another hodgepodge

I’ve been doing all these “things” to try to (almost) force myself to blog more… I added myself to a website “circle” all about sewing, I added an author link on G+ and I linked my blog to some other web groups as well…

I’m also still trying to keep the “blogging tribe” experiment going… I did warn them that I am a sporadic blogger, but I really want to be a more consistent one. Not necessarily daily/scheduled but at least more than once a month!

Thing is, I don’t really have that much to blog about – my daily life is routine: get up, take dogs down, come back, make breakfast for dogs, me, husband, get dressed to go, walk dogs, come back, clean house, feed dogs, do laundry, walk dogs again, do more household Domestic Goddess stuff, feed dogs again, chill for a bit, walk dogs, make dinner, chill, take dogs down before bed, then off to bed… and the next day I do it all again.

Right now, husband is away for a few weeks, so I have even less to do, but I am trying to keep up the schedule, for the dogs and to stop myself from vegging out.

So I have set myself a few goals for these 3 weeks of “alone time” and I will do my best to both blog about it and also complete said goals. Or just blog about not completing them. Failure is always an option. I’m a starter, not a finisher.

This hodgepodge post is to “catch you up” to where I am right now: sitting at my awesome (and quite neat at this time) desk, with dogs lolling around in their spots, licking ice cream from their sweet white furry lips. All the fans are going, as it’s heating up already. Going to be pretty warm today (29C) despite the fact that it’s already August and it should be cooling down rapidly. *shrug* Germany has not exactly been “normal” as far as the weather goes, this year. We had snow and negative temperatures, in May, so I’m not really counting on this “summer” to end too soon. The whole week is going to be a scorcher. So husband left one of our air conditioners (the big one) up in the apartment for me, and of course there’s the kiddie pool downstairs and the bath upstairs, to keep the pooches cool. I really need to invest in those cooling mats. I think the dogs would like them. Or a cooling vest. They did well this morning on our walk, though – we stuck to the shade, took lots of little breathers under trees, and I gave them lots of water. Azzie is on the bed – it’s her new favourite place. I worry when it gets quiet though – she really is like a toddler… you’d rather there was noise… or you know they are up to something!  I’m going to go check on her in a second, when I am done with this post.

The Dog Food Adventure is going well. I’m going to bake some eggshells today, and grind them up – a major source of calcium and other nutrients – I’ve gathered quite a large amount. The girls LOVE their “meats” in their meals now. Gina loves the ground beef (93% lean) and Azzie loves her chicken. Azzie eats anything I put in her bowl, but I have to be sneaky with Gina. She has, however, been eating her veggies (carrots and green beans and a small amount of potato) in the stews I’ve made for them. I’ve also ordered something called “Longevity” by Springtime Inc. It’s a powder that you put on their food, once a day, which apparently is so good for them that there are now 19 year old herding dogs running around like 4 year old pooches, amongst other success stories. The Bernese Mountain Dog group that I am on swears by it – especially for big dogs like ours, so I am looking forward to that arriving. It helps to heal previous damage as well – so I am hoping it will help Gina’s back left leg to heal properly. I want to start running with both of them.

Bahrbach Pfad - 3

As for my running – I ran a proper race! Only 5km, but it was my first actual race (for myself, not for my school) in over 20 years. I was pretty proud of myself. I ran 95% of the way – only walked (briskly!) up the very long, steep hills, and only for a minute each time. I finished in a time of 33 or 34 minutes (not too sure, as I was so excited about actually doing it that I forgot to start my stopwatch until I was at the end of the first street!) which was a pace of around 6:25 or 6:35… either way, I was pleased as punch for actually DOING IT!  My husband was proud of me too – but he laughed at my time :) That’s ok. My goal was to just FINISH it and finish strong. I sprinted to beat another runner, at the end. Unfortunately my husband didn’t see my epic finish, as he was standing off to the side with the dogs, because they were worried about me “running off” without them. Silly girls. Next time, I will take them with me! So we all need to get fit again. Apparently you can win a prize too, if you are the first to cross the line with your dog!

