Monday, January 21, 2019

In the Kitchen with Courtney Shepard - Flank Steak Tacos with Fresh Chimichurri and Salsa


Long before I became a writer, I went to cooking school. I studied traditional French cuisine, and though I love the richness and flavors of French food, my favorite is Mexican. 

The bright flavors and bright colors of Mexican cuisine get my mouth watering and my taste buds jumping for joy. 

In fact, I try to keep a vat of fresh salsa in the fridge at all times.

My favorite recipe is:

A delicious flank steak taco with fresh chimichurri and salsa.

Ingredients

For the steak marinade:

½ cup vegetable oil 
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
5 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 ½ pounds flank steak

For salsa:

6 vine ripened tomatoes
½ large red onion, chopped
1 1/2 limes freshly squeezed
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Jalapeno or ¼ Habanero pepper diced
½ teaspoon salt to taste

For chimichurri:

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
3-4 cloves garlic , finely chopped or minced
2 small red chilies , or 1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon finely chopped chili)
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 level teaspoon coarse salt
pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)


Instructions

1. To make the marinade, mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and pour into a plastic bag with a resalable mouth or an airtight container. Place the meat in the marinade inside the bag, seal and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

2. To make the salsa, place all the ingredients in a bowl, season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Make the chimichurri and let sit.

4. When you are ready to serve, heat your grill until it is very hot, 10-15 minutes. Remove the meat from the plastic bag and discard the marinade. Place it on the grill grate and grill until well-seared and dark brown on one side, 4-5 minutes. Flip the steak and continue to grill until the interior meat is slightly less done than you want it to be when you eat it, 3-4 minutes for medium or 2-3 for medium-rare. Transfer the meat onto a cutting board, loosely cover with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 7-10 minutes. Slice it on bias against the grain.

5. While the meat is resting, warm the corn tortillas on the grill until they are softened, 1 minute or so on each side.

6. When ready to assemble your tacos, place a few slices of meat at the bottom of a corn tortilla and top it off with a few tablespoons of chimichurri and fresh salsa.

7. Garnish it with sliced cucumbers and cilantro leaves. Repeat the same process with the rest of the tacos and serve.

I hope you like them!


Unbalanced
Unbalanced Series
Book 1
Courtney Shepard

Genre: Urban fantasy, light romance

Publisher: Champagne Books

Date of Publication: June 1st, 2015

ISBN: 9781771551502
ASIN: B00Y6A2RVU

Number of pages: 224
Word Count: 75,000

Cover Artist: Trisha FitzGerald

Tagline: Four sister, one destiny.

Book Description:

Every generation four sisters with power over earth, air, fire, and water are born to fight against a fanatical, secret faith. The Order exists only to sacrifice the sisters for their power. With each success their strength and control grows. They have never failed, for their rule depends on it.

The sisters, separated at birth, are unaware of what hunts them...but they are coming.

A handsome stranger discovers Asha in hiding, and swears allegiance to her cause. She falls for him; though he is not who he says he is. Betrayed and imprisoned inside the Order, Asha is without her power for the first time in her life.

As the war heats up haunting secrets and true motivations are revealed, but the sisters must unite and override their instincts and trust the untrustworthy if they are to fight their terrifying destiny.


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Excerpt:

With a crack and rumble, the ground surrounding the cabin broke apart and water burst from the earth. It sprayed as strong as any fire hose up and over the cabin. The pounding force was like a waterfall in reverse, and the flames sputtered and died.
She had never seen anything like it, an enormous water fountain extinguishing fire burning that hot. The cabin door, charred and still smoking, flew off its hinges and onto the flooded grass.
Three figures ran out into the early morning glare. Asha took off her helmet and slouchy hood, but her eyes weren’t playing tricks. She could see them clearly, even across the distance, and her stomach dropped. They stopped short, facing an army with guns raised. No.
“Fire!”
“Stop!” Her scream was too late; the soldiers fired. She didn’t have time to act; they were sitting ducks. She prepared for their thrashing bodies, but like a swarm of hovering locusts, the bullets stopped in mid-air and dropped.
What? She couldn’t get her mind around the scene unfolding before her. She’d lost control of her body. Her muscles wouldn’t move.
“Hold your fire,” Clay shouted, but the soldiers continued shooting.
His brothers were the only ones not attacking. They had to be as shocked by the falling bullets as she was. She couldn’t blame them. She was as still and as useless as a rock, unable to move or act, only watch in growing disbelief. Three young women stood against an army.
“Asha,” yelled one of the girls, her eyes were even brighter green than Clay’s. “We’re your sisters. We’ve been looking for you.”

