Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Jewelry Creations

Pink Shoreline - Rhodochrosite Earrings $32 Last Paradise Bracelet - Turquoise, Sea Green Apatite, Rhodochrosite, Yttrium Flourite, Peridot, Charoite $65

Tapestry Chandelier Earrings - Vintage Brass and Swarovski Crystal $35
Kiss the Sky - Turquoise, Blue Peruvian Opal, Apatite, Pearls & Sterling $65


Chad and I love plumerias. Ours are doing great this year with lots of blooms. The sweet smell takes me away to Hawaii for a moment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Always There Are the Horses

I ride because I rode as a child when life was simpler and somehow more complete. Only the whiff of a clean horse is needed to remind of days gone by. For always there have been the horses.
I ride because of all the great horse souls who have shared their lives with me and taught me more than I can say. Their names and faces flash before me as old friends. I ride because of all the horses I shall never ride. Those I have watched and marveled at from afar for all their grace and beauty. This the stuff of a child's dream, the kind that doesn't die with time. Always there are the horses.
I ride because the seasons call to me. Each unique in its appeal and all quite frequently best viewed from the back of a favorite horse. I ride because of all things, horses are my passion. They inspire and encourage, energize, and challenge in ways I cannot explain to the un-initiated. I ride because of the rush of stretching one's self just a bit farther today than before both mind and body. Always there are the horses.
I ride because of those briefest of spans when the partnership comes to full promise. When the path twists and barriers fall, each footfall is measured and balanced between the two as a dance. There are no others....only this moment and this single step to ride. The memories of those times stand vivid in my mind to be recalled with all the freshness of the day at will and in times less grand.
But if I must choose, I ride because I have dreams yet to live. I ride because I have dreams yet to have and what exactly they will be tomorrow I cannot say ... but always there will be the horses.
Author M. Adelia Ramey

Fred's Mexican Cafe

Like usual, I didn't feel like cooking, so Chad and I headed off for a bite to eat. We decided to try Fred's Mexican Cafe in Old Town Pasadena. The decor was looked sort of Mardi Gras/Pirates of the Caribbean, pretty gaudy. The service was good and the food was decent. We happened to go on Taco Tuesday so they had drink specials and taco special (although we didn't order the taco specials). I had #8 Baja Style Baja fish taco and a shrimp enchilada served with Mexican rice & black beans and a Tecate. It was too much for me to eat after all those chips and salsa. Chad had #4 The Wedge Chicken taco and a cheese enchilada served with Mexican rice & black beans. We were both happy with what we ordered. For me nothing compares to Ernie's Taco House, still my all time favorite Mexican food.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earthquake Shakes Los Angeles

An earthquake shook Los Angeles late this morning at 11:42am, measuring 5.4 in magnitude. I was at work, on the fifth floor. We all got under our desks. The epicenter was in Chino Hills which is about 30 miles away from where I was. We all went outside to congragate, but no luck of being sent home early. Back up the stairs we went.

I read in an article today "The probability of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake occurring in the Los Angeles in the next 30 years is 97%. So it's almost certain. " Yikes!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Equestrian Olympics - Dreams breed determination.

11 days till Olympic Games begin in Hong Kong (Aug 8)!

For me, the main event of the Olympics is the equestrian competition - and that will be held in Hong Kong, not Beijing. More than 200 riders and horses are expected to compete in the Olympics, which will be followed by the Paralympics with about 75 participants. All horses will be flown in. Dressage and jumping events will be held in the Jockey Club's Sha Tin race course, close to the border with mainland China. A golf course was converted into a cross-country course.

Here is an article by John Gettings and Mark Zurlo....

