Blunt Talk Sessions Episode One

Blunt Talk Sessions

Episode One

Welcome to the first installment of the Blunt Talk Sessions. I had a whole post planned on something else (inverted nipples, if you must know) but then after a moment of self-doubt and a little bit of depression about something going on in my life, I decided to write instead about Failure, and how to deal with it. More importantly, when do we say to ourselves that something isn’t working, and when do we make the decision to stop trying so hard? When do we give up? How do we know when enough is enough, what we are doing is just not going to get the results we were after when we started? When do we accept failure? How do we move on from it, especially when we have invested a lot of time (and money – not even OUR money in some cases) into our endeavour?

When things don't work blunt talk sessions

We wanted it to work, but clearly it’s not going in the direction we wanted. Not even close. How long do we keep throwing our time and effort (and more money?) at the problem? Have we tried every avenue? Have we thought outside the box? We need to be honest with ourselves – not everything we do works. Not everything we want will happen. Sometimes the will/idea/passion behind it is not enough. We need to think about the whole idea, the big picture and truly think about whether this was “us” to begin with. Why did we start on this road? Why did we jump in? We hoped for the best, right? We wanted to be a success!

I wanted to be a success! I wanted to be proud of myself and I wanted my husband to be proud of me too. If I am honest with myself, I thought it would be easier. What could be easier than selling things online? I mean I understood that business is NOT easy, but what I meant was that I thought it would be SIMPLER. Convenient, stress-free, safe, comfortable – I thought it would be SO SIMPLE and that it would work like a charm and I could FINALLY contribute and not feel so reliant on my husband for everything. Yes, I know he says what’s his is mine and vice versa (and that’s totally true, believe me) but I wanted to ADD, not subtract. I wanted to heap on the pile, not burn it slowly from the middle. So to speak. I haven’t burned anything, promise. Except a candle.

candle_Which smells really nice, by the way. And that’s the thing – the stuff should sell itself! It’s seems to work for everyone else. Just not for me for some reason. So far, anyway. I haven’t given up yet, but I am truly tired of seeing the enormous sales made by other members of my “team” while I just sit there at the bottom of the list with the SAME AMOUNT that I started with. So much as been invested. My time. Money. Patience. Social mechanics. I am not a Facebook fan and yet I bit the bullet and took the step to sign up for a business page, after nearly 2 years of being Facebook free. I am trying. I really am.

What got to me recently is that the people who want to support me can’t really, and the ones who I thought would get involved haven’t even bothered to take a look. Perhaps my friend G is right: I’m not made to sell other people’s sh*t. Perhaps I have a different path to follow, but I know I don’t want to give up just yet. I have a strong will and I am very proud and this is perhaps a dangerous combination when it comes to these things, but it means I won’t give up until I am absolutely sure I cannot make it work and things are bleak and going backward. As I work out what that point is, I will see how to recoup some of the losses and bring something to the table so that I don’t feel so low and useless.

I guess that’s how you deal with it – failure, that is. You make sure that YOU understand the reasons behind giving up. You make sure YOU are happy with the decision you have made and that you really did give it a good college try. So to speak. When it comes to failing, the only person whose opinion you need to worry about, is you. The only person who has the right to question you and knows how to push your buttons (and oh how we know how to make ourselves squirm, don’t we?) is you. But if you can honestly say that you DID do your best and that things just didn’t go the way you were hoping/expecting despite your BEST efforts – then suck it up, take a breath, have a think about how to make it better next time, and MOVE ON. The only thing we control is our own opinion of ourselves. Make it a good one. Be your own best friend. 


Do you need me to be more specific about a topic like this? Something so psychological/esoteric? If you do, let me know and I will elaborate more bluntly. I’m starting off slowly and getting into the swing of this Blunt Talk. As I mentioned, I had another topic (more straight forward and tangible… so to speak! :D) planned but I am someone who lives in the Now, so I felt compelled to write about this topic that was on my mind today. I’ll get to nipples next week.

Blunt Talk Begins

I have decided to create a new category/post type/segment/blog series called ‘Blunt Talk.”

I’m going to talk honestly (thus the “blunt talk”) about the things that people want answers for, but are too scared/ashamed/embarrassed to ask. The weird things, the gross things, the interesting but slightly scary things. You know what I mean, good reader. Things like… ingrown toenails (and how to get rid of them) and yeast infections, and why it’s good to clean your ears (but not with cu-tips ) and better to use headphones rather than earbuds. Maybe it’s things you never learned from your mum (or dad) or it’s things that you heard ABOUT but never really understood, or perhaps urban legends that you’d like to know if they are true. I’ll answer as best as I can (after much research if necessary, of course) and try and come up with reasons and/or solutions if it’s something that can be fixed/cured/treated. Some topics will be from personal experience, some will simply be things that I know people don’t “talk about” but would like to know the answer to (because I know I would!) and hopefully some topics will be from you, the reader.

I’m going to set up an anonymous question thingy, and of course you are free to email me or comment (if you’re feeling brave or your question is something you don’t mind being associated with) on this post and I’ll include it in the next sessions of Blunt Talk.

I’m also going to start handing out my natural herbal/plant remedies where applicable. I’ll talk about what I am/what I am doing too, if anyone is interested.

I’ll start tomorrow (Saturday) with my first topic. Come back tomorrow if you want to know what it is, or subscribe to my site feed :)

Capsule Wardrobe Update

Here’s a little update on my Capsule Wardrobe experience so far!