Rule #1 Cardio - 1 (1)

My sewing has had a pause again – I did complete 95% of a black micro suede wiggle skirt, but I made a miscalculation on the amount of fabric I needed, so it was shorter than planned, and I have to still do the kick split at the back. I will post photos when that’s done. One of my goals in this “alone time” session is to make something new. So I’m looking at my patterns, and my fabric and trying to decide what. I might make a nice comfortable top, or maybe some yoga pants.

I haven’t done yoga in weeks and weeks. Makes me sad. It’s almost impossible to get down on the floor to do anything, without the dogs getting all excited and literally climbing all over me. Gina crawls under my Downward Dog, and Azzie thinks my Bridge pose is so she can sit on my chest. So it’s been complicated. I really do want to get back into it – and that’s another goal for these 3 weeks.

They are doing construction outside our buildings right now and since yesterday we’ve had to move our cars to parking places across the road and quite far down. Annoying, but hopefully it won’t be for long. Thankfully the buildings where I am parked are not full, so there are free spaces still. I left a note on my car windshield so that anyone whose bay I am in can come find me if they need me to move one of the cars. I’m polite like that. Can’t say the same for the rest of the people around here. There is a serious lack of respect for others, sometimes. And, as you know, don’t even get me started on the dogs stuck inside all day. *deep breath* *counts to ten*

So that’s a catch up, for now.

Our Dog Food Adventure

I am part of an excellent and highly informative group who all own Bernese Mountain Dogs. 95% of these people (breeders and just regular owners – not that you could call Berners “regular” dogs :) but that’s another story for another time) feed the BARF (or Raw diet) or what we call “human food” diets.
I’ve been wanting to try the Raw diet for my girls for a while, but it’s complicated and I’ve never really had the time to sit down and work it all out. Plus, being overseas, it would get very expensive, and we also don’t really have space in our freezer/fridge for all the extra meats etc.
However, I DO know that my Gina especially, LOVES eating _real_ food as opposed to dry dog food. We have them both on an excellent organic brand (Castor&Pollux Organix) which they have done well on, but Gina sometimes just leaves her food and doesn’t bother eating it. It bores her, I suppose. So I started trying to entice her back to her bowl by adding some chicken (cooked breasts) and rice (brown they don’t digest so well, but white seems fine) and she tucked in to her food with great enthusiasm… for a while… I still added about half the amount of dry food that I would normally feed, and made up the rest of the meal with chicken and rice. She loves it, Azzie devours it (I have to hand feed her sometimes when she’s really hungry, as she just sucks it all up like a vacuum cleaner) and they both seemed happy like that.
Then a while back we had a braai (bbq/cookout – whatever your culture wants to call it) and I bought them each a large juicy steak. My husband cooked them on the fire (no salt no added anything) and made sure they were rare.
I chopped up the steak into small cubes and fed them each about 5 or 7 pieces in their food.
Gina’s reaction was almost COMICAL in her zeal. She licked her bowl CLEAN. It was wonderful!
So for the next few days they had little bits of steak in their bowls and they were super happy… I thought this was a good time to start thinking about either a Raw diet, or what I’ve read about – the whole food diet.

wholefoods
Carefully balanced meals (“stews” and other things) for your dogs weight and calorie needs, made from “human food”
I downloaded a book on my Kindle – with much recommendation from people in my BMD group – called “Feed Your Best Friend Better” by Rick Woodford.
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So today: our adventure begins…
With their “lunch” (half a bowl of rice and chicken, usually) I added some scrambled eggs (no salt or pepper or anything else) – just a small amount, to see how their stomachs react, and also to test out their eating reaction :)
Gina, of course, sniffed her bowl and each piece of egg before eating it, but she also finished her bowl and licked it clean (with only chicken and rice, no steak!) and of course Azzie went back to double check there was nothing left over…
Now they are both snoozing in their spots – happy pups.

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A good start!

