long weekends are for projects + 2019 goals

I got so much done this weekend! I work from home, so I can (and do) chip away at projects pretty much whenever I want. But there’s something about three unadulterated weekend days (with husband help) to get. shit. done.

First, we spread 10 cubic yards of compost and 40 cubic yards of wood chips on the main spring vegetable bed.

it’s so big i’m so excited that’s what she said

When we were sick and tired of spreading and mulching (or, you know, when it was raining) we hammered away at the chicken coop. Literally. I mean, mostly it was a lot of cutting and measuring and cutting again because lumber is not actually the dimensions it professes to be, nor is it a dimension that actually makes sense. I mean, please. 2 x 4 would be SO MUCH MORE CONVENIENT than 1.875 x 3.625.

the near wall folds down for easy cleaning, so we’ll add it after i paint.
also, chicks coming your way in march 2019, get ready for the #peepshow

But it is what it is. And it’s done. I mean, minus the roof and the paint job and putting the door and the last wall on.

In short, we smanged this long weekend thing.

A good thing too, because 2019 is going to be the year of the horse house.

actually 2019 is the year of the pig, which means it’s the year of the jellinore

This is the first January since I got back from Congo that I’ve been horseless. And it’s odd. I poured a good deal of thought and energy into Murray, even when he was¬†quite green. It’s strange not to have that mental space filled.¬†So it’s good that I’ve got a big project horse house to fill my time with. I mean, I also have the little gray pony. But it’s not the same — and we all know it. Sammy is a campsite: I’m staying temporarily and will leave it in better condition than I found it, but I’m not living there forever. I mean, even if it is the cutest, most adorable, sausage-shaped campsite you ever did see. (Campsite rule stolen from Dan Savage, you may know it from elsewhere though. Also, that particular search query is nsfw.)

bodacious now please LET ME OUTSIDE

So, how to make pony goals this year without a pony of my own?¬†Lots of people are opting for process goals or non-goal-y-goals. I figured I’d just…. set some goals, and see where we get! There are also a few things that are¬†definitely going to happen/are already happening, but I’m going to go ahead and put them in the goals column anyway so I can give myself the joy of checking them off anyway. (That’s how checklists work, duh!) We’re a little heavy on the personal goals this year, but that’s alright.

12 months of position fixes¬†– L did this last year, and I thought it was such a fantastic idea! It’s already in process.

  • January – twist right! specifically, right hand to the right of the neck always
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Lease for 4 months (before buying) – It’s time to get my learn on with another horse (or pony). Leasing is going to help me avoid impulsively buying something inappropriate.

Lessons 3x a month (as the schedule allows) – There are group jump lessons on Sundays, and obviously private flat lessons can be scheduled as needed. TrJ is a great trainer, and I’m very happy to put her stamp on me as a rider.

Take the pony to one show – This little beast should be fun to get out! Schooling, rated, it doesn’t matter.

Start looking for a new horse – This will most likely be an OTTB (because I like them, and the price is right). Window shopping doesn’t count.

sammy: stop taking pictures of Blue and gimme more cookiez

Save for a new horse –¬†This is, of course, the big ticket item of 2019. A conservative estimate, even taking into account the generally-lower price tag of OTTBs, is that I’ll need at least 8k for this journey. This includes PPE (in the $1000 range), extensive saddle refitting or purchase (in the $2000 range — potentially laughable), and a bunch of bodywork and additional training needed for baby OTTBs. But I¬†do so love them.

12 months of good habits – I’m not the tidiest person around and, look I’ll fess up, I don’t brush my teeth every morning. It takes 3 months to change habits (or so I’ve been told). So I’m going to tackle a new habit every month and hopefully come January of next year, at least 9 of those will have stuck. The goal here is for these to be little changes to my life that won’t be hard to enact. “Clean the living room every day” is not going to be a habit I actually stick with. (Though now that I think of it, “fold the throw blankets every night” could be.)