Along with sailing, equestrian is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete against each other. Inspired by the chariot races of the ancient Greek games, it is also the only Olympic sport in which humans and animals are teammates.
Riders compete in three disciplines—dressage, jumping, and eventing—and are awarded individual and team medals.
In dressage (derived from the French verb "to train") a horse-and-rider team receives scores based on a series of set movements. The movements test the horse's strength, suppleness, and obedience and the rider's ability to guide the horse through the test with subtle cues. The horse-and-rider team should present harmony, lightness, and free-flowing movement. The competition is held in three rounds. The third round is a freestyle test set to music, first introduced in 1996, that is scored both for technique and artistry.
The discipline traces its roots to Xenophon, a Greek horseman and historian, and to 17th- and 18th-century cavalry officers who considered the maneuvers a valuable training method. In fact, only commissioned officers of the military could compete in Olympic dressage competitions from its inclusion in 1912 until 1952.
In the jumping event, competitors complete a course of 15–20 obstacles within a specific time. The object is to navigate the course with the fewest penalties, which are given for knocking down obstacles, balking at jumps, or falls by rider and/or horse. The obstacles include fences up to 5 1/4 ft. high and 6ft. wide. A tie for first place is settled by a jump-off over a shorter, faster course.
Three-day eventing is the most grueling of the Olympic equestrian events, combining dressage, show jumping, and a cross-country phase. On the first day, riders demonstrate the training and obedience of their horses in a dressage test. The next day they compete in the exciting cross-country phase where they gallop 5,700m over varying terrain and jump up to 45 obstacles. While these obstacles are not as high as those in show jumping they are more solid and include ditches and fences in water. On the final day horse-and-rider teams compete over a show jumping course. This last phase demonstrates the fitness of the horses and how quickly they can recover from the previous day's trial. Eventing competitors do not win points, but instead incur penalty points during each phase. The winners are the rider and team with the fewest penalty points.
For the 2008 Olympics, equestrian will be one of the few events not to be contested within the city limits. Instead, such events will be held in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. The jumping and dressage events will be held at the Shatin Olympic Equestrian Venue, an 18,000-seat outdoor arena that was once part of Shatin Racecourse. Air conditioned stables four blocks long, and with the capacity to hold up to 200 horses were constructed for the competition, along with a number of other amenities for competitors. The cross country events will be held at a venue constructed on the Bead River Country Club and Hong Kong Golf Club.

US Showjumping Team: Chef d'Equipe: George Morris
Rider Age Hometown Horse Horse Age, Breed, Sex, Owner
Beezie Madden, 45 Cazenovia, NY Authentic 13, KWPN, Gelding, Abigail Wexner
McLain Ward, 33 Brewster, NY Sapphire 13, Belgian Warmblood, Mare, McLain Ward, Tom Grossman & Blue Chip Bloodstock
Will Simpson, 49 Thousand Oaks, CA El Campeon's Carlsson vom Dach 12, Holsteiner, Gelding, El Campeon Farm
Laura Kraut, 43 Wellington, FL Cedric 10, KWPN, Gelding, Happy Hill Farm & Peter Wetherill

First replacement (will travel with the team to Hong Kong):Anne Kursinski and Champ 163

Here is another great article from the USEF website:

For many of the equestrian athletes heading to the 2008 Olympic Games, the journey to Hong Kong started decades ago. Dreams breed determination.
Equestrian sports are one of only two Olympic sports where men and women compete as equals. There are three Olympic disciplines, dressage, eventing and show jumping. Each discipline requires a very unique set of skills. The thing they have in common is what is at the heart of the equestrian Olympic movement: the horse.
The horses’ journeys are as storied as the people who ride them. Some are bred for a very different purpose, racing or breeding or a different discipline entirely. This website will tell some of the tales of athletes, both human and equine on their way to the greatest competition in sport.
One member of each team is an Olympic rookie: eventers Becky Holder, Heidi White and Gina Miles, dressage rider Courtney King-Dye and show jumper Will Simpson are all riding under the Olympic rings for the very first time. This is Olympics number four for Phillip Dutton, but his first riding as an American. Dutton has two Team Gold medals on his bookshelf already.
There is Brentina, the veteran mare on the comeback from an injury sustained in a gallant effort to clinch the Team Bronze medal at the 2006 World Equestrian Games. She and Debbie McDonald will take on the world’s best again in Hong Kong. Veterans of the 2004 Bronze medal winning team in Athens, with teammate Steffen Peters (who’s young horse Ravel causes a stir every time he enters the ring) and King-Dye: the dressage team looks poised to go one (or two) better.
Beezie Madden and McLain Ward have each strung together major achievements over the last four years with Authentic and Sapphire respectively, but an individual Olympic medal would complete their resumes. Teammate on the 2004 Gold Medal winning team in Athens, these horses (and riders) are four years more experienced. Madden was also the individual Silver medalist from the World Equestrian Games in 2006.
But individual Olympic honors are one of the few honors that they haven’t achieved.
Laura Kraut (another Olympic veteran − 2000) and Cedric swept the USEF Selection Trials for Show Jumping in March and although Cedric is somewhat inexperienced he has one of the bravest riders in the show jumping world to guide him through his first Olympic Games.
These and dozens of other riders from all over the world will be to be part of the Olympic dream in 2008. There are medals of all colors to defend and history to be made.
Kick on to Hong Kong!
Equestrian journalist Nancy Jaffer's PREDICTIONS AT A GLANCE:
EVENTING Team: Australia, Britain and France will battle it out for gold, silver and bronze. Spoiler? The U.S. Individual: GOLD: Nicolas Touzaint and Hildago De L'ile (FRA) or Lucinda Fredericks and Headley Brittania (AUS)BRONZE: Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time (AUS) or William Fox-Pitt and Parkmore Ed (GBR)