Sisters?

About the Author:


Courtney Shepard is a freelance writer living on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. After initially studying for a career in journalism, she switched to fiction writing.


Unbalanced is the first book in the Unbalanced Series published by Champagne Books.





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Poetry Corner with Sara E. Tall


First I would like to thank Creatively Green Mom for having me.  While I have enjoyed reading through the recipes on this site, I don’t really cook.  So  rather than torture your taste buds I decided I would share a poem I wrote with you all instead.

I put a lot of time and effort into this poem.  I honestly think I did more research for it than some of my books. It is patterned after my own soul.  I would love to hear what you all think!


Roses may be red
And violets may be blue,
But peaches must be pink
Lest things fall out of sync.
For there are majestic mountains and fantastic fountains
And birds Soaring high in the sky.
There are odes to blackberries, strawberries
Raspberries, blueberries and even elderberries.
Even Nectarines and Tangerines get their day in the sun,
And a Clementine to a Valentine makes for a wise one!
But their cousin’s virtues remain unsung
On its phonetics they are hung.
It wonders how it feels to burn with desire
And wouldn’t fanning the flames cause a wildfire?
It cannot bemoan its sorrowful soul
Followed so cleverly by an areole.
And though, less unfortunate, that with baited breath
It will never taste the kiss of death,
Still it longs for the whisperings of sweet love
As magnificent as the stars above
Ignorance may be bliss
But to never bask in true love’s kiss?
Never tossed to and fro by a raging sea
And crying out to the waves, "Oh, Agony!"
Speak not of it thumping on the floor
Lest we lose the chance to say nevermore,
And unlike the far less interesting there
It can never be pared with Gossomere.
It has no friend among daze, maze or blaze.
Never to raze, raise, or feel the sun’s rays.
Aghast it watches as wood
Is so carelessly paired with blood.

But it will not go quietly into the night,
It will end its bitter plight.
For though the world be dark and cold
All that glitters isn’t orange.

So in case you didn’t guess, patterned after my own soul just means that I love to laugh.  I wasn’t lidding about the research though.  I must have read 100 poems and spent hours poring over thesauruses to bring this too you all. I hope this poem at least made you smile!  Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing what you all think of Misfit’s Rise!


Sara

Misfit’s Rise
Alpha
Book 1
Sara E. Tall

Genre: YA Fantasy



Date of Publication: November 29, 2018

ISBN: 9780359258277

Number of pages: 268
Word Count: 82, 527

Cover Artist: Sara Eatough

Tagline: A Half-Fae misfit returns to the Magical Realm of her birth to discover it’s far from the fairy tale she imagined.

Book Description:

A century after the Mages of Earth found sanctuary in an underground Realm, those whose magic is sub-par or whose half-breed heritage leaves them powerless and forced into exile back on Earth. They can’t have them tainting the magic of the others, after all. 

As a Fae/Human hybrid, Billie should fit right in. Except, she’s anything but powerless, making her a misfit among misfits. When her powers nearly destroy a human home, she's given a chance to return. Returning to the Realm has always been Billie’s dream, but the Realm is anything but a fairy tale.

Despite its claims of acceptance and equality, ancient rivalries between the Realm’s magical species are threatening to rip it apart. Billie somehow manages to land herself in the middle, a dangerous place for an outcast to be. What’s more, the powerful magic that brought her there suddenly vanishes, leaving her vulnerable to the attacks of those who think a misfit doesn’t belong in the Realm.

