Friday Favs – It’s Been Quite A Week!

Friday Favs – It’s Been Quite A Week!

Happy Friday, friends! This has been a crazy week! I’m going to do a sort of combined favs/catch-up post.


1. As you already know, I am a gold star Cat Lady. I had literally been back in Missouri for 2 weeks after moving back from Florida when a cat jumped the fence in my back yard and was like, “I live here now.” My outdoor cat adopted two stray kittens when I was in Florida once, and when one of them popped out five babies before she looked old enough to get pregnant, I “totally was not going to keep any of them”… LOL FOREVER.

You could probably drop me off on Mars and a tiny space cat would wander up and curl up in my lap. Life, uh, finds a way.


10000% my life.

So the other night, I kept hearing what I thought was a bird, but when I went into the kitchen it became clear that it was a cat. On my back deck. I did a quick glance around like, “Did someone manage to get outside??” but nope. I slipped out the door and there was a little kitten with a white tip on his tail. He freaked out and ran, and then JUMPED OFF THE DECK. After getting over the, “Oh shit, did he just commit kitty suicide?” I went down and checked and he was ok. Little dude was clearly in a panic so I got a can of food and took him a plate. It took a minute, but hunger overcame fear and he came up and ate. If I’d even move a hand, he’d run off a few feet, but then come back to the food.

Since I already have indoor cats, there’s no way I could bring a strange cat in for the night, so I figured the best I could do was fill his belly up, make sure there was water, and then see what I could do for him if he was still there in the morning.


Long story short…



He came back the next night, so apparently this was a thing I was dealing with now. The morning after that, I posted on the local yard sale group and regional lost and found page on FB to see if anyone had lost a kitten. He’s so clean and floofy and after getting over his initial fear, was loving and wanted in the house. Definitely an indoor guy. I also posted on my personal Facebook to see if anyone local might be interested in him if I didn’t find his owner.

Day 4, he’s already on the back porch for breakfast. This was the first time he’d been up before like 9 p.m. I called the local shelter to see if I could bring him in, but they have a THREE MONTH waiting list. I asked the guy on the phone if he knew any other local shelters or rescues, and he told me to just Google it. Thanks, dude.

There’s a large ASPCA up in Springfield, but they aren’t no-kill. Between being you and cute and polydactyl (he has thumbs!) I had a feeling this guy would get adopted quick, but the idea of chancing it worried me. I contacted a cat rescue there, too, but they already had 200 cats in foster homes they were trying to find homes for, so no luck. I reached out to a friend who is a vet at a fairly large practice there, and she said they sometimes have a couple of kittens up for adoption in their waiting room. She said I could bring him up and as long as he was negative for feline leukemia and FIV, he could stay there until he found a forever home. YAY!!!

That brings us to yesterday It was super stormy in the morning, so I drove him up around noon. I spent quite a bit of time that morning playing with him and basically saying goodbye. Even though it’s only been a few days, I got attached quickly. It’s just how I roll. He threw about a five-minute temper tantrum in the car, and then slept the rest of the hour drive. GOOD BOY.

My friend gave him a quick physical exam, agreed with my guess that he’s about 4-5 months old, and then took him back to get a blood sample for his tests. That took about 10 minutes, and then I waited with him in the exam room for about 10 more while we waited for the results. He was thrilled just to be held and cuddled for so long, so he had zero complaints.

But then the FIV test came back positive. My vet friend said that sometimes running them a certain way can cause a false positive, so she took another blood sample to be sure, and we had that 10 minute wait again, but this one felt super long.

Positive again. They couldn’t put him in with the other adoptable kittens, he’d have to come back home with me.

The good news is that FIV has a way worse reputation than the reality. It’s mainly transmitted by biting, and there’s very little chance this tiny guy is going to go bite one of my big outdoor cats. (I showed him to them when I got home to establish “This is a friend, we like him.” and the boys gave him a quick sniff and then walked away uninterested.) I put up a temporary door across the deck stairs so that he’s kind of barricaded in, and nothing else can get it. It’s not ideal by any means, but it’s the best I can do for now. He has about 80 square feet to himself with food and water and a litter box (which he was smart enough to use already!), so hopefully it will work until I can find him a new home.