DRESSAGE Team GOLD: Germany and the Netherlands duke it outSILVER: Whoever gets edged in the battle for goldBRONZE: U.S., with Denmark a possible spoiler
Individual GOLD & SILVER: Anky van Grunsven and Salinero (NED) v. Isabell Worth and Satchmo (GER)BRONZE: Up for grabs. Adelinde Cornelissen/Parzival (NED), Nadine Capellman/Elvis (GER), Andreas Helgstrand/Blue Hors Don Schufro (DEN) and Kyra Kyrklund/Max (FIN) are contenders. Long shot: Steffen Peters and Ravel (USA)

SHOW JUMPING Team GOLD: Germany SILVER: United States BRONZE: Canada
Individual GOLD: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly (GER)SILVER: Beezie Madden and Authentic (USA)BRONZE: Eric Lamaze and Hickstead (CAN)
Show Jumping: In show jumping, the well-calibrated U.S. squad is headed by Beezie Madden (my nominee for the individual silver) and McLain Ward, with their gold-medal horses from the 2004 Olympics, Authentic and Sapphire. The other members of the team include selection trials winner Laura Kraut on Cedric and Will Simpson with Carlsson vom Dach. Laura was the alternate for the 1992 Olympics and rode in the 2000 Games, while Will, who is making his Olympic debut, did well on a European tour earlier this year.
Germany, as usual, is the obvious choice for the team gold medal. The squad is headed by my individual gold medal pick, former America Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, the 2008 World Cup champion and number-one-ranked rider in the world with the amazing Shutterfly. Her team goes from strength to strength. Consider, for instance, that among those backing her up is another possible individual medalist, Ludger Beerbaum.
"The Germans are always the ones to beat," U.S. show jumping coach George Morris told me, noting most of that team's members "have two Aachen grand prix horses. Beezie and McLain and our people, they really just have one."
George quickly added, "I'm not saying that to discourage us. Potentially, we have a great team."
And don't forget that luck has something to do with the results, not only on the day of competition, but also beforehand. When it comes to luck, the Dutch show jumpers--who were my potential silver medalists--have been in trouble. Their 2000 Olympic individual gold medalist, Jeroen Dubbeldam, was badly injured earlier this year when he was kicked by a young horse. Then Okidoki, the stellar mount of Albert Zoer, hurt his mouth in a freak stall accident. While the horse appears to have recovered, his rider is not doing as well. Albert, the lynchpin of the Dutch team who won the Aachen grand prix on Sam (there's that depth thing again), broke his leg in a training accident two days after Aachen. Although the Dutch were hoping the world's number-two-ranked rider could mend in time to compete in Hong Kong, it seems unlikely.
So with that in mind, I am taking the Dutch out of my medal equation and promoting the U.S. team to silver. Given that anything can happen (see the Dutch team, above) the U.S. benefits from having a great alternate rider in Anne Kursinski. She and Champ are a new combination who just got together in January, but their single-time-fault trip in the first round of the Aachen Nations' Cup demonstrates how well they are meshing, and they offer George a comfort level, since Anne has two Olympic team silver medals to her credit.
Equestrian Olympic Blogs & Links:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fondue Party at the Bagan's

Last night we went to a great party at the Bagans, a fondue party! Lots of people showed up probablly 30 or so and we enjoyed some chicken, shrimp, veggies, bread, and meat dipped in a variety of different cheese fondues (Emnenthaler, Fontina, Pepper), and lots of beer. Delicious! Ave even had two chocolate fountains for dessert. Thier landscaping is finished and looks fabulous! After the feast we all sat around the fire pit and everyone had a great time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Swarovski and Sterling Bracelets

I have made lots of new swarovski and sterling bracelets lately. Most are available through my website, but I love custom orders if you have specific colors in mind (bridesmaid colors, school colors, barn colors, jockey silk colors, birthstone colors). I recently made a few bracelets with the birthstones of husband and wife couples, and they came out beautiful. I make both a bangle style with sterling sides and four crystals across the top for $70, and a bracelet that has crystals and sterling all the way around for $85.

