6 weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

I haven’t always been a fan of cowhide, perhaps because I haven’t had the vision for it into the decor of the log house. Cowhide placemats and runners have just never really taken my fancy. Pinterest has changed all of that and really popped open my eyes to the endless possibilities of cowhide. I’ve grown to love the idea of it so much, I’m venturing a guess that one or two of the people on my Christmas list will be receiving it in one form or another.

If you’re looking for a lifetime gift for the people who share your home, or a unique western-styled option for the urbanites in your life, here’s a selection of uses of cowhide to inspire.

Cowhide is a thought of as a traditional western accent, but with it’s organic elements of hide, hair and colour, it transfers easily into modern spaces.

Decorators know a cool thing when they see it, but I hadn’t ever thought of putting a cow hide in the bathroom. Is it even practical? Will it stand up to the inevitable water splashes?

Ever more daring, how about a bathtub encased in cowhide? So much warmth in the combination of wood grain, browns and hide.

Cowhide on white plank floor is a favourite for me, especially pulling together this minimal look. . .

. . .  or adding warmth and style to an office.

Boho chic gets a boost of Wild west with a cowhide.

No need to go for the whole rug, opt instead for a piece of furniture, like this award-winning coffee-table design.

Cool and chic chairs and ottoman. . .

. . . or these full loungers, really spectacular pieces.

Why not just drape your entire staircase in chocolate brown sensory overload? This one captures my vote.

There’s also a plethora of smaller decor items in cowhide such as mirror frames, lampshades and pillows.

These carry-ons are neat statements of your love of the West. And wine :).

And finally, what speaks of your love of the West more than a stocking crafted of cowhide.

Turns out the Wild West is alive and well in places modern, not  traditional western homes. If I’ve tweaked the idea of adding cowhide (or more cowhide!) to your decor, you can find much more of it at our Make Mine Cowhide Pinterest board, where we’ve amassed a small collection of all things cowhide. (You’ll also find the links for the sources for the photos I’ve employed here.)

Belt by Paige Albrecht. Skull by Dylan Callaghan. Photo by Krista Kay.

For the love of all things cowhide, we’re giving away this gorgeous cowhide belt by our friend and artisan, Paige Albrecht. All you have to do to be entered in the draw is comment below on what your favourite application of cowhide, as depicted in the pictures above, is, or just choose one of your own.

I nearly forgot to mention, to receive a double entry into the contest, just head over to the Western Horse Review Facebook Page, and enter there as well. Happy Friday!

7 weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Music is a constant at the log house. We each have our influences and our tastes meander all genres. Shelves and cupboards overflow with CD’s, and I’m mildly grateful the era of albums is over, for the room it’s saved me. Even with the overabundance of our current collection, and the advent of itunes, new CD’s regularly find their way into the house. I don’t know about you, but itunes just doesn’t cut it for me. Hits aren’t sustainable enough to hold my attention, too much like soundbites of a larger picture. I need to listen to the full CD, to hear the entire story told.

In this house, the gift of music, in any form, excepting of course, Toby Keith, can never be misguided.

Here’s some of the latest we’ve been listening to.

Ryan Fritz writes all of his own material, inspired by the trails and cowboying life he’s led. He grew up in southern Alberta, and worked for many years on Canada’s renowned ranches such as the Gang and Douglas Lake Ranches. Ryan Fritz and his family now live in eastern Saskatchewan where they run cattle and manage a 5,000 steer pasture. And, play guitar. Produced by fellow prairie musician, Eli Barsi and John Cunningham, Wind Blown Buckaroo is Fritz’s fourth album, and his best, keeping the tradition of cowboy music alive. Order direct from Fritz at ryefritz@gmail.com.

Western Horse Review writer Deanna Buschert interviewed Tim Hus for an earlier issue this year, and upon the edit, I was awed by his humbleness. He didn’t let an answer go by without thanking his mentors, fellow musicians and always, his fans and friends. Just one of the reasons why it’s so satisfying to see his latest album, Western Star, receive such fantastic reviews and play. Some compare him to the late and great Stompin’ Tom Connors; I don’t see that comparison myself in the music, but one thing is sure, he is a true Canadian and original roots musician.