Staying in the Realm is her only chance to live life as a true Mage, but it could cost her life.

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Excerpt 3:
She still didn’t say anything, letting me wallow in that silence before the thunder broke, her eyes firmly fixed on the kitchen table to the left of me.
“What’s the rule, Billie?" Her voice was almost inaudible.
I blinked. “What?"
“The rule,” she repeated, still not looking at me. I didn’t know why that bugged me, but it did. “What’s the rule?"
“Don’t use … it.” 
“And what’s it?” 
I didn’t want to say it. Nothing good ever happened when I used the “m” word, but there was no way around it.
“Magic,” I whispered.
 And then came the thunder.
“Then why did you use magic?!” The scream seemed to rip itself out of her chest. Finally, she looked at me, her blue eyes almost black and her cheeks bright red.
I took a step back. She’d yelled at me before, but never like this. Granted, I did get sent to the police, but still. This was … unsettling.
“I told you.” My lip trembled. “It was an accident.” 
She shot me a glare, and I blushed.
“All right, so it wasn’t accident per se, but I had no idea it’d be that—“ 
“Why did you do it?” she snarled, cutting me off.
I swallowed. “They were making fun of Ana.”
That stopped her. It’s hard not to feel protective of Ana. She was way too sweet to deal with all the crap that got heaped on her.
But Mom’s sympathy only went so far. “You blew up their living room.” 
“It was insured,” I said. “Probably.” 
She sucked in a breath. “Is this a game to you, Billie?"
 I bit back my sarcastic comeback. Too bad, because it was a good one, but my survival was probably more important. “Look, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” 
She glared at me, her eyes almost slits. That was what I’d said at the end of last year, when I’d made all the diplomas fly off the table at our middle school graduation. Thankfully, they attributed that to a gust of wind. And I’d done everyone a favor, anyway. Middle school graduation was a stupid idea to begin with, but Mom hadn’t seen my side then, either.
Her face twisted like she was trying to say something, but eventually she just sighed and looked away. An apology always derailed her.
“Just go to bed,” she croaked. Turning away from me. For her, the conversation was over, but I didn’t move.  She needed more time to calm down before I brought this up, but it looked like I didn’t have a choice.
I took a deep breath. “You know, if you let me practice controlling my magic, then maybe —” 
“We’re not having this conversation again.” She didn’t even let me finish the sentence. Typical.
“We’ve never had this conversation.” My tone sounded so much like hers, we both paused for a second.
Then she said, “You have no idea how to use magic.” 
I wanted to shake her. “Maybe because you won’t let me practice!” How could she not see that the two were connected? Maybe she was willfully trying not to.
“No,” she said, her whisper somehow sounding like a shout. Her tone made it clear the conversation was over. But I was just getting started.
“Why?” The word was out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“What did you say?” she shot back, but she knew exactly what I had said.
I bit my lip. We had barely started, and I was already freaking out. But I was not backing down, not this time. “You’ve never told me why.” 
She shook her head, though she was avoiding my eyes. “Billie, go—”
“Why can’t I use magic?” I cut her off.
It took her a second to choose her words. Finally, she said, “It’s dangerous.” 
“Yeah, well, pretending my magic doesn’t exist is dangerous too.” That also slipped out of my mouth before I could stop it. Mom didn’t look any angrier though, which was a small comfort.
“Magic doesn’t belong here, Billie. Humans don’t understand. That’s why we went to the Realm in the first place.”
I’d heard this before.
“So, I don’t belong here.” I hadn’t, however, said this before.
Mom sighed and avoided my look again as she said, “The Union believes half-humans would be more comfortable in the human world.” 
“Then the Union is wrong!” I hadn't meant for that to come out quite so loud. I wasn’t supposed to get angry, as that would only set her off too. But she just wouldn’t listen.
Mom gritted her teeth. “They won’t see it that way.” 
I bit down to keep myself from spontaneously yelling again. Making her angrier wasn't
going to get me what I wanted. I had to stay in control of myself if I wanted it to work this time.
“Have you asked them?” 
She looked away as she said, “I don’t have too. I know them.” I could have sworn I saw her eyes darken.
I had the sudden urge to rip my hair out. It was like she was trying to be obnoxiously vague. “What is that supposed to mean?” 
Her eyes widened, and her lips parted, like she was going to say something. But then she just shook her head. “Nothing. Go to bed.” 
And just like that, we were back where we started. And I was no closer to getting her on my side.
When I didn’t move, she stepped toward me. I jumped back and held up my hands out of reflex. “No, not until you tell me.” 
But once again, she proved to be just as stubborn as me. As she gently guided me backward I placed both my hands on her chest, holding her steady. “If we just … showed them what I can do …” 
“Wake up, Billie!” I pulled my arms away quickly, stunned, but at least she was finally looking me in the eye. “This isn’t one of your fairy tales. The Magi aren’t …”  And there she went, looking away again.
I gave her a chance to finish, even though I knew she was not going to, before I said, “Aren't what?”
She didn’t move. She just stared at the wall, her chest rising and falling. But just when I decided she didn’t hear me she whispered, “They don’t like things that don’t behave the way they’re supposed too.” 
I raised my eyebrows. It was so rare to hear her talk about magic in complete sentences. And she had never said anything like this before. There was something in her tone that told me that wasn’t just social commentary. It was personal.