  • My capsule wardrobe, it works! It’s made my life a lot easier. I know exactly what I have to wear and I waste no time choosing it in the morning.
  • Even when I include my workout and dog walking clothes, my capsule item count is lower than I thought it would be.
  • If I do my best to keep everything in the same place after it’s washed and folded, my cupboard is so neat and tidy it’s so awesome.
  • I have barely anything to do when it comes to laundry time! I have so few items and I wear them through the week (I have enough capsule items for that) that I only have to do one load on the weekend. That’s pretty cool, and energy efficient.
  • My new outlook on my wardrobe has even encouraged my husband to tidy his side of the cupboard! He hasn’t gotten rid of anything, but his wardrobe is pretty minimal already, being an army man. He has a lot of tshirts, but that’s it really.

I still haven’t taken the boxes to the thrift store – I need to check when I’m allowed to bring in items for consignment. I want to make SOMETHING out of this. Even if it’s just a little bit. 

We took all the extra dog stuff (ended up being a large cardboard box full) to the nearest local animal shelter and they were grateful, but I was expecting a LITTLE bit more excitement, I have to admit. I mean I didn’t want a parade or streamers or anything! But a “Thanks, this will make the dogs happy!” would have been nice. We got a nod, a “yes, that’s nice” when I showed them some of the cool stuff in the box and then they wandered off. I know they’re busy but if you rely on public donations etc… a little bit more… public interaction would work, is what I guess I’m trying to say. ENTHUSIASM. That’s the word I’m looking for. They were grateful, but not particularly enthusiastic. I think that’s what kinda got to me a little bit. HOWEVER, I do understand the sad realities of animal shelters and working there. The sad truth behind the daily grind – finding food, cleaning cages, watching dogs and cats pine for owners who abandoned them, or shut down from years of abuse, or being overlooked because they’re quiet and shy. And the golden oldies being ignored for the cute little puppies or kittens. It gets to your heart after a while. I do understand this. I did a lot of work with shelters, I know what it’s like. So while I understand the jaded numbness, perhaps taking the enthusiasm from the person offering things and feeling a LITTLE brighter about it all, just in that moment.. that might work?  I greatly respect and admire people who volunteer and work for places like that. I know it’s hard. I wish I could win the lottery and give them all a HUGE donation. Or buy a huge farm with a big warm house and lots of land and high fences so I could adopt ALL the animals (goats, chickens, sheep and everything else too) and let them live out their lives in a sanctuary with freedom. It’s a big dream.


In other news:

Blue Apron

We got our first Blue Apron delivery on Saturday morning! We’ve prepared two of the three meals already and tonight we will make the final dish I think. We made the first meal together, and I made the second meal (pasta) for his lunch on Monday. It was definitely outside our comfort zone, but we stuck to the recipe instructions exactly and it all turned out great. If you ever get the chance and/or inclination – give Blue Apron a try… It’s exciting (and a little terrifying!) diving in like that, but the recipes are pretty easy to follow and they give you ALL the ingredients already measured out perfectly.


A tiny bit of inspiration

A little bit of inspiration to put a smile on your dial:


The trick is remembering that at all times far more is happening on your behalf than your physical senses will ever reveal.

Like right now.

Because of how much you’re loved,
    The Universe

inspiration jewelry little things

PS. Pity, huh? I mean, you can’t even see the colors you emit when you laugh, your wings ruffle when you blush, or your friends in the unseen walking in your footsteps, sleeping cuddled by your side, and making those wacky finger horns over your head in photos.


  • Notes from the Universe, – Mike Dooley

Capsule wardrobe update

Capsule wardrobe fiddling


I did it! I overcame my natural instincts to cling to everything, to hang on to everything “just in case” and to keep things that are sentimental or that someone gave me and I felt bad giving away.

I did another mighty clothing purge a week ago and got rid of ANOTHER full box of clothes! 

When I get a chance, I will take it all (consolidated, of course) to the local thrift shop and see about getting a consignment for it all :) That would be awesome, if I could make some money from it. I could maybe make back some money from all the expenditures I’ve made recently (or should I say, my dear husband has made) for my jewelry business.

Most capsule wardrobes are 33 to 42 items, with the majority fixing on 37 items for some reason.

I haven’t counted my capsule wardrobe yet, but it’s most likely in the 40 to 42 range, if I exclude (which you are supposed to) sleep clothes and workout clothes. If you don’t count socks and undies, then I’m in even better shape! 😀

I was very strict in my choices, and I tried EVERYTHING on and decided how many other items it would go with, as is suggested by the capsule wardrobe gurus.  I found that a lot of the hand-me-down items given to me really didn’t suit me, if I was honest with myself – and I felt this was a good time to be honest! Trying to build my personal style got so much easier as I found what I really liked, what fitted me well, what went with at least 2 other things versus the stuff I was just hanging on to for some strange guilt excuse (Given to me! Got it free! I would feel terrible if they knew I had just put it in a box to give away!) or something like that. Your capsule wardrobe is meant to be filled with your absolute favourite pieces of clothing – the ones you can’t live without, that make you look and feel good whenever you wear them. I also added “make me feel comfortable” to my list of things I wanted for my capsule.