And, finally, Johnny Cash. Insight Editions recently published House of Cash:  The Legacies of My Father, Johnny Cashwritten by his son, John Carter Cash. This book gives you an insight into the Man in Black the likes of which you’ve never seen before. It is an intimate exploration of the soul behind the music, housed in a beautiful mock-leather binding, with a feature CD, accompanied by reproductions of handwritten song lists, lyrics and liner notes.

Gathering together previously unpublished photographs, lyrics, art, notes such as this humorous “to do list”. . .

. . . letters to June, and recollections from the Cash family archives, John Carter paints a portrait of his father’s inner life, and the values he imparted to his son and family.

This is truly a unique portrait of a deeply spiritual, creative, and passionate soul whose music sprang from the way he lived, and one I don’t mind saying, I would love to find under our tree.

9 Weeks ’til Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Christmas is just around the corner . . . nine weeks away today.

What was once a 12 Weeks ’till Christmas countdown here at Screen Doors & Saddles has evolved into nine weeks. Really, what was I thinking? Does anyone really want to know this detail, whether nine or 12? Seriously, I’m just getting my head wrapped around Halloween.

Still, I can’t deny it, the 25th of December looms and over the next nine weeks I’m going to share a few unique Christmas gift ideas with you – offerings geared specifically for country and western living – my favorite genre of shopping. I hope you’ll find something that catches your eye and incites a cross off your list.

By the way, if you’re not a subscriber to the print magazine, it’s a great time to join up, and also give a gift. We have a holiday subscription special currently on – two for one! Only $24.95 – two subscriptions for the price of one – catch it here. 

On to this week’s Christmas gift idea. I recently caught wind of a nifty new equine subscription service. A Horse Box is a unique home delivery gift idea that’s been omnipresent in the U.S.A. for sometime, and just launched this August in Canada.

Photo by Krista Kay

The folks at A Horse Box kindly sent me the August box to review and it really impressed with the choice of products. I really like this idea. How much fun is it to receive A Horse Box? Akin to a mini-Christmas, I tell ‘ya! It’s innovative, brilliant, fun and a perfect anecdote for the hard-to-buy for rider, or anyone who loves to try new horse products.

This box of goodies in mini-sizes merit attention, and offer up a perfect way to test out an array of equine products you might otherwise miss on the store shelf, or just never think of trying.

Photo by Krista Kay

Here’s how it works: Each month members receive 5-7 handpicked items – from grooming products to alternative health items and gourmet treats.

Even. . . MAGAZINES!

That’s right, I’m thrilled to let you know that A Horse Box has partnered with Western Horse Review and thousands of A Horse Box deliveries in early 2014 – in both the U.S. and Canada – will contain the Jan/Feb issue, bundled with a special subscription offer.

I hope you love the sample issue, as much as I love A Horse Box.

P.S. A Horse Box is available for order in the United States and Canada, each with a separate order website. I’ve linked them here for your convenience.

Artisans of the West – Shawna Whiteside

Shawna Whiteside, silversmith and owner of the Sweet Iron Silver Co.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue 

Whiteside’s Bronc Pendent, represents the symbolism of the West.

For silversmith Shawna Whiteside, working from her studio near Didsbury, Alberta, creating the feel of the West involves color, creativity and her passion for life. In her work, she combines intricate designs and a splash of color to create a unique western flavor. Whiteside feels she has a passion to create innovative and expressive jewelry, which offers whimsical detail with a modern twist. Her work specializes in the bright cut style western engraving and she also is fond of making custom work, incorporating logos, brands or initials.

“I have a passion for anything that will make a piece a one-of-a-kind or an heirloom. I love adding color, which is why I’m always putting pendants on colorful turquoise, amethyst, or other stones. I also try to mix copper, gold, silver and other metals together to make things pop.”

Whiteside relates she has always had a passion for jewelry, but it wasn’t until she turned 30 that she decided to pursue her passion.

A beautifully crafted silver ring, inspired by western design.

“My mother started doing bronzes around that time. She is an amazing artist and she has always taught me to follow my dreams.”