I love my dogs and I want to be sure they are getting a balanced diet filled with all the nutrients and good stuff they need – and I want them to be HAPPY about food time as well. We share everything else with our dogs, why not our (good!) food?
I will be doing my best to keep this adventure updated… so if you are at all interested in feeding your dog Raw/wholefood instead of commercial kibble… keep an eye on this story!

Leaving behind passwords

These days, with the all powerful social media dug into everyone’s life like a burrowed tick – gorging on information: the blood of the internet – there are some “moments” and some awkward issues that you don’t really think about until they appear in your life.

One of these: the death of someone in your family who also happened to be active on social media and online in general raises its multifaceted head quite a bit in my life.
My father passed away over 2 years ago now, and he was a big geek: very active online with multiple projects going on and lots of group involvement. He had a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account and probably many others, but these are the two that I interacted with him on. Knowing my father as I did, I know for a fact that he was highly secretive. There was no way he would let anyone know his passwords – especially to social media.

So now he’s gone: his Facebook account is still “active” and so is his LinkedIn account. His birthday still appears as a Facebook reminder, he still gets “endorsed” on LinkedIn and invited to various groups (I’ve seen him included in various mass invites that I seem to be included in as well) and told to Like pages. People still leave him messages on his wall and leave comments on his photos or anything else he had posted before he died.
My question is: who do you trust with your keys? Who do you tell where all the bodies are buried? You do not know when you will go. You simply do NOT. It could happen any time. We are never prepared for it, really. So at what point do you tell your best friend/partner/spouse/brother/lawyer that in the case of your death, there’s this brown envelope in your desk that has all your passwords. “Please clear my browser history, bro.”

Also – if you ARE entrusted with someone’s passwords, when is the time right to delete their accounts? When do you mark them as “gone” or put an end date on their timeline?
I understand a last will and testament for your possessions, money, etc – but what about your online life? Your gaming avatars? Steam? Your Xbox live account? Your email account?
What about those?
When do you let go? When, and how, do you let their online friends know that you are deleting the character? Or do you just leave it alone? What needs to go, what can stay as a reminder in the ether of the person lost?

Mohawks, robots, suits, hairy dogs and country roads.

Thought I’d do an update post as I’ve done lots in the last few weeks.

Firstly – I shaved myself a Mohawk  Why? Because I can. It’s hair, it grows back – and mine grows like a weed :) Plus I thought it would look cool with the blond ends and dark roots…

Here’s the process: Did it all myself with no mirror, so it was a little hectic. At one point I asked my husband for help (as he is the one who kept suggesting the hair cut!) but when he started clipping and then stopped and said “I have no idea what I just did…” I said thanks, but I’ll take it from here :)

 

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Secondly: I completed TWO sewing projects successfully!

I finished the entire 1940′s suit (jacket, pants, skirt and blouse) and sent it off to the client – she LOVES it and is very happy with it! I was so relieved as it was my first major project for someone!

 

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I also finished the skirt for another client – 1950′s style soft pleated skirt. Buttery soft linen, which she chose, from a pattern that she also sent me.

It took me only 3 days – and that’s because of various interruptions. I could probably complete one of those in 2 days if I worked flat out.

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I was pretty proud of myself – and pleased with my work.  I would have worn any of the pieces, so I think that’s a sign that they are well made, as I am very critical of my own stuff.

Waiting on word from the lady who ordered the skirt… but she has been very busy recently, so I am sure she will let me know when it arrives!

 

Thirdly, we got a Roomba! We’ve waited a long time and did lots of research on which one to get, and finally Ronald arrived last week.

He has been put to work and is diligently dealing with dog hair and bird seed – he gets cleaned every time he is used and, as they state in their guidelines, kept on power when not in use.

He’s awesome :)

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Fourthly – Spring/Summer has finally arrived in Germany (in our area, anyway – floods everywhere else :/)

It went from 3C/12C to 23C/35C in a matter of days. The dogs are shedding like mad to cope, so we are grooming almost daily and the fur just keeps coming…

Also trying to find a combination of tick collar/tick spray/drops to counter the rather nasty ticks they have here in our area. We have lots of forest and natural undergrowth, plus lots of deer and other wild animals… so the ticks are rampant, no matter where you go.