So here are a couple of shots of my TEENY TINY CAPSULE WARDROBE!
Everything to the left of that black bag hanging there, and above and below it. Now this also includes my running/dog walking/workout clothes and my sleep clothes (pajamas and comfy items that I don’t generally wear out the house)


capsule wardrobe, my stylecapsule wardrobe my style capsule wardrobe my style

That’s really not a lot of stuff, now that I look more closely at the photos. Especially excluding socks, undies, workout/exercise/comfy clothes. I should really go and count them all, right?


In building my capsule wardrobe and general personal style idea, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest. It’s a magical place. There are so many different ideas floating around, so many boards on just about anything you can think of, it’s actually a little bit overwhelming! I could spend hours on there. That’s something I would NEVER have thought I would EVER say! It’s a bit scary, really! But in seriousness, I’ve found many great links through it – not just for style, but for other things I am interested in as well. Plus, I use it extensively for my Chloe and Isabel online boutique marketing.

If you have any questions, or suggestions, feel free to comment.



Teeny Tiny teeny TEENY tiny capsule wardrobe

For the last few months (even before we left Germany) I’ve been pondering the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I had a lot of clothes, mostly given to me by awesome people when I had nothing – but only a few items that I actually chose for myself and brought with me from back home in South Africa. 90% of what I had was not really my “style” and as I have been pondering and thinking and formulating and percolating the idea of what my style actually is I have come to the realisation that I can live with a lot less, but still have a sense of classic style. That’s what my style is – old school, not vintage per say (but I DO love vintage 30’s 40’s and 50’s obviously, however I’m not really built for them) but the old classics and pieces that never really go out of fashion. I like comfortable, simple and clean lines, and now that I’ve lost weight I can wear pretty much all the things I like. Thing is, I don’t own a lot of the things I like – I have things that other people liked, but they gave to me. I’m not ungrateful – that’s totally not what I mean – I’m simply stating how things turned out.

When our HHG arrived, I made my first task a “layout” of everything. Absolutely EVERYTHING I owned. That included shoes (most of them I had never worn, as they were just a TINY bit too big for me or I’d never had an occasion to wear them… or they were just NOT my style and I took them anyway because who doesn’t like free stuff, right?) and underwear and scarves and everything else. I got rid of at least 70% of the things I had. I learned in my research on capsule wardrobes, that your “exercise” stuff, and your “fancy” stuff and your “sleep” stuff are not included in the capsule count – this made me happy, as I have a lot of exercise clothes, thanks to my previous horse riding and dog walking “jobs” and my current 3 dog circus daily walking.

I also decided, 1 week after our HHG arrived, to go through everything one more time and get rid of more jerseys, sweatshirts and jackets. My mother in law was visiting at the time and she took a few tops and things that were her style, or her sister’s and even a piece for her mother (that just tells you that the items I had really were NOT “me” hey?) so that helped me too. The rest all went into a donate box which is CHOCKA BLOCK full of stuff now. I’m quite proud of myself, actually. If I force myself, I think might even be able to cut it down some more – but if I do that, I need to know that I can buy the pieces I WANT at that time, so I’m holding off on that until I’ve made some money with my Chloe and Isabel boutique. I want to be able to do these things on my terms, with my own money. I feel so guilty using my husband’s money! I know he says “what’s mine is yours!” but it still irks me. I used to earn my own way. It’s hard to rely on someone else COMPLETELY for things. Just really hoping my jewelry sales take off, because that would be totally awesome. Word of mouth works way better than trying to market yourself to a new audience all the time. I know this well from my photography days. I never even put out a flyer. I had business cards, for a while, but mostly it was just word of mouth from happy riders that got my name out there. I don’t know ANYONE here, and not being on Facebook is (and I admit this very grudgingly) somewhat of a road bump in all this. But I’m not going back to it. Nuh uh.

Now that I have unfettered access to Joann’s and Hobby Lobby and every other fabric and sewing store imaginable, I can also start buying the proper things to MAKE what I want! Vintage or otherwise – I have patterns for just about everything I need. I just need to get going. In the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf – JUST DO IT!

No more pansy ass procrastination! No more excuses! No more “tomorrow I will” putting it off. TODAY! TODAY! TODAY!


A house becomes a home

While my husband went to drop his mother off at the truck stop, and made sure she got off safely in her Peterbilt, I took the dogs for our first long morning walk without daddy. Long leads + squirrels + early morning cool == CRAZY ODIN. Thankfully Gina and Azzie behaved, because Odin drove me NUTS with is behaviour. My arms were so weak by the time we got home I could barely lift them! If we walk on the streets again, I am using the short leads – LONG WALK OR NOT! *shakes fist*

After that, when we were all home again, we had breakfast (leftovers from last night) and then got stuck in to some of the little things left to do in our home. We sorted the dog toys (donate/throw out) and all their leads and harnesses. Tomorrow I will sort out all their medications and tablets and wipes and that kind of thing. We also put up our photos and pictures and posters and metal posters. Rosie is back in her proper spot above my “office” area. We even got to hang BOTH the soccer frames up, because we have so much space! The dog photos are on the wall next to the back windows and we put the metal posters and license plates and things up the stairs and on the landing. It looks pretty cool! We tried putting up the Firefly (yes, Serenity) wall vinyl up, but it slowly peeled off, so we will do as the instructions say and wash it first and let it dry. We didn’t read the instructions the first time around… *hangs head*

Our photos that we took of our travels are up on the wall in the dining room area and there’s LOTS of space for more. We have a working printer now, so we can even print our own if we get the right paper. I did it back home – as long as you get the quality stuff and proper ink, it’s just the same as the shops do it.

