So what is it about yoga and horseback riding? @SugarSpiceRanch combines the two for a perfect getaway!

Allison Kara (middle) with yogi friends
Saddles and Mats is one of the favorite events that is held only a few times each year at The Sugar and Spice Ranch. The next will be Labor Day weekend, September 1 ~ 5.

So what is it about yoga and horseback riding? Well, yoga, of course, is good exercise, helps you stretch out tight hamstrings that will assist with comfortable riding. It will create suppleness in your body and with practice will give you great flexibility. Yoga builds core strength and core strength helps with riding posture.

But what’s more is yoga and riding both are about being present. When you are on the mat breathing through the poses, focusing on your body, you are present in the moment. Breath and focus are important when you are riding as well,
allowing you to keep your posture, flow with the
movement of the horse and stay-in-the-moment.

Both yoga and horses make you innately seek the connection, and when it happens, it’s joyful.  It’s why the two activities go together so well and why The Sugar and Spice Ranch is happy to include Saddles and Mats in their Women’s Only packages.

This Labor Day weekend, Allison Kara is returning to The Sugar and Spice Ranch to lead the Yoga sessions. Allison studied at the Kripalu School of Yoga, the premier educational organization 'dedicated to the inquiry into what creates a fulfilled human life. They teach the art and science of yoga to tens of thousands of people each year.' Miss Leigh, the owner of the ranch is delighted to have Allison lead their yoga sessions and help each of their guests to relax and focus while enjoying horseback riding in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

Allison Kara on the mat
If you are interested in joining Saddles and Mats, it's highly recommended you book your all-inclusive stay as early as possible as they are accepting only eight women for this highly sought-after getaway retreat.

In their next few posts, they will give you the scoop on their mother and daughter weekends that will be available throughout the fall. Moms and their daughters or favorite girl get to care for and ride horses together, learn a thing or two about each other and strengthen their bond. It’s a priceless experience! They will also have information about their 2017 summer camps for which they are once again offering early enrollment discounts.

Maria is a contributor to The Sugar & Spice Ranch, "Where's Miss Leigh" Blog, where a similar article was originally published on July 23, 2016.

Sundance Catalog

Guest Blogger: Cozy Mystery Writer Blanche Day Manos @BlancheManos

Photo Credit: Blanche Day Manos
I am so excited to announce that my new friend and cozy mystery Author Blanche Day Manos is our Guest Blogger and will be writing a series of posts about herself, her books, the process and her newest book due out in September. 
Blanche writes in a very genuine, down-home way. If you read some of her blog posts on her website, you'll see what I mean. Having lived most of her life in Oklahoma, she often writes vividly of that place and time, and she incorporates details from her Cherokee heritage into her stories.

From a Classroom to a Murder Mystery

“I have another friend who is a writer,” my neighbor Levern told me. “I’d like you to meet her.”
So, Barbara’s and my mutual friend introduced us. Barbara Burgess and I discovered we were both from small towns, of Cherokee ancestry, and had heard many mysterious stories about the people who lived in the hills of Oklahoma and Arkansas. We collaborated on our first book, The Cemetery Club, and my career as a cozy mystery writer was launched. 
Barbara and I wrote three cozy mysteries together. Grave Shift and Best Left Buried followed our first book, with protagonist Darcy Campbell and her mother, Flora Tucker. Since that time, Barbara has had to take a break from writing because of illness, but I persevered. The fourth Darcy and Flora cozy, Grave Heritage, will be published in September. 

Sometimes people ask me how I got from the classroom to the bookshelf. (I was a kindergarten teacher for many years.) I tell them it was an easy step since I’ve always enjoyed books and writing and encouraged my kindergarteners as well as my son and grandchildren to love reading. As for the genre, well, cozy mysteries are not the hard-core, graphic kind; rather, they are gentler, with most of the violence taking place off-screen.

Although Darcy and Flora’s hometown looks placid and quiet on the surface, such is not the case. This mother-daughter pair faces danger and heart-stopping moments with regularity, but, fortified with coffee and encouraged by Darcy’s old flame, the sheriff of Ventris County, they make sure that justice always wins. A couple of years ago, I began a new series with a new protagonist, Ned McNeil. The first book is Moonlight Can Be Murder. A sequel, Fright of the Silvery Moon is a work in progress. 

A few years ago, I left my native Oklahoma and moved to NWArkansas. It’s a beautiful area, close to my children, and is the perfect place to pursue my writing career. I’ve started a writers’ critique group which meets in my home. We encourage and inspire each other.

Cozy mysteries have satisfactory endings. Life isn’t always like that, but the books I write are! They are great to read when a storm pounds the house or snow settles softly on trees and fence posts. A cup of coffee and a warm fire is the perfect setting for reading, but cozies are intriguing any time of year. Hopefully, the further adventures of Darcy Campbell and Flora Tucker will continue for a good, long while.
I'm thankful to Blanche for sharing her books with us. Please feel free to find Blanche on her website, Facebook or on Amazon and please share this post so that others could learn about her and her writing. I am a big supporter of indie book stores so I would be delighted if you had a look at Blanche's books at your local independent book store. My favorite indie bookstore is Bookworks in Albuquerque, NM.
Photo Credit: Blanche Day Manos

Come back to see the next of Blanche's posts August 1, 2016 ... and leave a comment below to let us know you're a cozy mystery fan.

Journey of a Reluctant Writer

Catch up with my girl Marsha on her adventure into blogging at Journey of a Reluctant Writer. Not only is she baring her soul as a Language Arts teacher who admits that writing is her challenge, but she also has some pretty cool pictures of her recent trip to Cali.

Hey, didn't we all think the Language Arts teacher was supposed to be the perfect writer?

Photo Credit: Journey of a Reluctant Writer