About the Author:

Sara's enjoyed creating fantastic stories since she was old enough to hold a play sword, around the time she learned how to walk. Gradually she learned to direct her creative energy into writing, and it’s been a downward spiral ever since then. When she's not writing she’s probably either dancing or reading random wikipedia pages. She also enjoys spending time in her part-time home away from home, Yellowstone National Park, which is the most fantastical land she's ever been too.



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Release Day Blitz Island of the Flesh Eaters by Thomas S. Flowers


Island of the Flesh Eaters
Thomas S. Flowers

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Darker Worlds Publishing

Date of Publication: Jan 21, 2019

ISBN: 1791994369
ASIN: B07KMMP2ZM

Number of pages: 100 eBook
Number of pages: 137 paperback
Word Count: 27,500

Cover Artist: Michael Bray

Tagline: The Dead Have Risen to Eat the Living!

Book Description:

Houston, Texas, 1985, while investigating the affluent and seedy Gasper family, Rachel Hawkins, a junior reporter with the Galveston Daily News, stumbles upon a story that will make her career.

Billy Gasper, son to the billionaire tycoon Gasper Family is missing. His yacht found near the Port of Galveston, abandoned all but for a seemingly deranged captain. Where are the crew? And where is Billy?

Meanwhile, while searching for his missing sister who was last seen with her boyfriend Billy Gasper, RadioShack manager Mark joins an ex-military security team hired by Mr. Gasper to find his son. Hidden away, Hawkins joins Mark and the hired goons as they race across the Gulf of Mexico to a private tropical island resort.

All attempts at radio communicate with the island have failed. Its as if the entire resort with hundreds of vacationers and staff have disappeared.

What is really going on? And what will the rescue team find when they get there?