Hmm. What else? Oh yes, I made my first sale! My mother in law fell in love with the Jardins du Midi perfume and also a few of the bracelets and earrings. She couldn’t afford to buy EVERYTHING she wanted, so she just got the perfume and a bracelet for herself (the Sunset on the Seine, leather wrap bracelet) and one for her sister this time. But she says that whenever she pops in, she will definitely buy something as she really likes the selection. She’s kind of a Chloe-Bel – she likes the classic stuff, but also some of the more trendy stuff. I was so thrilled to make my first sale. Just wish I could make some more before October is over – you get some pretty cool incentives if you do. I’ve just got to work out how to market it better – in a friendlier and more relaxed way. I don’t want to SELL SELL SELL to everyone. I want the products to speak for themselves – they really ARE gorgeous and worth it. So I now need to sort my OWN image out and get it out there that way.

home comforts - tea and shiny jewelry - chloe and isabel

I discovered too! Wow it makes things SO easy! You can create flyers and brochures and they are SO easy to make but so professional and sharp looking at the same time. I made one for all the October goodies that are up for grabs – you can send them to pretty much ALL social media, including LinkedIn and Google+, which works for me, as I don’t have Facebook. I’ve had a good think about creating another Facebook account, but I really just cannot be bothered. I just really need to work on the social media I already have. Instagram, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest. I’m sure I’m forgetting one… but I can’t think of it right now.

My business cards arrived from VistaPrint!! They look so professional and cool! I’m glad I took their recommendations (they do it as you create things – and you can make SO MANY branded things, from tshirts to business cards to tote bags to cups!) I gave some to my mother in law and she will hand them out when she heads home (only in November, but that’s ok – it’s still a huge help to me!) and husband says he will take some to work eventually – just not straight away as he’s not even started yet and it would be bad form I think, to start handing out things when you’ve just arrived!

home based - Chloe and Isabel jewelry

I’ll just have to look AWESOME when I come visit him or come fetch him from work :) I shall BE Shiny, and they shall WANT Shiny. I might even work that into my tag line… Be Shiny and they will Want Shiny.  Or something. It’s a work in progress!

Pretty sure that despite all the good food (and bad food) we’ve been eating recently (before our HHG arrived and I could cook properly) I’ve actually lost weight… can’t check though as our poor scale seems to have shuffled off this mortal coil. *sigh* We’ll have to get ANOTHER one. This will be our FOURTH scale. They don’t make them like they used to, that’s for sure. Back home, we have the SAME scale we’ve had for about 20 years. Works great.

Husband begins in-processing tomorrow… he’s a little nervous, and a bit sad to be ending this lovely long holiday we’ve had together! We’re lucky in that: we can be “on holiday” anywhere, as long as we are together, with the dogs. Oh and he got a SUPER COOL haircut yesterday at a PROPER barber shop! It’s called Dapper and Company Men’s Grooming Lounge, and he loved the whole authentic barber shop experience. He was there for 2 hours and got a haircut (an undercut) and a great shave.

While he was out, I went through my clothes again and my mother in law had a look through what I was donating and grabbed a few things for herself as well.

I think that’s it for an update for now!

I’ll be back with more!

Thanks for reading and STAY SHINY!


Adventures in Americaland: Part Bee

And in this adventure story, there will be hurricanes, DNA results, surgeries, Lyme disease, new old cars, a road trip to the rural South of Georgia, new opportunities, broken things, fixed things and lots and lots of boxes.

Adventures in Georgia - Tip of the Hurricane

First – the hurricane. If you are even vaguely aware of the weather around the world, you would have seen in the news the swath of destruction left behind by Hurricane Joaquim. Luckily for us, it focused its rage on South Carolina, and we only got the tail/tip – but it was pretty heavy even then. Pouring, driving rain for 5 days straight, windy and ranging from very cold and wet to very warm and wet. Strange times. The dogs and I got soaked, generally (I went through a lot of socks) as I wasn’t keeping them indoors anymore, because we were in the middle of discovering/mentally mapping our neighbourhood and checking out all the walk routes we had on offer. Note: there are LOADS of different routes, some nicer than others, some to be avoided in the mornings (too many kiddies on the way to school “OOH PUPPIESCANIPATTHEMCANICANIOMGTHEYBARKED *cue the screaming* and also the forest paths are lovely but best avoided in the early morning and early evening as that’s when the deer come out… and thus.. the hunters. Seriously.) and others to be avoided around lunch time as that’s when people come home during their lunch hour and feel it’s fine to just kick the dog out and “let them be” outside. No lead. No tether. No watchful eye. Nada. Odin does NOT like this idea and we’ve had a few frothing snarling snapping sessions while I drag him down the road, accompanied by barking (excited) Azzie and growling and barking (protective) Gina. Tim (from BH) was right: there was a great deal of “regression” for Odin in his behaviour, but he seems to be coming right now. It’s much easier to remove him from a situation than it was when we first got here – he was a monster. *Deep breath* I don’t even want to think about that first week.