  • January – morning teeth brushing!
  • February –
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Complete twelve house projects – This goes along with the other “12 months of” type projects. There’s a lot of month-by-month type goal-setting around here. It’s actually a neat way to break the year down. This includes: waxing the floors in the whole house, painting the office, building myself a desk, finishing the coop (ha! one down), setting up the garden, building the incubator, refinishing the bathroom (x2, one is soooo pink), painting the kitchen, empty the tool shed, etc.

Run once a week (on average) – It’s just once a week! Just 52 runs! You can do this! (I’m actually already 4 runs down, so not going too poorly.)

Work on the SO regarding a second dog – I want a second dog like I want to keep breathing. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But Jelly and I are ready for a second doggo in my life, and SO is the one who will need convincing.

a barn dog, but come on! who doesn’t want more of this in their life?

Do more good –¬†I currently volunteer with a primate nonprofit, but I want to increase the good I do in the world. Right now I have time (see above re: not spending nearly as much time thinking and riding* as in the past), and feel like I can do¬†more. Fostering (dogs) is at the top of my list. But I’ll see if other volunteering-type activities might work well for me too.

Write more science-based blogs – This is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but the research aspect of it is an incredible amount of effort. I will need to collect some interesting topics to review, that always motivates me.

Meet more bloggers! – I’ve moved to a new place, which means I have a whole new group of bloggers to target with my bad jokes and biomechanics cult!

Murray¬†still gets his own category here! Just ’cause he’s retired doesn’t mean he can’t better himself. But, really, he has only one goal:

Do not get kicked out of his cushy retirement situation. There is no soft landing after this one, boy. You cannot leave, and you cannot wear out your welcome. To help with this, I’ll be doing ground work with him whenever I visit. All he needs to do is stand for a trim every 6 weeks, get his blanket taken on and off as needed, accept vaccination, and not hurt his pasture mate. FOUR TINY THINGS, MURRAY.

diy: sharpen your own clipper blades

I’m interrupting my food-coma-induced silence to bring you the DIY that has lately revolutionized my life: sharpening my own clipper blades! It’s a good break project too, so somewhat timely.

I’m not sure about you guys, but I find getting my clipper blades sharpened surprisingly challenging. I’ve paid to have it done at a two different places, and found myself dissatisfied with the results both times. And you have to drop them off and pick them up and wait, or wait for them to get shipped back out to you.  That’s an extra level of planning I’m just not usually prepared for.  Additionally, the really good sharpening guy who is local to my area doesn’t open on weekends, so you have to find a way to get to him during the week  between 8 and 5, which doesn’t work with  my schedule.

So when I found out that you could sharpen your own blades quickly and easily with just one thing that I already had at home, I was sold.  That one thing?  A whetstone.

I’m no sharpening expert, but I watched a bunch of youtube videos that all had the same basic consensus on the method, which seemed pretty easy.  My father in law also pointed out that he’s never sharpened something and made it worse.  Plus, I clipped my friend’s mare after doing a test-sharpen on my blades and found it pretty easy, even on her tight, thick hair.  So that makes me a bona fide internet expert (clip job shown above).

So here’s how you do it.


  • a whetstone (I use this one)
  • a towel you don’t mind staining forever
  • paper towels
  • a bowl of water
  • clipper blades
  • phillips head screwdriver
  • clipper blade oil

I did not suggest an adult beverage because we are working with sharp objects, but you’re an adult, you can make your own choices

First, soak or otherwise prepare your whetstone. The twinternet says 5-40  minutes. I soaked mine for about ten.

make sure it’s covered in water

Then you have the slightly fiddly task of taking your clipper blades apart. You simply need to loosen the two screws on the bottom of the clipper blades with your screwdriver. Don’t try to use a butter knife, it won’t work. I tried.

Use your rag towel to provide a surface to keep all your pieces together, and to stabilize your whetstone when you start sharpening.

There are only four pieces (plus two screws) that you have to keep track of, so it’s not too horrifying to take apart. Try to keep the top two pieces together so that you don’t have to fiddle around with them later. Step by step take-apart image below.

