Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Snapshot - Smoky Mountain Stables

The family and I headed to the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg TN last week for a long family weekend.  We actually lived in TN for several years, and our first two daughters were even born there, but somehow we never made it to this popular tourist destination for many, especially Southerners.

If you've visited my blog or FB page for even 5 minutes, I don't have to tell you that I'm an animal lover.  If you go to Gatlinburg, there are many touristy things to do, go-kart rides, shows to see, shopping to be done, etc. but my husband planned some very natural things for us to do, including a ride through Cades Cove where we witnessed deer and BEARS in their natural habitats...yes, I said BEARS.

But, the most fabulous memorable experience of all was horseback riding at Smoky Mountain Stables!

Here we are before the ride

Me on my buddy Big Ben :) Truly he was the biggest of all the horses (6 ft. tall), and even though I'm not a new rider, I was a little intimidated when I realized he was mine for the next hour.  But, Ben was as gentle as could possibly be...such a smart fella too :)

The firstborn was the only one of us who had never ridden before and she was nervous...she's quite the thinker and tried to overthink the ride at times rather than just relaxing and moving with her horse.  I rode right behind her so she provided unexpected humor.

My middle daughter helped take care of a friend's horses in the pasture behind our house for over a year so she was very comfortable with her horse.  Here she's posing...what's with teenage girls these days and that crazy lean to, fake smile pose...have you seen it??

I like this one much better

My little cowpoke...cutest thing ever...was also very comfortable on her horse, Gravy.

And, of course, bringing up the rear...cause somebody has to...the old man...who, although not a horse ingenue by any stretch, seemed to be a little uncomfortable at times.  Ahem, I wonder if it's easier for women to ride horses than men..ahem. :/

At the last minute I grabbed my camera and slung it around my neck...5 minutes into the ride, the trail guide's horse got spooked by a BEAR right off the trail with my little cowpoke right behind him.  He quickly and professionally regained control of both horses and motioned for us to sit still and quiet...which, of course, we did.  We watched Mr. Bear lope along right beside the trail going in the opposite direction.
Can you say Gulp?
After Mr. Bear moved a little more into the bushes, my husband said, "Did you take a picture?"
"Um, was I supposed to? I was a little preoccupied."

Here we are after the ride with a few of the guys from the stables.  I'm gonna go ahead and tout the South for those of you who've never been here before.
All stereotypes put aside, you won't find a nicer bunch of folks.  And, sure we have the drawl thing going on for us...but it's so nice to be around just regular people sometimes.  People who aren't worried what others think of them and who honor and respect the beauty in the world around them.

I have lots of photos like this one bc I was taking them while Big Ben and I were making our way along the trail.

Great, Great Memories!!

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Reads Giveaway Hop! July 6-11

*****The WINNER of last week's Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop at Peppermint Ph.D. is Marlene Breakfield over at Book Lover and Procrastinator!
Congrats Marlene! I've sent you an email, so please respond within 48 hours.

When I added my name to the Linky for my 2nd giveaway in 3 years and my first giveaway hop, the Freedom to Read Giveaway, I honestly had no idea what to expect.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I had a blast!!!!
The only negative of the entire experience was that I didn't get much reading done because I was so busy reading and conversing with my new friends!!! :)
So, of course, here I am again, ready to rock'n roll! :):)

In the previous giveaway, I asked for advice on giving used books as prizes and I was pleasantly overwhelmed with the thoughtful advice I received.  You guys rock!! 
So, for the Summer Reads Giveaway Hop, I want to ask another question. 
 I've been getting a lot of reading/blogging time this summer, mostly due to my work schedule as a community college writing professor.  I'm only teaching one online class this summer by choice which gives me more time for my own reading and writing activities.  Other bloggers are so busy during the summer that the blogosphere is a pretty quiet place many days.  Some days I've even felt like maybe I am the only one online..."Tap, Tap, is this thing on??"
Here's the question: What time of year do you get the most reading/blogging done? and Why?

For my mandatory entry, I'd be much obliged if you'd like my new Facebook page for Peppermint Ph.D.  I'm just getting it started, so there are only a few people to talk to so far 

If you don't "do" Facebook, then just give me a follow on GFC or Networked blogs.

If you're already a GFC or Networked blogs follower and a Facebook Liker, and/or don't have Facebook, you can follow me on Pinterest and that will count to.

If you're already a GFC or Networked blogs follower, Facebook liker and/or don't have a Facebook, don't do Pinterest and/or already follow me on Pinterest, just tell me in the comments section cause, good gravy, you deserve some kind of credit for hanging in there this far in the post! 