Inspiration for her jewelry comes from different ideas that might have not been done in the western style. Whiteside says she keeps a notebook in her purse and does quick sketches whenever a new idea comes to life. “I’m always looking in magazines and trying to figure out new ways to wear and engrave, keeping the traditional methods, but putting a colorful or modern twist on them.”

Recently she has gone to Washington to meet and train with Mark Drain, founder of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. “He is a hero of mine and a brilliant silversmith. He continues to inspire me to try different things and make every piece the best one I can possibly make it.”

For seven years, Whiteside has been juried into the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. “I was one of the first artisans they let into the Western Showcase.”

She said the opportunity to show at the Stampede is like winning an Academy Award. “I try every year to incorporate something new or different in my work. It really makes me try to evolve and improve.”

Custom brand bracelet with 10 karat gold scroll.

Visit the Sweet Iron Silver Co. to see more of Shawna’s work.

~ story by Deanna Buschert

Back On Track Vegas Stars

There’s a Canadian company making waves in Las Vegas right now. Back On Track has become the first Canadian corporate sponsor of the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA). Currently, president and CEO of the Back On Track Canadian division, David Bergendahl and VP of Sales and Marketing, Tobi Mcleod, are at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center to take in the NRCHA Stakes show, held March 26-30 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I’m a cow horse guy myself,” says Bergendahl. “So we really like to support the discipline of cow horse in Canada through the Alberta Reined Cow Horse Association and we’ll continue to do that. However, we wanted to grow the Back On Track support even more, so we decided to become a corporate sponsor with the NRHCA.”

Bergendahl first learned of BoT – which maintains its head office in Uppsala, Sweden – when he returned back to Sweeden (his home country), after a long stay in Canada.

“I thought BoT products were pretty neat. And I had previously contended in reining events. But when I was drawn to cow horse while still in Sweden. So I got in touch with the Swales family and when I returned to Canada, I became involved in cow horse.”

Back On Track (BoT) products are really strong in the English, trotting and race worlds, as riders are seeing the benefits the company’s products offer to both riders and animals alike. The corporation additionally has show jumper, Ian Millar on board as a company spokesperson. However, the product is still gaining momentum with western folk and riders in the south are just starting to recognize the advantages of BoT’s products.

Credit: Primo Morales Photography. Photo courtesy of Back On Track.

Recently, 2 Million Dollar NRCHA rider Todd Crawford also started singing BoT’s praises:

Back On Track’s joint and muscle support products are made of a unique wellness textile. The textile is a synergy of ancient Chinese experience and modern scientific textile technology. During the manufacturing of polyester-or polyester fibres, the ceramic particles are fused into the fibres. The ceramic particles have a strong reflective property, which when worn against the body works to help stimulate circulation through far infrared radiation.

It is well established and documented that long wave infrared radiation increases blood circulation. This helps to prevent injury, manage chronic pain symptoms, and speed up the recovery process. All are invaluable in helping you and your animals live a comfortable, active lifestyle.

BoT has supplied the NRCHA Stakes with an all-product sponsorship. In 2013, the company will sponsor five major NRCHA events and affiliates can contact the association directly for products at a discounted price.

For more information about Back On Track, check out:  www.backontrack.com/ca

March is Out!

cialis canadian pharmacy

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Christmas, wreath, barn

Pic by Jenn Webster

Procrastinators take note! There are exactly 10 days until Christmas Day. And that means, if you haven’t started your shopping yet – you better get crackin’! Luckily, My Stable Life is here to help with some last minute gift ideas. According to Canada Post, December 19 is the latest suggested mailing date for Xpressposting a parcel to a loved one within Canada. So if you’d prefer to stay out of the craziness of the malls, here are some wonderful suggestions for all of the horse people in your life.



Ranch Organics

Ranch Organics

The gift that keeps on giving! Send someone you love something truly pleasurable for the senses, each season from the ranch. Sweet Grass for Spring; Rose Geranium for Summer; Lavender for Fall and Cedar Wood for Winter. When the seasons change, the ranch hands at Ranch Organics will pack up your special gift and send it to your loved one – with only a one-time shipping fee!