Brush all of the hair and dirt and grit out of your blades with a small brush (often comes with clippers), or if you lost it like me, a paper towel.

I tried to take some pictures of how dirty/rusty my blades were, but it was not the easiest picture ever. But you can see dirt and rust on the interior of the blades (this is my wide T84 blade, but it comes apart just the same as the other blades).

Next, plop some water on your sharpening stone and get ready to get dirty! I started on the coarse (1000 grit) side of the stone, and moved to the fine side (4000 grit I think, but maybe 6000) to polish/finish it off. For the blades that had only done a trace clip on one horse since they were last sharpened, I only used the fine grit side (which is why my animations are a bit different from the pictures here).

You should be able to tell the grit level of your stone by feeling it — there’s a big difference between 1000 and 4000 grit.

You are going to sharpen to the two flat sides of the toothed blade; the sides that sit facing one another when the clippers are put together. Once the blade is on the stone with water, you just start rubbing it along the stone with firm and even pressure.

You’ll start seeing dirty/gritty water appear on the stone, and that’s good! That grit is what helps clean up your blade.

Keep adding water to your stone and blade as you go, you want it to stay wet (not underwater, but not just damp) the whole time.

I use three motions to sharpen my blade. First, moving the blade straight up and down square to the stone.

I also run just the edge of the blade across the edge of the stone. This one is a bit more challenging as you have to avoid biting into the edge of your stone with the underside of the blade, and have to try to keep things flat.


Finally, I make circles with the blade along the stone.

From what I understand, using these different motions allows you to avoid making waves/divots in your stone, but also helps you sharpen different parts of the blade. But what do I know.

Keep even pressure across the blade to sharpen the whole length as evenly as possible.

Check the blades regularly to see how clean they are getting. Because you can’t test sharpness until they are put back together, I use cleanness to indicate sharpness. So when I can still see bits of dirt and rust I keep going. When the blades look really shiny and reflective, I know I’m close to done.

Here’s one blade in sunlight. It’s hard to see, but the central teeth are still dirty, so I kept going. Shortly after this, I switched to the fine grit so I could get them really polished (and hopefully sharp).

Just keep rubbing in different directions and orientations and you’ll get there.

When the blades were super shiny and reflective, I called it good. You can see in the pictures that the blades are quite shiny across the entiren length, though in person the middle section was a touch less shiny. I also did this process on the white “ceramic” blade that came on one set of clippers, and they seemed to respond much like the metal blades.

After sharpening, you want to dry the blades off really well. I put the pieces in front of the fireplace for 20 minutes or so, but a low oven would do too. Or in the sunlight if it weren’t too humid. 

The last part is the most fiddly – putting the blades back together. It’s just the reverse of taking them apart, but more irritating. Place the small blade on top of the large one with the cutting surfaces touching and line the teeth up. Then place the top pieces down in line with the holes for the screws. The bar on the top pieces fits in a groove on the top blade, which is how the top blade stays in place. Then you need to line the screws up and tighten them down.

I found that by loosely winding one screw in, I could re-adjust the other half of the blade to get the second screw lightly placed. During this step you should make sure your clipper blades are lined up straight, otherwise you’ll end up with a really uneven clip (I imagine, haven’t tested this). Once everything is lined up, really tighten the screws down.

I dried the blades off again on the fireplace after putting them together, then tightened one more time. Now it is time to apply clipper oil. This will prevent your blades from rusting and keep them clean for your next clip job. Attach your blades to your clipper, apply a line of oil across the teeth, then turn the clippers on and let them run for a moment. 

Soak your whetstone to get off any residual metal fillings.  If you have one, use a flattening stone to resurface the whetstone and achieve a really flat surface again (if you think it needs it). I store my stone in the box it came in, after I’ve cleaned and let it air dry.