The other good thing I discovered is that often, if the mother of a cat had FIV, the kitten can test positive for it until the antibodies clear out of their system at around 6 months of age. So there’s a solid chance he’s not carrying it at all, and if we retest him in a month or two he’ll be clear. That’s *fantastic* news, but it also means I might be taking care of him for significantly longer than I planned. And that means getting way more attached.

On one hand, I am so, so thankful that this little guy was smart enough to find me. I’m about 95% convinced that someone just dumped him nearby, possibly after learning his diagnosis and not wanting to deal with it. There is a special place in hell for that kind of person. That said, when you live in an area with ONE animal shelter that has a three month waiting list, there’s a deeper problem. We have one local vet that offers a low cost neuter and rabies shot once a year, but I wish more places did that, and more often. If I find a stray kitten and I’m willing to drive like two hours to take him to a shelter/rescue and also happy to pay them to take him, I shouldn’t be met with all closed doors. This little guy deserves so much more than the hand he’s been dealt. Every kitty deserves a safe home and someone to pet them. I will find this guy his, even if it means keeping him for a couple of months.

Oh, and yeah, when we were at the vet I was about 10 minutes away from the Walmart Neighborhood Market where an off duty officer tackled a dude who was loading up a rifle for a shooting spree.



2. We have two free range donkeys where I work trail rides, and it always cracks me up when we run across them while riding. Right after we passsed by them here, Hershey (the big one in the foreground) started rolling in the dirt. Guests loved it. Good job, donkey!

I’m working there tomorrow, but the forecast is for rain and storms so who knows? I love my horses but I am so over this heat and humidity.


3. I posted about enjoying Iliza Shlesinger’s Netflix specials on a Friday Favs a month or so ago, but now I’m hooked on her podcast, Ask Iliza Anything. Definitely recommend if you want something to listen to in the car as a way to de-stress after work or something!




4. I got to ride my instructor’s Endurance horse, Targa, for my lesson on Monday. It was like 90 degrees, and by the time we finished (in the indoor arena no less!) my t-shirt was totally soaked in sweat. We worked hard! But I’m improving. I pulled up a video of Charlotte Dujardin riding at the FEI finals and studied, and that definitely made some lightbulbs go off. THAT’s what my elbows are supposed to be doing! THAT’s what she means by “knees back and down”. 487435 more years of this and I might get it!

On that note, one of my New Years Resolutions was to spend 100 hours in the saddle this year. Of course, at the time I thought I’d be going back to my trial ride job in March, and instead I ended up not finding a new one until June. As a result, I’m currently at like 27 hours of riding so far this year, which will probably be 30 by the end of the weekend since I work tomorrow. It’s funny – I feel like I’m riding all the dang time, but I guess that I only rode once or twice before May? Time goes too fast. I’ll probably be working even less after labor day, so there’s a good chance I won’t come close to my goal, but it has been interesting to track!


5. I gave myself an “off” day last week and spent an hour or so just hanging out by the lake. I go to the lake all the time, but I usually either go for a long walk or sit by the water to write – I never just spread out a towel and get some sun on my pale legs. (Side note – it’s so rocky down there that laying by the water is generally not comfy! I had to pick out the least rocky spot I could find and still had a couple poking me through the towel.) (Side note of a side note – I recently got into an argument with a friend when we were watching The Office and they talk about having a beach day and then go to the lake. I was obviously like WTF, the lake does not count as a beach. That is crazy talk. He argued that it does count. Clearly he is unhinged. Beach = Ocean. Sand. Waves. Not lake. Please take my side in this and validate me.)

I laughed so hard because after like 45 minutes of laying there, I finally looked up and there were vultures circling overhead. They were probably after a fish someone left lying around or something, but I found it hilarious to think that I’d been lying there like a blob for so long that they assumed I was dead.


Busy weekend ahead as usual, but hopefully next week will be a little more chill? Maybe? Who knows.

Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything.

Friday Favs – Summer Vibes

Friday Favs – Summer Vibes



Happy Friday, friends! I can’t believe it’s August. Strangely, it’s a lot cooler than July so far! The last day I worked trail rides, which was 2 weeks ago, it was 97 degrees with a heat index of 108 and I was pretty sure I was gonna die by 9 a.m. Thankfully it’s only supposed to be 86 and maybe rainy tomorrow, so I’m hopeful for a good day!


Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:


1. Target has some absurdly cute notebooks in the back to school section! I grabbed these two:



Here’s hoping for some great clearance deals after school starts so I can grab more without feeling guitly! The one on the right is kinda iridescent/holographic looking, and as for the other one… who can resist cat unicorns? NOT I.


2. I finally got to try reiki after wanting to for years. My crazy hippie church has a healing/meditation night where different healing practitioners offer their services from massage with crystals to reiki to a weird mat you sit on that’s supposed to help your circulation. It’s very weird to lie on a table while several people either have their hands on you or near you, but I felt really good afterwards! Really want to try the massage next time.


3. Siri sent me the wrong way after my riding lesson on Monday, but it worked out really well! The barn where I’m learning dressage is part of the public parks system, and it turns out it’s just around the corner from this:



I need to go back on a day that’s not a billion degrees when I have more time to walk around. It looks like there’s a trail around the whole lake, so that’s on my to-do list!

Speaking of dressage lessons – it’s hard but fun. So different from anything I’ve done. Louie spooked at a BUTTERFLY that day. He’s fun. Actually, I learned that so far I’m the only student there allowed to ride him since he’s considered an advanced horse. That made me feel pretty rad, even though most of the students are kids or super beginners. They’ve been having horse camp and have a few junior high aged kids there as junior counselors to help out. As I was getting Louie ready for my last lesson, one of them asked me how long I’ve been riding. She was definitely NOT expecting the “Um… about 30 years?” answer.


That’s Louie in the foreground, about to get a bath. I love the serious side-eye the horse in the next stall (Harry) is giving him because he just saw him get a treat.聽


I think I might be riding a different horse on Monday – Louie is coming off or a career as a Western Pleasure show horse, so between that and his overall hotness/spookiness he’s not *ideal* for me to work on for dressage. He gave me a cute little Western Pleasure lope when I asked for a trot, which was adorable, but also one of the worst things that could happen in a dressage test. I’m excited to keep learning!



4. I get Mel Robbins’s email newsletter, and a recent one was titled, “The price of your new life is your old one.” That hit me so hard and I haven’t stopped thinking about it for over a week.



5. I somehow had NO idea that if you download the ABC Go app, you can watch all but the most recent episode of shows without having a paid TV subscription. I binge watched most of the latest season of the Bachelorette this week (The finale isn’t available for 5 more days. ARRGH.)- I’ve missed terrible reality TV!


Hope your weekend is lovely! Since I’m working trail rides Saturday and thrift store Sunday, I don’t have much of a “weekend” per se, but given that I spent most of Tues-Thurs watching the Bachelorette while playing Gardenscapes, I don’t really *need* another break. That said, I’d be totally down for a VERY chill trail ride day!

Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything

Friday Favs

Friday Favs

Happy Friday, friends!




1. I could rant about the crazy rainy trail ride work day I had last weekend, but this is a favs post, not a rant post, so I’ll tell you about the good parts: I rode a horse named Comanche (above) who I’ve been wanting to ride and totally LOVED him. I was leading and had a young boy behind me who was super nervous but who said that when I talked to him it made him less nervous, so I kept him chatting the whole ride. I promised him that his horse would take good care of him, that by the end he’d love him. As it usually goes, he did. In fact, when the threatening thunder that had echoed through the hills our entire ride finally turned into a downpour as I was getting the guests off their horses, he actually WAITED IN THE POURING RAIN until I was done dismounting the guests so he could have extra time to pet his horse. That’s love, yo.

I also finally got to ride Taffy the mule this week and I love her! Despite riding almost my entire life, I’d never ridden a mule so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she’s one of my favorites now!




2. I went to a fair in Springfield last Friday that had all kinds of cool vendors and booths. I wasn’t planning to spend any money there, but I passed by a tarot card reader and was drawn like a magnet to a cool-looking deck on her table. I paused and mentioned it and she invited me to check out the artwork on the cards. She was so nice and welcoming that I decided to go ahead and get a card reading – I’ve been in such a weird phase of transition that I was curious to see what would come up! I wound up choosing a different deck than the one that caught my eye, but EVERYTHING wound up being so on point!! Like the top left card was supposed to refer to the recent past, and the part at the bottom says “Clear the past, heal the present.” And when I first sat down I mentioned that I was in a time of major transitions, so which card did I draw for a summary of my current situation? That “Transformation” one in the center.