Chapter 1

Mary screamed.
Shocked by the sound of her own voice, she pressed her hands to her mouth, muffling the terror rising from her lungs in hitched breaths, spasming violently. She hugged her elbows against her sides, could see them. A slow lurching gait, shuffling outside her hiding place. Someone was shouting, a piercing howl as if they were experiencing the worst pain they had ever felt. Swallowing hard, she peered between the planks of wood of the hut. Pool equipment and toys and floats piled around her. If she moved—God! They would hear. And they would come. And they would consume her flesh. Just like they had Billy, her boyfriend. And Greg and Stacy. Pam. Vicky. Sammy, too. And most of the resort staff. Torn apart and consumed just like in a movie she saw once about cannibals in the rainforest of South America—except these flesh eaters were dead. 
What was left of the pool boy Bruce bumped against the hut.
Mary whimpered into her hand, trying not to look at the ruined corpse walking—somehow—despite all rational sense that he should be dead and buried, not moving around, not eating the flesh of the living. His once muscular arms were now riddled with purplish-yellow bite marks, chunks of meat and nerve exposed. Fingers gnawed to the bone. And his eyes were the worst, glassy and bloodied and horrid, but that wasn't just what bothered her. They were vacant; soulless orbs. As if whatever made him human was gone and lost forever.
He groaned and bumped into the hut again.
Did he know she was in there?
Did he hear her? Smell her?
Breathing rapidly, Mary's hands trembled against her mouth, elbows pressed hard against her ribs. Suddenly she could hear the Eurythmics song Sweet Dreams blasting from the tiny foam speakers around her neck.
"No!" she hissed, fumbling with her Walkman clipped to her large plastic yellow belt, searching for the large red button, silencing the music.
Mary looked between the wood planks again. 
More of the flesh eaters converged on the hut. Drawn by the rhythmic music, herding together like a pool of slow-moving sharks circling in the water.
She stifled a yelp, but not completely, cursing herself silently for accidently rubbing against the Walkman. The living dead began to bang on the outside of the hut. Gnashing teeth and bellowing a loathing, famished lament.
"Please!" she cried.
The wood of the hut groaned against the pressure of the horde of flesh eaters.
Moaning impatiently, cracks began to splinter. A large section busted inward as a bloated waxy arm shot through, grabbing hold of Mary's windbreaker, smearing dark-red grime against the sky-blue bomber.
"No!" she screamed as the dead man pulled her toward the opening in the hut.
Mary held her arms out, pushing against the wall, resisting—unable to keep her gaze from the splintered section in the broken hut wall and the large wood spike that protruded toward her as she inched closer and closer.
She groaned, swatting at the rotting hand that held her.
"Please!" she breathed.
Closer the dead man pulled her.
The wood spike was inches from her face—her eye.
Excited bellowing erupted around her, outside the hut, as if the living dead could smell the inevitable feast. They pounded against the walls, eager and impatient.
The dead man yanked on her again, tearing her windbreaker, pulling her closer.
She sobbed.
The wood spike pierced her eye.
She screamed—an unfathomable utterance.
The pain shot through her face and into her body like an electric bolt. Trembling, she grimaced, biting down, clenching her teeth as the wood pushed deeper inside her eye. Warm runny fluid flowed down her cheek, tasting of salt and iron.
And then the dead rotting man gave one final wrench.
The wood curved up as she slammed into it, penetrating deep and breaking the wood splinter inside her eye socket. The world spun, and she fainted from shock or blood loss, or both, she fell to her knees, ripping her tennis shorts and the skin of her legs.
All around, the walls came down, and the dead had their feast. Grabbing and ripping away shreds of clothing, hair, pounds of meat. The dead, rotting man that still held Mary's blue windbreaker shoved his head through the wood opening and sucked and licked at the juices on the spike, lapping all the moist cream from her burst orb.
Unconscious, Mary was unaware of the things happening to her body.
Unaware as dead, worming fingers clawed into her flesh.
Consuming.
Chewing.
Ravishing her red, oily innards. 


About the Author:

Thomas S. Flowers is an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom Army veteran who loves scary movies, BBQ, and coffee. Ever since reading Remarque’s "All Quiet on the Western Front" and Stephen King’s "Salem’s Lot" he has inspired to write deeply disturbing things that relate to war and horror, from the paranormal to his gory zombie infested PLANET of the DEAD series, to even his recent dabbling of vampiric flirtation in The Last Hellfighter readers can expect to find complex characters, rich historical settings, and mind-altering horror. Thomas is also the senior editor at Machine Mean, a horror movie and book review site that hosts contributors in the horror and science fiction genre.

PLANET of the DEAD and The Last Hellfighter are best-sellers on Amazon's Top 100 lists for Apocalyptic Fiction and African American Horror.