Options include the Goat Milk Soap Set (1 Basin and 1 Tub size Goat Milk Soap) $64; the Wash/Lotion Duo (2- 8 oz pump bottles) $110; Ranch-size Gift Crate including Wash/Lotion Duo and Goat Milk Soap Set $175; or the set pictured above of Cedar Wood Lotions and soaps $64.


Charm Bridles

Charm Bridles

Jewelry for your trusty steed and best friend! There are charms for almost every special occasion, so why not also for your horse? These unique hand-made brow bands feature everything from turquoise gems, to flowers and everything in between. Gorgeous gemstones, sparkle, letters and even bullets to adorn your pal. All beautifully arranged to your preference.





mecate reins

Horsehair Mecate

Watch your man’s eyes light up when he finds a beautiful set of mecate reins under the tree this year! This high quality horsehair mecate by Jose Ortez is available online from Frontier Western Shop and is made from tightly twisted mane hair. Available in different color combinations. $109.95



work king jeans

Fleece-Lined Jeans

Got a hard working guy? Make sure he stays warm outside this winter with fleece-lined jeans from Work-King! These jeans have a polyester fleece lining, making them better for cold weather than any other pair of denim pants. They are machine washable and come in a relaxed fit – making those winter chores a breeze. Available at Sears!




kids play teepee

Play Teepees

What kid doesn’t love their own little playhouse getaway? These teepees offer the ‘fort’ experience anywhere you want them to play. Made of 100% cotton, duck cloth (canvas-type) fabric. Available in black and white reiner, brown and cream longhorn and pink with a black buffalo. So cute and so western! With poles $199.99.

Growing Up Western

Harry the Horse, the official Calgary Stampede mascot, is always a hit with the kids!  If you visited the centennial celebration of the Stampede this year, this cuddly, plushy toy makes the perfect gift for a little one.  In another 100 years, they’ll be a collector’s item! But beware – once these are in the arms of your child, you’ll never get it back! And if you’re in need a gift in a real hurry, these are available at many Alberta Co-Op Gas station convenience stores.



Alberta whisky cake

Alberta Whisky Cake

This cake is sure to be the talk of the town! Alberta Whisky Cakes are made from the finest ingredients to provide a rich and savoring flavor, making it the ideal dessert. Each cake is baked with the perfect blend of Canadian Whisky and all natural flavors. Now available in two tantalizing flavors – Canadian Maple and Chocolate.


2 Weeks 'till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

photo by Krista Kay

We’re setting up the tree this weekend at the log house, so it’s all about tree and gift ornaments.

photo by Krista Kay

Wee, Teenager and I have used a particular recipe for ornaments – from a 2003 Martha Stewart issue – several times over the years. It’s a simple afternoon project. Or, in the case of Western Horse Review Managing Editor, Dainya Sapergia, who was tasked with creating a few western-styled examples for our Christmas photo shoot – a 1:00 a.m.-night-before-the-shoot project.

It’s how we occasionally roll here.

The western cookie cutters I mentioned in my 3 Weeks ’till Christmas post would work really well for this application.

Simply mix together one cup of cinnamon and 1/4 cup applesauce. Then stir in 1/2 cup white craft glue. Roll it together, let it sit for an hour, and then roll it out about 1/4 inch thick, cut out your ornaments (remember to poke a hole with a straw for hanging it) and bake them in the oven at 200° for about 2 hours, flipping once to keep them flat.

photo by Krista Kay

Once they are cool and dry, you can decorate them with glitter sand or whatever you choose. Here’s the link to the original Martha Stewart recipe for Cinnamon Bird Ornaments, there is a full step-by-step included and a few Martha-perfected decorating tips.

Caveat: to avoid any emergency trips to the dentist or emergency room, remember to let your family know these are inedible ornaments!

Finally, if you’re looking for a few homemade gift tag ideas, I love the selection at www.eatdrinkchic.com, particularly these vintage typographic beauties.

Simple download the template from this post, and print them out. I used a few textured, sandy old letterhead sheets I had hanging around. Pretty!

Happy decorating!

P.S. If you haven’t yet, be sure to take part in our Grand Christmas Giveaway and treat yourself to the opportunity to win a

gorgeous handcrafted belt by Paige Albrect. It’s a good thing, as Martha would say.

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