Speaking of Odin! His DNA test results (thank you Wisdom Panel) came back today! And we were TOTALLY WRONG about the breeds he has in him! No Greyhound whatsoever (of any type) or Border Collie for that matter. Guess what he is? German Shepherd…. and… Irish Red and White Setter… AND… wait for it… Keeshond! Yes, you heard me… Keeshond! We were NOT expecting that one! Not sure where that falls in with his traits and behaviours and looks… but there you have it. He’s truly a mix and match, our gentle boy. I was on the right track with his training though – they are all tracking/hunting/search dogs, and of course GSH love agility too, so we’ve got him right there. Now we just need to find a local area to practice/socialise him again. And the girls.

Adventure Dog Odin - German Shepherd Dog, Red and White Setter, Keeshond
German Shepherd, Red and White Setter, Keeshond. Who knew?

I finally bit the bullet and bought the training collars… tone and vibrate only. We’re going to test it on ourselves first anyway, and then decide HOW and WHEN we will use them. Azzie will get one as well (I bought the 2 pack) to help curb her various naughty habits. We’ve tried everything else and she just ignores it and does what she wants, so I think this will work. I’ve been consistent. I’ve been patient – but over 2 years and she’s still doing her own thing, despite my best efforts? Yeah. Time for a new angle, right? I would never hurt my dogs – let me just state that right up front – but for distance training (for Odin) and catching Azzie in the exact moment of her bad habit (various ones!) will be much easier with this option. I’m still reading every bit of literature I can find on training using the collars, and we will only begin when we feel totally sure of what we are doing. My dogs are too precious to me to mess it up by just wading in and learning as we “go along” kind of thing. Nuh uh.

Precious dogs being Bernese, we keep a watchful eye out for lumps and bumps… and we found two (and now THREE) on Azzie, of various sizes. So on Friday morning last week she went in for surgery to have them removed. She didn’t go under – she was heavily sedated though, because she’s wriggly – but there was a heavy local anesthetic in the affected areas. She came through fine, none the worse for wear. The incision on her back is quite large, and for some reason the vet missed a stitch.. so there’s a little gap between two of them (6 stitches altogether) which we are keeping a close eye on for infection. She’s handling it well – I trimmed the excess hair around the edges of the shaved part, as it was tickling her and making her lick/scratch the area – and has been 80% good about not messing with the surgery areas. The one on her front leg is healing very quickly (only 1 stitch) and she has totally stopped licking that one now. She goes back to have the stitches removed in just under 2 weeks time. We MIGHT have to go in earlier if it gets infected, despite our best efforts. Here’s hoping they hold out until then.

Adventure Dog Azzie - Bernese Mountain Dog
Azzie ponders things in the back of the minivan

My other precious Bernese, Gina, got a faint positive for Lyme disease before we left Germany, so the vet there suggested (strongly) that we get her tested again when we settle in here. So we did. Took over a week for the results (they do off site testing, unlike Germany) and it came back with another faint positive – so she either HAD Lyme disease (which is totally likely with the HORRIBLE ticks we had in Baumholder, who were seemingly impervious to anti-tick stuff!) at one point recently, or currently has it. Either way, she is being treated now and hopefully no damage has been done to her (already delicate) kidneys. Also hoping it will clear up the random lameness issue she has. It should, if it’s Lyme related.

Adventure Dog Gina - Bernese Mountain Dog
My sweet girl

In our urgent quest for a reliable and suitable second hand car (before our rental had to be returned) we have traveled far and wide around Georgia. One of our trips was far out into the country to view a comfy and well loved and used 4Runner. We headed down toward a place called Lincolnton and a road called Lincoln. This was the real South, people. The one you see in the movies and on TV shows about farmers and small towns. White fences, huge acres of grass, big drooping Willow trees, horses, cows, beloved old trucks kept in mint condition, combine harvesters, rolls of wheat resting in cropped down pastures, men and women sitting with their dogs on the porch and enjoying the afternoon light and the sweet smells from the Sweetpea flowers. Idyllic. Breathtaking. Peaceful. The light was absolutely gorgeous and I wished I had brought Bertha along. Little Ziggy (my purple point and shoot) did just fine though and I got some lovely shots as we drove through back roads and tree lined avenues that went on for miles and miles in one direction. It was a serene trip, there and back, and we had comfortable silences and many interesting and amusing conversations. We didn’t bring the dogs on this one, as there wasn’t much space in the back of the small rental car (we swapped it out a few days before – got rid of the minivan, as we didn’t need it anymore) for them to relax on a long trip like that. We checked out the 4runner, but it was a little TOO worn for our liking (knobs and things missing, bits falling off, and an unsettling smell that we couldn’t quite narrow down) and we thanked the VERY nice people and headed back home. Dogs were thrilled to see us of course. A few days later we went to check out an SUV (also an older one) and that was even more “well worn” – but luckily the man who was sorting the sale out for his elderly neighbour said “well I have this car here that we’ve done up and we’re selling” and we walked across the road to have a look at an older Honda Accord Station Wagon. We liked her, the moment we saw her… but we still had others to check out, so we drove her a bit, had a think and said we would get back to him. We then checked out a whole bunch of other cars and it all came down to a choice between a younger Honda Civic and this older station wagon. It was a difficult choice, but in the end a vast array of Pros in favour of the station wagon won out and we purchased her two days later. The Georgia DMV – Augusta one, anyway – is rather nice :) We had no issues and soon we had plates, and license, and registration and then we had to think of a name. It took a few days, but we settled on Daisy. As in… driving Miss Daisy. She’s adorable and the dogs are LOVING all the space in the back! We’ve been giving her lots of TLC (new tyres, new sparks, etc etc) and she’s giving us back a smooth easy ride. Match made. Happy us.