I'm offering another prize from Amazon, up to $20 for a book/books of your choice.  
Amazon and I are buddies, and I like to do business there.  Later on in the summer, I'll introduce you to my two favorite Mississippi indies, Square Books in Oxford and Lemuria in Jackson.
For now though, you can browse Amazon and let me know what you've selected after you win! :)

Please include your email and blog address in the comments section so I'll be able to contact you.  Nothing worse than winning a prize and never knowing about it :(
The winner will be announced on the afternoon of July 12 and will have 48 hours to respond to my email.  After that time, I'll have to choose another winner.  
My girls and I will choose the winner via names in a hat...we're sorta old fashioned that way :)

And, now for the not so fine print:
Summer Reads Giveaway Hop 
Hosted by
Co-hosted by 
Rex Robot Reviews
July 6th to 11th
You must host a giveaway on your site, you are responsible for obtaining a prize for giveaway and taking care of the shipping charges.
You must giveaway something a reader, author or blogger would enjoy.
Your giveaway post must include the hop image & linky (or links to the hosts' sites if you can't get the linky to work).
Please only 1 mandatory entry - Up to 4 optional entries. No more than 5 entries total.
Your post must be live by 12:01 EST on July 6th. (That is 9 pm July 5th if you live in California)
The giveaway must be specifically for this hop.
Your site must be family friendly - no erotica or 18+ sites. Your site & giveaway must be free of steamy images and book covers. If it would embarrass me to have my teenagers see it, it can't be on your site.
It is your responsibility to check the linky on July 6th to be sure you are still on the linky and that your link is accurate.
If you are using Rafflecopter set it to begin on JULY 5th and to end on JULY 12th. The top right corner can only say 5 possible entries so do not use the point values +4, +5, +10 + 25, etc.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July Photo Session

Quick Reminder: 

Today is the last day to enter the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop!
The hop ends at midnight tonight!

4th of July Photo Session

After seeing Cheryl Goede's incredible 4th of July photos of her German Shepherd and Beligian Malinois, my girls and I decided to see what kind of "family" photos we could accomplish with our trio of canine happiness.
After a trip to Wal-Mart for an American flag and some patriotic bandanas, my firstborn dressed our dogs for their photo session.
Surprisingly, all 3 were game for the unusual addition to their neck finery :)  However, all 3 were not so fired up about having their pictures made together.
Before I share the resulting pics, here are some lessons we learned from our 4th of July photo session:

1.  Appreciate the heck out of photos with animals sitting right next to each other looking straight at the camera.  Didn't even come close to happening at my house.  Even with a kid or two in the photo holding the subjects, it was impossible to keep them still enough.

2.  Layla, my GSD, is a control freak.  She felt compelled to keep the other subjects in the photos in line.  
"Be still for Mama! She wants to take our picture! Can't you quit wiggling (Lizzie, Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel) and hopping (Hermione, mix) for one second??"

3.  Too many "helping hands" does not help.  The best pictures I took yesterday were when the Layla, Hermione, Lizzie and I went to the front yard by ourselves.  The wind was blowing, it was cloudy and quiet. and I let them just mosey around on their own and snapped whatever happened.  

4.  Lizzie meant it when she said she didn't want to stand poolside.  Our Lizzie fell into the pool this winter and would have drowned if it hadn't been for Lassie wannabe Layla who alerted us to the impending tragedy.  We have since taught Lizzie to swim and every few days drop her in the water on purpose to make sure she remembers how to swim to the steps, but other than that, she wants no part of the pool.  I swear I thought I was going to have to give her doggie Xanax when we tried to pose them in front of the blue water.

5.  Hermione is camera shy.  You'll notice in the pics below that there is only 1 with her actually in the photo.  Once we went to the front yard for photos, Hermione just disappeared.  Since she was a rescue in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and we don't know much about her background, it makes me wonder if she's in the Witness Protection Program  :/

6.  Last but certainly not least, all photos must be taken before the fireworks begin.  See the photo below of my ferocious (yeah, right) GSD curled in a fetal ball wrapped in a Cubs blanket for security once the bombs started "bursting in air" last night.

Hope your day was as lovely as mine! :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!!!!

The handsome fellas (Havok and Khaos) in this photo belong to Cheryl and Kevin Goede over at The German Shepherd Dog Community on Facebook.
They're proud to be Americans and so am I :)

Have a great day everybody!

And, don't forget the Freedom to Read giveaway hop which wraps up tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Go Rest High, Andy

I've been so blown away by all the new friends stopping by as part of the Freedom to Read giveaway hop that I haven't posted in a few days.  

The family and I left for a long weekend in the Smoky Mountains right after the hop began, and returned home just yesterday to grocery shopping, bill paying and getting ready for the 4th of July.  
I was working on a post this morning about our incredible horseback riding adventure through the mountains when I heard about Andy Griffith's death.  
My husband is a lifelong lover of The Andy Griffith show and can spout off all kinds of quotes, songs, name it, he remembers it.  Our oldest daughter, as a toddler would "dance" by bouncing up and down ANY time she heard the iconic theme song.  
Boy those are some great memories.

It seems only fitting to sing this song this morning...and did you know that there actually were lyrics to the whistled tune?  Here's Andy singing and whistling a song we'll never forget.

To say good-bye, Vince Gill's song Go Rest High on That Mountain is particularly fitting for a man who gave us so much hope and laughter, through stories about a simpler life and time.

Rest in Peace, Andy