And voila! Clippers sharpened. Three sets of clippers took me two episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., all the way through clean up. Well worth the time and investment, imo!

diy: paint it black

Last year — nay, nearly 18 months ago! — Amanda posted about re-dying her Childeric black, and I became strangely obsessed with the idea. ¬†I even offered to pull it off on my trainer’s lesson dressage saddle, which is looking rather greeny-browner than black after many, many, many sweaty lesson butts have graced it. ¬†I never got around to the project for my trainer, but once I got my Anky I knew that I would be embarking upon this particular DIY. ¬†I followed Amanda’s excellent instructions pretty closely, but encountered enough little issues that I thought it worth another write up.

Image result for rolling rock

First, gather your adult beverage.

I have been informed that no DIY project that starts without an adult beverage is worth embarking upon.  I chose a beverage with a horse on the logo.




Second, gather your non-drinkable supplies.

You will need:

A couple of notes on supplies. You can’t ship deglazer to California, so I had to look around for an alternate stripping agent. ¬†A quick search on some leather work forums and a look at the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Fiebing’s deglazer, and it’s mostly ethyl acetate with some ethyl alcohol. ¬†However, the good peoples of the internet seemed to think that denatured alcohol would do just fine, and to move up to ethyl acetate only if the finish was particularly resistant.

Amanda also used foam brushes for a few parts of the application, and I used them for a few steps also, but found that they weren’t really the best tool for the job. ¬†Microfiber cloths worked much better, but the ones I ordered from Amazon had to be cut down to a more manageable size.

Step three, deglaze.

My saddle was not in the worst, greenest state, but it was fairly faded and had one noticeably funny spot on the seat. ¬†Based on the location, I can only assume that the previous owner of my saddle leaned back rather far in the tack and the center belt loop on her breeches made this spot. ¬†More importantly, however, I’m sure that any and all finish that had ever graced its leather was also gone. ¬†I rubbed and rubbed with the denatured alcohol on a rag, but didn’t see very much change. ¬†But I went for it on all parts of the saddle to make sure that the dye would soak in well.

When using deglazer or ethyl acetate DO use gloves and work in a well ventilated area. This stuff is not good for you and can make its way into your liver through your skin or lungs.

After this step and slopping ethyl alcohol all over my saddle, I let it sit out overnight to evaporate all the spare alcohol and go finish off that case of horse-themed beverage.

Step the fourth: paint it black.

The next day, you should start your saddle dying playlist.

after two coats of dye

The leather dye came with a little brush applicator which worked really nicely to get dye into all the nooks and crannies. It also worked pretty well to get dye on the bigger areas, but in this step I also used a foam brush to get the dye on. ¬†Amanda recommended three thin coats, which she evened out by rubbing the dye in with a rag after putting dye on to one section. ¬†I was not that competent at making only “thin coats” with the dye, but fortunately, I found that unless you had majorly uneven sections with huge differences in the amount of dye applied, it pretty much evened out as it dried.

This part was a little challenging since I had to do the underside of the panels, which required a little creative wrangling while I painted and rubbed it down.  I left the saddle upside down to dry for a little while and imbibed some more.

For the rest of the saddle, I moved back and forth between different sections to let one area dry before applying the next coat. ¬†My saddle soaked up a fair bit of dye, and after two coats everywhere looked good to me except for panels and knee rolls. ¬†I ended up ordering two more bottles of dye, because I offered to do my MIL’s old Kieffer at the same time. ¬†Since both panels are dual flap, there is like 2x the surface area of a monoflap to get covered so… this makes sense. ¬†The bottles are so cheap that it wasn’t exactly a hardship to crack open a second bottle.

panels and knee rolls after the second coat

You should also know that the dye is super, super thin — thinner than water — and will flick all over your face if you sweep a brush toward yourself. ¬†You may need to take off a layer of skin to get the dye off your face before the pizza party.

You can also see in the pictures that I painted over the logo buttons. I didn’t intend to, but I accidentally did it on one side and just didn’t care about the other. I do plan to pull this extra dye off, probably using a q-tip and some nail polish remover. ¬†The D-rings and stainless buttons on the saddle wiped completely clean without problem.

Step five: Tan-kote.