Wish I’d gotten a better pic of the cards – the artwork was really pretty!


3. From trail rides to dressage – I got to ride a new horse for my lesson on Monday! This is Louie – he’s an Arabian and definitely an “advanced” horse. He made me work, but that’s what I need to improve! I was going to take pics at the barn to show you guys how nice and organized it is, but it started pouring rain after my lesson so that will have to wait until next time!


4. My neighbor got me hooked on playing Homescapes. Well, technically when I asked him about the game he was playing, he said it was Gardenscapes, so I downloaded that and got addicted to it before realizing it was slightly different from the one he was playing. So now I’m addicted to both.


Calling it at 4 items this week because I have an event to get to! Tomorrow is trail rides in 90 degree heat, but then I have a chill but hopefully productive week ahead! Have a great weekend!


Linking up with Bright On A Budget and A Little Bit of Everything.

Friday Favs – Catching Up

Friday Favs – Catching Up


It’s been a rollercoaster of a month over here at Casa Crystal. I went through a breakup from something that wasn’t even technically a real relationship, which was surprisingly SUPER painful. I’ve been cleaning the house like crazy. My new car got side-swiped in a parking lot. I went to church for the first time in like… 20 years?? (It’s a super liberal hippie church where they started by singing “Let Your Love Flow” by the Bellamy Brothers. My kind of place.) I reconnected with an old friend, and catching up has made me super happy. And I’ve been learning a lot through it all. Eventually I’ll get around to writing about THAT, but for now I’ll share what I’ve been into lately!




1. I worked my second and third full days at the new trail ride job since I last posted. Spent both days on Bailey again – I think we’re bonding.聽 I did 3 1/2 out of the four rides the first day, which is pretty uncommon with three people working. On the second one the heat kinda got to me so I asked to sit the third ride of the day out, and then they didn’t need me for the fourth one, so a really chill day!

Despite a few months of being a trail guide at a different place last year, I’d never taken a ride out solo before, so when I was asked to do that on my second day I totally panicked and begged my coworker to follow along in the back to make sure I didn’t get totally lost and wind up in Arkansas or something. I was surprised that I only had to ask her about which way to go a couple of times, and I was able to take the next group out solo without freaking out. YAY ME. It’s so hard to learn the trail when you’re riding in the back because you’re so focused on taking care of your guests – I just had to get up front and actually DO it once to figure out where I was going.

I’m working two days a week in July, and I’m a little nervous about how HOT it’s going to be! The trail is mostly shaded, but our barn doesn’t have electricity, so there’s no cooling off between rides. The last couple of times I’ve worked it’s only been high 70s/low 80s but I’ve still gone through tons of water and sports drinks, so actual summer temps are a little scary. I’m working both days this weekend, and they’re both supposed to be sunny and 90. I’ve stocked up on Body Armor (it’s the only sports-type drink I can stand – the Peach Mango is my favorite and Target had the huge ones on sale for $1.19 last week, so I’m all set!) and big 1.5 liter bottles of Fiji water (I know, I’m fancy) so I hope I make it through! I need to find a way to bring ice packs to cool down with when the afternoon heat hits.

Any other suggestions for staying cool when doing physical labor in the heat and humidity? Besides hopping into the water trough between rides?


2. I totally binge watched Dating Around on Netflix last week. It’s a Netflix original reality dating show where one person goes on five blind dates and (usually) picks one person to go out with again. The episodes are all set up in the same format – drinks, dinner, sometimes a post-dinner activity, and the cab home. The people, however, are diverse – the first few are the sort of stereotypical dating show people – straight people in their late 20s/early 30s, but then there’s a gay man, an older man (I’m guessing 70s?), and a lesbian. It made me realize how rarely we see older people on any kind of dating show!

The episodes are basically just the dates themselves with nothing extra. It’s kind of the fun of a Bachelor-style picking one person from several without all of the drama – actual “reality”with regular people instead of crazy helicopter adventures with people who want to be famous. Makes it way more fun to watch the chemistry and try to guess who they will pick. I hope they do another season!