Cafe Bizou

We were going to try out Siena a new Italian restaurant in Pasadena with our friends Kim & Pete. Kim went earlier in the day and picked up a menu. I wasn't sure how I would decide what to have since there were so many delicious selections, but unfortunately I wasn't going to have to decide because when we went back for dinner it was closed. I guess the guy forgot to mention to Kim when he gave her the menu that they were closed on Tuesdays...duh. So we decided on Cafe Bizou which never disappoints. The food is always fantastic and the corkage fee is only $2! The service is attentive and friendly. We had the tuna tar tare for an appetizer, which was delish. I had the Sand Dabs (caper butter sauce, mashed potatoes & steamed veggies), which I always order there and they melt in your mouth. Fantastic! Kim had a great pasta dish, black tagallini pasta, mushrooms & tomato in a lobster sauce. Rich, but good, I may even order it next time we go! Pete had a spicy shrimp pasta, and Chad had a crispy potato scaled salmon. We finished off with a sinful Bread Pudding with caramel sauce. Then we topped off the evening with a drink at Sushi Roku. It has a great atmosphere. We got home late, and I am the only one that had to wake up early for work the next day. Bummer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dinner and a movie

Last night Chad and I went to Brenart for dinner. It had a nice atmosphere, which was unfortunately ruined with a screaming child the ENTIRE time we were there. I really do not understand how inconsiderate parents can be. I do not find children (especially misbehaved ones) cute, charming or desireable to share my liesure time with, or any other time for that matter. The shreaking was impossible to ignore and it probabbly will cause us never to go back because that is what I remember most about our experience there. Note to parents: no one wants to hear or see your unruly children misbehave like animals, leave them at home and get a babysitter! Anyway, Chad and I tried to enjoy our Cream of Purple Cauliflower Soup, Scallop Risotto, and bottle of bottle of Gatekeeper Shiraz, but we got out of there as soon as we could and headed for the movies where we met The Bagans. We saw The Dark Knight. It was a good movie, very entertaining, although a bit long (2 1/2 hours). Heath Ledger, was brilliant as a mad-crazy Joker.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Saddle Up

Sunday was an exciting day with Mazzy. I had the help of my friend Sandy, so I decided to ride her. We got her all tacked up and I mounted up on her with the aid of a little stool. She was amazingly calm and well behaved. We had a small audience so I was quite happy she was a star. Sandy led me around the arena several times as my power steering doesn't quite work yet. I am always amazed at how well behaved she is for a two year old. I feel very lucky. We then gave her lots of carrots and a bath.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bridge Party

Sponsored by the Pasadena Heritage Society this event is a fund raiser. It is a chance to also party on the "Suicide Bridge" as it is blocked to traffic and bands, food vendors and high octane cocktails are available to make for a really fun and entertaining evening. Food, Bands (A roster of local favorites includes Aluminum Marshmallow and the Age of Aquarius Horns, The Cain Enablers, the Chuck Manning Quartet, Flattop Tom and His Jump Cats, Mercy and the Merkettes, Pasadena Scottish Pipes and Drums, Snotty Scotty and the Hankies and Wreck ‘n’ Sow.), Bar Tents and dancers, doesn't get much better on a summers evening. We saw tons of people we knew (Tana, Charlie & the kids, Bethsheba (Doggie Nanny), Tamara (Michelle's friend), Cheryl & Michael Anderson, Victor Cass (on duty), Station 38 firefighters, (on duty), Chief Wells, Chief Downs) and met alot of new people. Our group (Kim, Leslie, Missy, Bradley, Linda, John & myself) had a great time. We drank too many mojitos, and danced in to the night ending up at Twin Palms dancing some more, and taking a taxi cab home.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dena House

A group got together (Stephany & Robert, Ted, LAPD Dave, Cheryl & Kimo) to try out some sushi at a new place in town, Dena House. I thought it was good, except Chad got a bad piece of Uni, which kind of ruined his experience. We ordered Crispy Spicy Tuna, which is one of my favorite sushi specialtyies, so I was stoked when I saw they offered it. Thier menu is HUGE, aside from an extensive sushi menu they have chinese food, burgers, mexican, pastas, they brew a few of thier own beers, a little bit of an odd combination, but we'll see how it works in the doomed location of 42 S De Lacey Ave (it has been a long-line of failures from a Jerry's Deli to, most recently, Union Cattle Co. - boo hoo the mechanical bull is now gone). Its hard to belief that the quality of all of their different dishes is good given the fact that they have over 50. We also had a sexy roll, I tried a piece of Dena roll, which was great, and the Ono was fabulous!
It was then off to The Yard House to meet some more friends.....Chad had a run in with one of the bartenders. It was a similar experience to the one I had a few moths ago (when they wouldn't serve me with an expired driver's license, what that has to do with verifying my age I still do not know). The bartender was extremely rude (like many of them are there). They just don't know how to treat thier customers, especially the regulars, which Chad WAS. Now we have both crossed The Yard House off of our lists. Yeah!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Infrared Body Wrap