Adventure car - Miss Daisy Adventure car - Miss Daisy

Before we even left Germany we were on the look out for a washer and dryer (they don’t come with the house furnishings, unfortunately) and we found a set for a good price. We asked the reason for the good price and we were told that the dryer “just needed a starter button” and it was good to go. Lies. LIES! We’ve changed the starter button, changed the thermal fuse, tested all the wiring with a (newly purchased) volt meter and WE STILL CANNOT GET THE DAMN DRYER TO WORK! So it’s been “hang it outside on sunny days” old school laundry for us. The Sears serviceman was meant to come and check it out this morning, but they called and changed the date so we’re without a dryer for ANOTHER week. Meh. Hopefully it stays sunny for the next few days so we can get some laundry dry.

At least the washer works well.

My DIY husband handyman has fixed a few things in the house on his own, and when our shelves arrived with our HHG, he also (with a tiny bit of help.. seriously, hardly any help from me – I just held things and handed them to him) put them up and anchored them like a pro. Very proud of his handiwork!

A long time ago I had a chat with a friend about ways to make money while being a stay at home wife and fur mother, herbalist, photographer and seamstress but also contribute to my awesome family in more ways (especially financial) I have found many things and done many things. Where we were living before (Germany) made it quite difficult to get green things going and maintain them (and we had no garden and anything I grew in pots had to remain behind when we left… which we did, just over 2 weeks ago. It was hard saying goodbye to Persephone, Bob, George, Terence & Phillip, and the little Bamboos, but we found them a good home with a lovely German lady who will take good care of them all) and my other hobbies and potential income avenues (vintage inspired clothing and photography) were not allowed on the military post. Long story. But NOW… now we are back in the Land of the Free, and I can once again pick up the reins of these various projects and I’m very excited. I’ve also added two more ways to add to the family income. One is a virtual assistant site that I am a proud member of (Fancy Hands, if anyone is interested) and the other… wow… the other is even more exciting. I’ve been accepted as a Merchandiser for the rather cool, clever and fashion forward company chloe + isabel.

Adventures in Jewelry - Chloe and Isabel

Now those who have known me since I was younger might be a little surprised at this (for a few reasons) and why I am so keen and excited about this opportunity. They perhaps thought I was too much of a tomboy to be “fashionable”, but I was always interested in fashion (even tried my hand at fashion design, much to my mother’s horror) but could never afford anything that I wanted and never had the tools to make anything properly. Or the patience, I will admit. I’ve always had very expensive taste (something I share with my mother and now my husband as well) and my idea of style was classic and elegant. (I’m an Isabel, according to the Friendship Philosophy of Chloe and Isabel) A complete opposite to what I wore (wear still…) when I was not in school uniform. Audrey Hepburn type of style: effortless, simple, classy and never going out of fashion. I secretly (and not so secretly) collected Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and any other fashion magazine I could get my hands on. Didn’t matter if it was 10 years old or 10 minutes. I’m not sure what happened after that (don’t remember – thanks head injury) that made me stop dreaming, but there were many years of quiet introspection where I “made do” with what I had and never really looked beyond my comfortable, useful and simple daily clothes. Work or weekend, I wore the same kind of thing. To be fair, I rode horses, walked dogs and stood around at events taking photos for 8 or 9 hours at a time, so comfortable was pretty key in what I wore.

The last few years, after marrying my gorgeous and awesome husband, I’ve started trying to develop my “style” – in between walking dogs of course. I’ve looked at starting a capsule wardrobe (after I learned that you don’t include “exercise” clothing or pajamas in the count! WOO!) and was looking at Stitch Fix as an option as well, but have since had a look at my wardrobe contents and I think I can make something out of what I already own, PLUS I will have all these GORGEOUS accessories from chloe and isabel!

jewelry adventures and why I love my branch necklace

Now to the point of this: moving to the States, settling into our little home and not having to move for a few years has made me realise that NOW is the time to start this: fresh clean slate, new me, new style, new attitude. I think that Chloe + Isabel is that kick in the bottom I need. I’m very excited about this!

When our household goods arrived two days ago (and with it, my clothes and shoes) I have been brutally honest and begun the process of paring it down to a few classic and timeless items that I can mix and match. The rest will go to charity/thrift shop. My mum is also going to send me what’s left of my stuff back home. It’s not a lot, but there are clothes there as well (I had to fit my life into two suitcases when I left home and moved to Germany to join my husband) and some shoes too (boots mostly, and riding things) and lots of books and music! I’m being positive about this all. I’m taking it all as a major opportunity to be the ME I’ve always wanted to be. I’m lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive husband as well. He makes all the difference. He said, “You have to spend money to make money, Andrea, so just do it.” I don’t want to let him down so I will be dedicated and try my UTMOST to make a success of this. I already have ideas, I have to admit, for things to do to get my name out there and start selling these beautiful pieces. Just have to get it all together. We’re still unpacking boxes from HHG, but we’re getting there and our house is beginning to look like a home already :)

I think that’s a good place to end Part Bee of the Adventure stories.

I’ll update more as it happens, of course.

Until then, thanks for reading!