3. Back when I lived in Orlando, I used to go see local bands play several times a month. Since I’ve been back in Missouri, I don’t think I’ve gone AT ALL. Last weekend I wanted to get out of the house, so I picked a place at random and went to see some music there. The band specialized in late 90s/early 2o00s music which was a lot of fun. The show came close to getting rained out – they play at a bar/restaurant that’s right on the lake and the stage area is kinda covered but not really well enough to play if the weather gets bad. I did wind up dancing in the rain towards the end. It just seemed like way more fun than sitting. Although man, sitting next to that fire pit pictured above and sipping my drink was also pretty darn good.



4. This is Quigley, who I rode for my first dressage lesson this week! I’ve done just about every type of riding, but I’ve never done dressage so I finally found a barn near-ish me (a little over an hour away) and booked a lesson. I can already tell it’s going to be SO GOOD for me. Dressage involves SUPER subtle cues, and the barn really focuses on good horsemanship. They also have the most organized tack room I’ve ever seen! Everything is super clean and labeled and that makes life so easy. I can probably only manage lessons every other week right now, both in terms of time and money, but it’s fun to look forward to!


5. I’ve been wanting to get more vegetables into my diet but I’m basically a toddler in terms of being a picky eater. I can usually do green juice, though, so I grabbed one of these Suja green juice things a few days ago. This is BY FAR the best green juice I’ve had. I’m guessing it’s a bit heavier on the fruit than the vegetables, but still. They’re hard to find near me, so I need to grab like 6 next time I’m at that grocery store. Definitely recommend if you don’t usually like green juice!


I don’t have any writing work to do today (About every 6 months or all there’s a lull for a week or two) so I’m going to try to catch up on ALL THE THINGS before my crazy work weekend.

Have a great weekend!


Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything.

Friday Favs – Where Did May Go?

Friday Favs – Where Did May Go?

Happy Weekend, friends!

I’ve been so busy working to make my car down payment and afford the crazy taxes that I’ve barely peeked out from behind my laptop in the last couple of weeks. That said, I do have some exciting news and a few other favorites to share!


1. I have a job doing trail rides again!

Back in February when I found out the place I worked last year wouldn’t be re-opening, I Facebook messaged another local trail ride barn to see if they were hiring for the upcoming season. No luck, but while I was working on my laptop at the coffee shop last Wednesday, I got a new reply from them asking if I was still interested in a job.


This is my new friend Winston!

Pretty sure you can guess what my answer was. They had me come out Thursday to do a ride so they could see that I was competent and I could see if I wanted to work there. So far I like it a lot. They have a great setup, good horses, the trail is mostly shady (a life saver in the summer heat!) and they only do one hour rides. I got used to doing two or three 2-hour rides in a row at my old place, which is exhausting. We’ll see how much I love it in a couple of months when I’m saddling horses in 100+ heat index temps, but for now I’m so, so happy to get paid to ride again!

I went in for my first day last Saturday. Getting there at 8 a.m. is rough for a night person, but it’s only about 15 minutes away from my house, as opposed to the 45-minute drive I had to the old one. I’m pretty comfortable with the basics of the job, but I do have a LOT to learn in terms of learning the trails and getting to know the horses’ personalities and where everything is. The other guide that I was working with asked if I felt like I could take our second group of the day out by myself and I was obviously like “LOLZ not if you ever want to see them again!” Definitely need some practice leading when I can have someone experienced in the back pointing me in the right direction.

I worked with an awesome horse named Bailey that day, and I LOVE HIM. He’s a little grumpy, but as a guide horse he is a DREAM. When you’re riding in the back, you often have to move up and down the line of riders to help people whose horses decide to stop for a snack or give some quick instruction. Even though he didn’t really know me, Bailey was instantly like “Ok, I don’t know who you are but clearly you’re in charge now so cool, let’s go.” and he instantly went wherever I asked, at the speed I asked for, without question. GIVE ME ALL OF THE BAILEYS PLEASE. I’m excited to try out pretty much all of the horses, but I may have already found my new buddy.



Bailey is the paint in the foreground. That’s Egor in the back – he’s apparently top dog in the herd hierarchy, and I kinda love him.

And yes, this seems like an odd photo because the horses are also used in the outdoor play that’s been going since the 1960s. That means they get to hear gunfire and run past a burning cabin and all kinds of things that would usually freak horses out. They’re good dogs, Brent.