I let the dye dry for a full 24 hours, then gently buffed the saddle with a microfiber cloth before applying the tan-kote. ¬†This step was stupidly easy: pour a little tan-kote (the consistency of Elmer’s glue) onto a microfiber rag, and apply to saddle all over. ¬†You can see the leather soaking up the tan-kote and getting a healthy-looking luster to it as you go. ¬†I’m definitely not known for my less-is-more philosophy, and used a fair bit of tan-kote in this step.

When I buffed the saddle dry almost no dye was coming off of it, but as I applied the tan-kote there was plenty of dye coming out on the rag.  I let the tan-kote dry overnight before moving on to the resolene.

Sixth: Seal and finish.

Resolene is a sealant and finisher, and Amanda recommended that you apply it in full sunlight. ¬†Warning: do not apply this in full sunlight on an 80+ degree day. ¬†The resolene was drying so fast on the saddle that I couldn’t rub out any of the uneven spots. ¬†This was also a step where the foam brushes were useless: they left streaky marks of finish and weird bubbles on the panels and seat especially.

Six-point-five-th: redo steps 1-5 where you borked it the first time

I actually did such a poor job with the resolene that I ended up stripping the seat and starting over. ¬†I suspect that because the seat is so smooth and flat you can see any imperfections in the finish much more clearly (though ultimately, they’ll spend most of their time under my ass soooo maybe it was unnecessary). ¬†But really… it looked absolutely awful.

I had to work a fair bit harder with the ethyl alcohol to strip the resolene off of the seat, and really scrub it on there, but it did come out eventually.  I let it dry, slapped on some more dye and then tan-kote, and went back to sealing the rest of the saddle.

The best way I found to apply the resolene was to pour a small amount onto a small rag (I cut my Amazon microfiber cloths into quarters).  I had folded the rag into a sponge-like shape so the application surface was smooth.  Then I rubbed that resolene across the saddle in one direction.  After moving indoors, I just did this in really good lighting, and for the knee rolls and flaps it was fine.  For the seat, I worked carefully outdoors in the shade one morning.

It is also really essential to let the layers of resolene dry properly between applications. ¬†When the resolene was partially dried, I ended up smudging it around with the next layer (leading to the above snafu). ¬†I’d give it at least an hour between layers, and if you’re doing this as a summer project, avoid doing it in the heat of the day. ¬†I’m not really sure, but it seemed like the resolene dried out enough to get tacky really fast, but didn’t really “set” in the heat. ¬† I ended up doing 3 layers on the seat, knee rolls, and tops of the flaps, 2 layers on the inside of the flaps, and 3 on the panels and underside of the flaps.

At left, my freshly dyed and sealed seat done much more carefully. The funny belt loop smudge is¬†almost gone, and you can’t see it out of really good light.

Once again, you could probably go easier on the resolene than I did. ¬†It gives the leather a great, shiny finish — the back of my saddle almost looks patent now — but it also makes the leather a little stiff and squeaky.

Seventh: finishing touches.

I didn’t even buff the saddle again or apply lederbalsam before riding, because I have a dressage show on Saturday that I really, really needed to practice my test at least once for. ¬†The seat now has a little smudge in it from the buffing action of my butt, and the resolene around the leathers and where my leg goes has worn off already. ¬†Honestly, this didn’t surprise me. ¬†I wouldn’t (and won’t) re-seal those parts of the flaps in the future. ¬†There was also a fair bit of color transfer from the underside of the saddle on to my saddle pad, just around the bottom and edges of the flaps — I chose an old pad for this ride for that exact purpose.

Overall, I definitely did not do as good of a job as Amanda. ¬†The project required some time, planning, and thought, and wasn’t just a straight up weekend project for me (but it might be for you if you drink fewer horse beers). ¬†My saddle was out of commission for five days, including fixing my resolene mess up. ¬†However, considering that my saddle looks AMAZING now that it’s done, it was completely worth it.

10/10, will definitely do this again. If only I can find something else to dye…