A couple of months ago I bought a promotional spa package to promote new services offered at On The Beach Day Spa in Toluca Lake. Today I went for my Infrared Body Wrap session. It was interesting, but I'm not quite sure I'm a believer. "The Formostar wrap will apply heat to the body and the heat will get underneath the fat tissue and the heat will thin the blood allow a much thinner blood to get into the areas where fat tissue is. Bringing the blood back in starts metabolism and the heat starts to soften the fat tissue. The fat tissue starts to break up and is then released back into the blood stream in the form of calories for you to burn up as energy. " They wrap you up (over your gym clothes) in these silcon feeling body wraps, and then turn up the heat. Honetly I don't feel or see a difference. At $100 a session I don't think I'll be signing up.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Handcock, Houston's, Dot's

We went to see Hancock with the Bagans. Funny movie with Will Smith as a drunk, sarcastic, and misunderstood "superhero". Hancock’s well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. Jason Bateman was cute in the movie.

Then it was off to Houston's for dinner. It was average. We've been there countless times before, but it is really best for beef which we do not eat anymore, especially the Prime Rib. They usually have a few fish selections, but they are usually only okay. We started with the grilled artichoke and famous spinach artichoke dip (yummy). I had the Grilled Loup De Mer (Hardwood grilled with Marcona almonds and steamed broccoli), the fish was blah, not worth $30. I also had a glass (or two) of Meyer Family Syrah, which was good. Chad had Half a roasted chicken with crushed herbs, served with Louisiana-style dirty rice. Tony & Ave both had beef. I like the ambiance, especially the artichoke looking lamps. Their booths are big and comfy. The parking is bad, and there is usually a long wait, so be prepared to get a drink at the bar. There is a nice patio outside to enjoy your cocktail.

We had stopped at Dot's on the way in to Houstons (it is right next door) and got some cupcakes which our waitress put in the fridge for us while we ate. They were so good! I had the Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Facial Rejuvination

A couple of months ago I bought a promotional spa package to promote new services offered at On The Beach Day Spa in Toluca Lake. Today I had an appointment for a Lumiere Facial Rejuvination. "LED Skin Rejuvenation is the interaction of light, delivered through Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) at precisely 633 nanometers. This pure red light activates cell receptors causing them to produce collagen, elastin, and enzymes that are imperative to the skin's supportive structure. The result is a totally natural, non-ablative method for skin rejuvenation that helps minimize crow's feet, fine lines, wrinkles, reduce scar appearances, hyper-pigmentation, freckles, Rosacea and simply improves the overall appearance of the skin." My skin felt nice afterwards, but I am not convinced I saw any drastic improvements. A package of these Lumiere sessions is $849 for the Intensive thanks, I'd rather have Botox.

I am glad I only bought a promotional package for $55, because many of the services this spa offers seems a little hokey to me.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wine Styles

Had a lesson with Patrick in the morning, it was pretty hot out. Chad and I then went to the Yard House for lunch. The service was mediocre (at best), but the appetizer we got was good (poke stack and a spicy tuna roll, which isn't a roll at all). It was such a nice day we went down to Armstrong's Nursery and bought some vegetable plants. We then discovered a cool wine bar in South Pasadena, called Wine Styles. We did a wine tasting with five different wines, and found a wine we like so we bought a bottle (Pietra Santa, Sangiovese, Cienga Valley). We then tried a glass of 2003 San Simeon, Paso Robles, Syrah, and bought a bottle of that too. Thankfully, Chad and I have the same taste in wine. It cooled off a little by the time we got home, so we planted our new plants and did some work in the yard then had tomato sandwiches for dinner.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

I had a nice peacefuly ride in the morning before heading off the the Gem & Jewelry Show in Pasadena. I picked up a few things, some beautiful Peruvian Opal, Tourmaline, onyx, Amethyst and some Bali silver findings.

Kim and I went went to one of the surgeons houses she works with at Huntington Hospital for a great 4th of July party. The house was on Linda Vista, and overlooked the Rose bowl for a spectacular view of the fireworks. Chad and Pete both had to work.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Trapped Faceted Stones

I took my first class at Farrin O'Connor Design Studio. It was called Trapped Faceted Stones. Instructor: Carl Stanley. He is quite talented. We learned Carl’s unique way to set faceted stones withoutsoldering. I started out with a plain piece of 2" x 2" metal sheet. I used lots of cool tools (rolling mill to produce texture, metal punches, files, flexshaft to "score" the metal, belt sander), and got good practice soldering multiple times ("valley" where metal was scored, top cap, bottom cap & bail). I am quite pleased with the way mine turned out.

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