One amusing story from my first day – there were storms predicted for that afternoon, so we were unsure pretty much all day on if we’d actually do our last scheduled ride of the day. Eventually we officially called it off, and about that time the show for that evening also got canceled because of the weather. (It was supposed to be opening night. Bummer!) We took the horses back to the barn, which requires two trips that take about 15 minutes each (Remind me to fill you in on THAT sometime. It’s a crazy process.). Our livestock manager was on hand to help us untack everyone, which was awesome because a) saddles are heavy, y’all, and b) untacking 12-14 horses takes a while.聽 Saddles off and put away, horses put away, and a quick chat with some fellow employees and I was back in my car and heading up out of the homestead. As I was about to leave one of them pointed to the super dark clouds in the distance, which made me really glad we had canceled.

It’s like a 2-3 minute drive from the barn back to the highway when you don’t have horses with you. As soon as I made it to the intersection, a few drops began to fall. The SECOND I pulled back onto the highway… WHOOOSH! Within a minute or two, you could see waves of water blowing horizontally across the road. People were pulling over to park on the shoulder with hazard lights on because it was so intense. (My new car was AWESOME AND I LOVE IT. I never felt safe in my old car in bad weather.)

Not kidding, y’all – if we had waited just a few minutes longer to take the horses down, I would have been stuck sitting on the back of a pickup holding 5 horses while being pelted with intense rain. Could not have been luckier unless I’d magically made it home before the rain started! Quite the end to my first day!


2. My old riding boots have been literally falling apart since last fall, so I was in desperate need of new ones. The problem is that actual nice boots are $$$$$, and I needed something comfy to wear for trail rides ASAP. I don’t walk anywhere near as much at this trail job as my last one since we use a truck to lead the horses up from pasture, but comfy boots are still a must. I’ve never found cowboy boots to be comfortable and I wanted something I can use for dressage lessons as well, so I was going to just grab some $40 paddock boots from Amazon to get me by, but then I came across these:



They’re definitely more of “fashion” boots than real riding boots, but y’all… THEY WERE TEN DOLLARS.

$10.78 to be exact. I was SUPER skeptical, to put it mildly. First, I almost never order shoes online because comfort and fit are so important. But TBH these look exactly like other pairs that are listed on Amazon for $40 and up, and returning is always an option if they don’t work, so I gave them a try!

The package arrived this morning and I was pleasantly surprised! There’s a definite faux-leather smell (I’m guessing it’s polyurithane or something?) from the package sitting out in the heat, but otherwise I’m really pleasantly surprised!



You can tell they’re not high end, but they’re definitely on par with what you’d find at Target or Kohls for $30-50.


It’s too hot out to wear boots, so I just photographed them while sitting in bed. #Lazy

As you can kinda tell, they have just a tiny bit of slouch to them. My main problem was finding boots that would sit comfortably under jeans when I’m doing trail rides, but also look ok over English riding breeches. These don’t look quite right for English, but they’ll work until I can afford real boots! (C’mon, good day of tips!)



You can find them here if you’re interested. The price varies depending on what size you order (Right now size 9 and 11 are available for about $13 and the other sizes are sold out.) I kind of wish I’d ordered two pairs now – one to destroy riding and one to actually wear in the fall!



3. I’ve traded in working from the library for working from the local coffee shop.



I order a whole lot of sugar and caffeine in a cup and curl up in the back room with my laptop for around two hours. Sure, it costs around $5 each time I go, but I get more done in those two hours than I will in six hours of working at home. It’s worth it.


4. I don’t have much to share this week since I’ve basically just been working, but I’m using this last item for a celebration – I finished paying my down payment on my car! (If you missed that post, they gave me a month to come up with the $1,200 down payment that would bring my payments down to where I wanted them.) I’m now working on coming up with the $900-ish that taxes and registration are going to cost, while also making sure I have $200 set aside for the first payment that’s due in like a week.

When I get THAT taken care of, we’ll super celebrate. I need to do it ASAP since my temp tag already expired, and driving around expecting to get pulled over at any time freaks me out.


Hope everyone has a safe holiday weekend! I’m working (shocker), but I may actually take a day off next week! Oooh, ahh!


Linking up with Bright On A Budget and A Little Bit of Everything.