Adventures in Americaland: Part One

The beginning of our Adventures in Americaland aka the USA

The Big Day finally arrived and dark and early on a Sunday morning, we gathered our dogs, our bags and our passports and we got into the taxi and we headed off to Frankfurt airport. Dogs were surprisingly well behaved, despite being tired and anxious. They slept most of the way, as best they could, and there was no silliness from Azzie. She wanted to say hi to the driver, but he was a little wary of her – she’s a big girl. Other than that, no incidents. It was just on 2 hours to the airport. We arrived safe and sound, the sun just starting to think about coming up.

We grabbed some baggage carts and with the help of our very cool taxi driver, got the dogs to where we needed to be. Dogs were excited to be in the airport, with all the people, but generally behaved very nicely. Azzie barked at some other dogs, and at a very scared baggage handler, but other than that – all good. She was all over the place, of course – wanting to say hello to everyone and sniff everything. They were very thirsty too, but we couldn’t give them water as there was no way for them to go to the loo. They were also very hungry, as they’d only eaten the night before, quite early – also because they wouldn’t have a chance to go to the loo before the flight. We did take them for a 30 minute walk before the taxi arrived, in the wee hours – and they all went to the loo. We had to brace ourselves when the time came and we headed away from the dogs in their sky kennels – they were loaded up and there was nothing more we could do, as we had to go check in ourselves (it took an hour to sort everything out for the dogs and we still had to sort ourselves out!) and we were running very close to boarding time.

We were drenched in sweat from all the walking around, as we wore a few layers – it was pretty cold in the early morning when we left Baumholder – so we found a place to freshen up quickly, and then headed through security and customs and got to our gate to board just a few minutes before they called first passengers. We got unfortunate seats (the two middle seats in the middle section) but generally alright fellow passengers on our left and right. Food was good. Flights was VERY smooth (barely any turbulence, thankfully – I worried about the dogs in that) and we got a good tailwind and the flight was shortened by at least 45 minutes, which was great!  Tried to sleep, as I was extremely tired – I never sleep the night before a journey like this – and I think managed about an hour straight, and then about 10 minutes on and off for the next few hours. Watched some movies, some tv shows, listened to some soothing music. Then we landed and we DASHED out as fast as we could to get to our precious fur children.

The dogs did pretty well in their kennels. Only Odin had an accident (but I don’t think it was fear induced, as it was “normal” poop, and he had managed to stay out of it for the flight. It was just a tiny bit) in his kennel, while Gina and Azzie managed to totally fold and bend up their kennel pads – Azzie’s was completely on its side while Gina had managed to fold hers in half and push it up against the door. They were SUPER excited to see us – much whining and yelping from Azzie, and Odin managed a tail wag for us – and after a LONG LONG wait in the “agriculture” line (for live animals etc) we MADE it and headed outside ASAP so the dogs could drink some water and have a piddle and a poop. They were VERY polite and waited so patiently for us. I was very proud of them all. Once they settled outside (which was, thankfully, quite pleasant in the low 20’s Celsius) with me and our extremely helpful airport concierge (I don’t even know what else to call him – he was awesome) Alex, next to the doggy “relief” patch and they had some water and lots of treats (I couldn’t get to their bowls at that point) we waited for husband to go get the rental car. It took a while, as we’d booked it for 4pm and we were out early due to the faster flight time. Eventually, he managed to find his way back to where we were waiting (Atlanta airport is quite confusing!) and we piled the dogs in (after I cleaned up Odin’s paws and bottom after his kennel accident) and loaded up their kennels and our bags, thanked Alex (tipped him well, don’t you worry) and we were off! We got OUTTA there as fast as we could. We found a secluded parking lot nearby and I fed the dogs and we stretched our legs and chilled for a little bit while husband reorganised the bags and the kennels in the back of our minivan. Then we went to find ourselves some food and husband’s first stop was Arby’s! Food was good – of course we were SO hungry by that stage that anything would have worked – and we devoured our sandwiches and gobbled down our water.

We then set up the GPS (my clever husband had already downloaded the maps before we left Germany) and we were off on the 2.5 hour journey to Augusta. Dogs settled in the back – lots of room, even with the kennels and bags) and were all sleeping heavily after just a few minutes of smooth travel.

Husband and I were quite refreshed though, thanks to the good flight (despite being cramped in the middle seats) so we were fine to drive. It was starting to get dark, so the few photos I got were a little blurry after a while, and I gave up. It was full dark by the time we got into Augusta and we tried to find the location of the motel/hotel that I had found online that took big dogs as well… but it wasn’t where it was meant to be…

We drove around, tried a Holiday Inn – they said no, but the kind receptionist gave us the address of the DoubleTree hotel and said that he was 99% sure they took big dogs and more than two of them. We found the DoubleTree with no issues, and yes… yes they took us in. By this time we were ALL exhausted and that bed, and that hotel, shall forever remain in our hearts as the Best Place Ever in Augusta. Three dogs? No problem. Three BIG dogs? No problem. We got a suite on the ground floor, near the entrance/exit doors and we lugged just one bag each up, and the dog food and bowls etc.

