most of our guests are easy to please eaters, and I know no one’s coming just for the food. (They’re all coming for the mint juleps.) However, a few guests are vegan or have allergies like nuts or seafood. I understand you can’t please everyone and shouldn’t try, but I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re going home hungry. I’d love to hear your suggestions and feedback on that kind of thing!
I’d also love to hear your ideas on dinner options. Johnny’s mom has asked about ‘traditional’ Derby foods; my only thoughts on that are hot browns and burgoo, neither of which I care to serve for dinner. Johnny’s in favor of barbecue, but I’m afraid it’ll be a little messy for guests, what with all the sauce. (Maybe I’m paranoid because I can’t make it through a meal without getting something on myself.)
What do y’all think? Have you had some truly awful wedding dinners? Do you even remember the food? What about really excellent meals?

Watching grass grow

Dressage isn’t my favorite phase of three-day eventing, but I’ve sort of grudgingly accepted it as a thing over the last couple of years. This is entirely due to the influence of my dressage-minded friends. My sometimes-trainer Anne (who I wish was my all-the-time-trainer) is a dressage guru who has pushed me to do more and to appreciate what dressaging does for my jumping. (Hint: it makes it better!) My friend Richal, along with her gaggle of minions/students, has peer-pressured me into joining the local GMO and showing on the schooling show circuit. It’s a vicious cycle. At the rate I’m going, I’ll forget how to jump by the time spring rolls around.

“Only one of us needs work on dressage, lady, and it isn’t me.”

Something I saw more than once in the judge’s comments on last year’s tests was the mention of the need to better prepare the horse for transitions. For some reason, alerting Gina to an upcoming change didn’t really occur to me; I mean, I figured if I, like…gave the appropriate cue at the appropriate time, Gina would canter. Or halt. Or walk. Whatever. I don’t know. But in the spirit of improving ourselves (and our scores), I’ve been diligently giving tiny little half-halts before every transition. At first, Gina seemed a little confused about what I wanted her to do; she’s a smart horse, though, and quickly figured out that the tiny half-halt was simply my way of getting her attention before asking her to do something different. This morning, in the freezing cold, under the glare of the indoor arena lights, we had our best upward canter transitions since I can remember. 

“Puh-leeze, I can dressage in my sleep.”
I’m reading through How Good Riders Get Good, Denny Emerson’s riding manifesto. In it, he retells the story of a rider participating in a dressage clinic who became frustrated and impatient. The clinician said, “You go out and mow your lawn, correct? Then what do you do? Do you sit and watch it grow? No, of course not. But in two weeks, you have to go out and mow it again, no?”

That story was a good reminder for me: riding and training horses (and yourself!) is a long game. But with enough time, the grass will grow.

“I’m going to eat any grass that grows.”

Friday Five

I’m not totally sure I’m ready for the return of normalcy and the five day work week after the holidays- it’s been pretty great having Johnny home to hang out and eat lunch with and I don’t think anyone dislikes having an extra day off. Ah, well- all good things must come to an end!

Here’s what’s been on my radar this week:

ONE Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires



Ever since I read a write-up of Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires on the digital magazine Bitter Southerner, I’ve been meaning to check out their music. I finally put it on play this week, and I’m so glad I did. It’s fiery, slightly twangy rock & roll full of great imagery and insight about the South. Dereconstructed is available to listen to on Spotify, so there’s no reason not to check it out.

TWO What Are The Best Breeches For You?

Let’s face it: breeches aren’t always a flattering garment. Some things that affect our ability to look good in skin-tight stretchy pants are beyond our control, but Dressage Different’s guide is a great place to start in the quest for the something that doesn’t make you look like a sausage.

THREE Cavalor Leather Shine

Confession time: I’m not overly picky about my leather care products. I have a vast array of them at home and feel like I use a different product every time I clean my tack. A couple of months ago I received a sample of Cavalor Leather Shine in my monthly Horse Box. I used it to clean my dressage saddle, then rode it in the next day. Whoa. If you’re looking for something that makes your tack just slightly grippy, this is it. My saddle didn’t feel sticky to the touch, but once I got on, it felt like I was wearing full seat breeches. I’m making this stuff a regular addition to my saddle cleaning equipment!
I like making resolutions and setting goals, but sometimes, I get a little too vague or way too specific. This guide on setting effective goals and forming a strategy to achieve them is great. It essentially boils down to asking yourself why you want to accomplish something, and using that as a motivator. Good advice!
FIVE Whole30
I started my second Whole30 yesterday, and I’m really excited about it. Last March, Johnny and I completed a Whole30; both of us felt great about ourselves and the way we felt and looked. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a sort of nutritional reset eating program. For a month, you eliminate sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol, and legumes. Many people use it to discover food sensitivities and allergies. While Johnny and I don’t seem to have those, we both found that we felt more energetic, lighter, and mentally better when we left those things out of our diets. It also helped us control how often we ate out, which was a huge help to our health and our wallets. (Don’t ask me about how often I dreamed of Whataburgers.) We’re back on track with clean eating and I’m super pumped. (Ask me how I feel three weeks from now, when I can’t bear to make my own mayonnaise or eat another banana with almond butter.)

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year, friends! 2014 was a great year, and I’m excited for 2015.

I accomplished exactly zero of my December goals. But I’m currently full of optimism for the new year and what I can accomplish. Here’s a smattering of goals in no particular order:

  • Read 50 new books this year. I tried this year last and fell just shy- I read 41. I’ve got a “to read” list that’s about 40 books long; unfortunately, my local library doesn’t offer any of them as e-books, so I’ll either have to spend money, find different books, or take myself to the library to check out hard copies.
  • Ride 4 times per week. This is generally pretty doable if I get myself out of bed at 5 AM or so. All the riding will be good for me, and good for the horses.
  • Complete Couch to 5K (again) and complete a 5K. I finished the whole 9-week C25K program last summer and promptly stopped jogging once I got a job. I don’t really enjoy running, but I definitely enjoy it if there’s some kind of end game like a 5K. (Plus, t-shirts!)
  • Compete in a recognized event with Gina. This goal is a little trickier, as I don’t have a trailer to haul myself to shows. The only recognized event in Oklahoma is a 2 hour drive away; the closest events in Texas are 5+ hours away. I don’t want to ask a friend to haul me that far and none of my friends have bumper-pull trailers. However, Johnny and I are diligently planning for horse trailer acquisition soon.
  • Enjoy the wedding process. I’m a party person. I’m a people person. I’m thrilled at the prospect of celebrating the Kentucky Derby with friends and family. But I’ve done a terrible job of enjoying the process of planning the wedding. Between now and May 2, I want to become more involved, think of it more positively, and be grateful that I get to have such a cool wedding.
I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone’s 2015 goals! I’ve always loved New Year’s- it feels like a time to reset and refresh. I’m wishing y’all all the best this year, and can’t wait to read about your adventures.