You can follow Thomas and get yourself a FREE eBook copy of FEAST by joining his newsletter. Sign up by vising his website at www.ThomasSFlowers.com











Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cover Reveal - Immerse by Tobie Easton


Immerse
Mer Chronicles
Book 3
Tobie Easton

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Month9Books

Date of Publication: March 19th

ISBN: 978-1-948671-23-1
ASIN: 1948671239

Number of pages: 396

Cover Artist: Beetiful Book Covers

Book Description:

Immerse is the spellbinding and breathless final installment of the Mer Chronicles series where descendants of the Little Mermaid must face deadly magic, shifting alliances, and the dangers of forbidden love.

Lia can’t wait for her parents’ coronation. Now living in the sparkling palace beneath the waves, she sneaks off to Malibu whenever possible to see Clay. Tucked away in an abandoned seaside mansion, Lia and Clay devise a plan to ensure they can stay together forever.

But when an old enemy resurfaces and Lia is restricted to the palace for the safety of all Merkind, she and Clay are ripped apart once more.

She fears not only for Clay, but for her best friend Caspian, who seems to be swimming down a dangerous path. He has invited the conniving Melusine to the coronation ball, convinced she’s capable of change. And no matter how hard Lia fights it, showing up on Caspian’s arm is just the start of Melusine’s insidious return to her life.

With threats Below growing more ominous by the day and a powerful ancient ritual looming, soon the two girls can’t escape each other. As their fates grow increasingly intertwined, Melusine might be the only one who can help Lia find the answers she desperately needs to save everyone she loves and to achieve her happily ever after. But can Lia trust her?

About the Author:

Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she’s grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie hosts book clubs for tweens and teens (so she’s lucky enough to spend her days gabbing about books). She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies.





Friday, January 4, 2019

Meridian Chronicles: Black Widow Curse and The Coven by MD Fryson




Meridian Chronicles: Black Widow Curse and The Coven
Meridian Chronicles 
Book Two
MD Fryson

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

Publisher: AMF Publishing



Date of Publication: Sept. 29th, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-12117-7
ASIN:  B07FDB677Q

Number of pages: 408
Word Count: 91,410

Cover Artist: Todd Engle

Tagline: Dark Paranormal Fantasy

Book Description: 

Exiled from her realm, living with the Black Widow Curse, Spirit Guide is at the whims of the dark one and a dark witch.  Fairy Nymphs may help and a high demon has grown tired of the politics. 

Will she break her curse with her twin soul?

  

Excerpt:

In the empty space above the center of the table a heat emerged and with it a face that appeared through the smoke and flames that engulfed the space above the table.  The demon did not make a total appearance but almost appeared as though he was checking a part of himself through from his own realm.  “Oh, dark sister, you call upon me. What do you wish to know from the dark places I only know?”  the demon asked.
“Oh, dark one, hear my plea. I beg of you to unveil the workings of the curse on Meridian!” Raina shouted out.
The demon answered Raina, with ease. “The curse bestowed on the once-spirit guide is The Black Widow curse, and one that only a dark one can cast.  A dark one born of a demon with powers for only the dark with a heart of black.”
“Dark one, I am in your debt. We understand, on the surface, who has cast this curse on Meridian.  We now need to understand how we may find a way to break this curse,” Raina spoke to the demon.
The demon gave his answer in riddle form.
The being whose work is dark can only be stopped with the twin soul.
 The being you seek is hard to hold.
 Spirit guides who engage with a mortal are not pure of heart in that act, but in the face of true love all remains intact.  
Meridian does not trust herself in her choice.
She will not listen to her inner voice.
So many can enter her mind, her greatest challenge in the true find.
The demon disappeared and was gone from sight.



About the Author:

MD Fryson is a wife and mom to three boys.  When not writing, she likes to read, hike, jog, garden and she loves to travel.  Favorite place aside from the U.S.A. is London England where she has some family. 

One of her favorite authors is Cassandra Clare.  She also likes to read inspirational and anything on astrology.  Lover of all music, she is an equal-genre-tunity.
Apart from her family she can’t live without, is the ocean and beach vacations,  chocolate, coffee and tons of creamer where her husband asks if she would like some coffee to go with her creamer. 

An animal lover of all sorts, horses hold a special place in her heart from when she used to ride, train and show.  




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