I fed the dogs again, just a little bit to prevent tummy issues, and I took them out one final time before bed, for their bathroom break. All good. Then we slept. And slept. And slept some more. Odin and Gina were so tired they couldn’t even make it on to the bed, but fell asleep on the floor and stayed there for the first part of the night. I moved a footstool over to the bedside so they could jump up on the high bed (which was SO COMFORTABLE!!!) and by the time the early morning came (and we were still on German time, remember) all three were on the bed, snoring their heads off, legs in the air. We were up very early, so I took them out, then we all had some breakfast. Husband I took it in turns, to keep the dogs company, to go to the breakfast buffet. It was delicious. I brought the dogs some well cooked bacon, as a treat for being so awesome.

We checked out around 0930 and headed off to the military post to get the lay of the land kind of thing, and then we met the realtor (a British lady from London, weirdly enough) at the little house that was going to be ours.

We are still waiting for our HHG (household goods) so our home is a little “minimal” but we’ve made do and found some awesome bargains at the thrift shop (Microwave AND an awesome set of pots and pans) and we have a very nice blow up bed that husband bought on our first day. Dogs are settling in nicely and so are we.

I think I will stop there for now.

Next part will talk about our trip down to the Real South, the tip of a hurricane, and our awesome car that we bought yesterday (9th) and other little things.


Closer and closer – An Update

I thought it was time for another little update, as The Big Move gets closer day by day.


Just a few last items to update on our To Do list – need to find a buyer for Helga, asap, as we have to clear the vehicle registration department and can’t do that with a car on our name which we are not shipping back. We had a long list of buyers, and then slowly they fell through: they either got impatient and bought a car elsewhere, or they spoke to spouses “back home” who decided that they didn’t want the car, even though said spouses would never drive her… *shrug*, or they decided that she had too many kilometers on her, or they decided our price was too high all of a sudden. We’re left with 3 possibles: One of them is a young private who can’t really afford the car, but desperately wants it and needs to sell his little skadonk first and is trying hard to. We’re running out of time though, so we can’t give him forever… however, after all the other buyers fell through we went back to him and my husband has tried to make a deal with him and might even lower the price a bit if the other two possibles don’t respond soon.

After that, it’s health certificates for the dogs – and Odin’s tummy has been bad the last 24 hours but seems to be settling so I’m hoping he will be fine by the time our appointment rolls around. Otherwise they might not give him a clean bill of health to fly! On a side note from this: I tried a natural remedy that contained Slippery Elm to help alleviate his symptoms and it seems to have worked even better than the Sucralfate tablets that the vet gave us the last time they all had issues. I’m impressed… but of course Odin has not gone to the loo (#2 I mean – he’s piddled on everything today!) yet today, despite 3 long walks ranging from over 30 minutes to to an hour… I have been feeding him only a little bit of chicken and rice though, so I think it takes longer for that to become enough for him to need to go to the loo. Hoping that’s the case and it’s not a blockage that caused the issue in the first place. He tends to eat things and chew on things, and pick things up off the ground – old habits of a stray street dog die hard, eh? Another side note, which should probably be an entire post on its own, is my discovery of the Hedgewitch. It fits all my boxes and gets all the ticks and gold stars on my lists. Perhaps, when I am feeling more open and confident about it and where I stand, and we are more settled in our new home, I will post an entire explanation and back story about why I ended up searching/seeking/discovering the Hedgewitch. Mostly it’s just a very keen interest in herbs, plants and natural healing… and Nature herself as well. There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, but as I said – that’s a story for another time and I’ll update you when the time is right.

Other than Odin’s tummy troubles today and yesterday, the dogs are doing very well. Azzie actually likes her den and sleeps in it quite often (they are set up in the dining room, as there is nothing there anymore and we needed to keep the dogs in training with the dens, before the Big Move) without any asking/prompting from me or husband. Gina also goes into hers every now and then, without being asked, as she likes it but she likes getting a treat for going in there! Odin, being the experienced den traveler that he is… does NOT go into it without asking. He goes in, when asked, but does not enjoy it quite like the girls. He has other associations with being in a kennel so it’s not surprising, really. We train him too, but not as much as the girls. He will be fine when he’s in, it’s just the going in and out that we will have to watch him: he’s a darter.

What else can I update you all on? Our HHG have gone, 2 weeks ago now, and the rest of our shipped stuff (not going with us on the plane) goes next week… A few days after that we move into the hotel.. and just 3 days after that… WE FLY!

It’s exciting, but also terrifying and stressful. I just want it all to go well: for us and for the dogs. Send vibes, friends. I wish we could just teleport instantly. This whole waiting thing is crappola.

Took some photos on our walk in the old forest today – going to miss that.
Oh! Yes! Yesterday my awesome husband helped me flush and clean 10 years worth (maybe more – I can’t remember exactly when I last had it done, but it was a LONG TIME ago) of ear gunk and wax out of my ears, as the last few days I have gone almost completely deaf with the build up. As he cleaned and flushed and picked disgustingly large pieces of wax out of my ear canals, I could finally hear. 100%. I nearly cried with the intensity and relief of it. After that it was a case of getting my brain to readjust my “levels” after so many years of being “clogged” and having about 40% hearing. The clarity is unbelievable. Everything is SO LOUD! I can hear people speaking inside their buildings, with windows closed. I can hear EVERYTHING! In the forest this morning I was almost overwhelmed with all the beautiful sounds from the birds and deer and beetles and bugs and who knows what else. It was incredible! I felt ALIVE again! I no longer felt like I was in a deep well – isolated and foggy and dark. I can’t thank my darling husband enough for going through it with me. It was painful at times, and quite uncomfortable most of the time, but TOTALLY WORTH IT!