Even sticking to the roads and just letting the dogs sniff the edges, I still find ticks on them – despite having tick collars and (natural) spot drops on them. So now I am going to try the tick collar combined with a tick spray that will hopefully sit in their fur and stop the ticks from staying on.

We tried a tick/flea shampoo as well – didn’t work. I don’t WANT to use the nasty chemical ones, but clearly that’s all that works on these mean little suckers!

We did discover two gorgeous new and interesting walks in our attempts to avoid the long grass etc – so that’s a bonus. We also sorted their kiddie pool out – although Gina managed to make a hole or two in the sides, so the water doesn’t really stay in for long!

Morning Walks - 3 Morning Walks - 2 Morning Walks - 1

I *heart* IKEA

One day, when I grow up, I will have a home that will be completely outfitted by IKEA.

I love EVERYTHING they sell. Everything. Down to the last stuffed toy and tissue paper holder. I would buy it all if I could afford it.

Today, husband and I ventured out (in MY car, Naartjie, I might add!) in the direction of Saarlouis and Saarbrücken to find the “nearest” IKEA. Back in Wiesbaden, our nearest IKEA was only 20 minutes away… from here, it took an hour or more, with various construction and cleanup areas slowing traffic down to 60km/h for long stretches of the autobahn. But when we got there, all was forgiven, as it is the happiest, cleanest, quietest, most wonderful smelling place in the world. I really <3 IKEA.

No matter where you go, it’s always the same: welcoming and well priced and well stocked.

We went in search of some odds and ends, including string lights and wine glasses (to replace the ones the movers broke) and came out with two AWESOME (and very reasonably priced) swivel desk chairs!

His: The Torkel. (p)Leather and an extra lever for adjustment of the back cushion.

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Hers: The Fingal. Mesh padding and a hint of leather (pleather, really…) with a simple height adjustment.

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I am tres happy with our purchases.

We have already assembled them (took about 5 minutes, for both) and we are using them right at this moment!

 

What took me so long?

Since I started walking Azzie, I have had issues with her pulling on the lead and dragging me off in various directions randomly, leaping around. On occasion she has nearly dislocated my shoulder, bowled me over and twisted my fingers until I thought they would snap… all the while dragging Gina around by the neck as well.

I tried various things: the whole stop-and-wait method, when that didn’t work (doesn’t work when you have two dogs to deal with and one is tentative already :/) I tried the gentle pull – I didn’t want to hurt her neck. That didn’t work at all as she is so big she barely notices my weight. I tried to remain calm and to not yank on her – it’s bad for them when they are young – but I could not get through to her. So I switched to her harness, but unfortunately this just made it worse, as she is built like a tank and all her strength (like most big dogs) is in her shoulders and front legs…

I was getting to the point where I didn’t want to walk her anymore – it was just too exhausting, frustrating and annoying. I was aggravated and fuming every time we walked. This upset Gina as well, as she picks up on my mood/body language very quickly. I also didn’t want to “ruin” Azzie as a young, exuberant pup! She’s a darling, just… large and doesn’t know her own strength. She doesn’t do things to make me mad, she does it because she is still learning and testing boundaries and her breed are very slow to mature (we have years of this to look forward to :))

I had a thought, two days ago. Apparently these “easy walk” harnesses work wonders. Not too clear on the exact mechanics of them, but I know that it removes all the force/pull from their neck and shoulders, as they are basically pulling on themselves to a certain extent. Since I didn’t have one of these harnesses handy, I thought let me try make my own…

I put her normal harness on, but attached the leash to the loop on the front, on her chest.

You want instant results, then try it yourself.

I cannot even begin to explain how my dog transformed. I do not know HOW it works – I didn’t pull on her and she didn’t pull on me, at all – but it works.

Every walk we’ve had since then has been an absolute pleasure!

I can’t believe it took me so long!!

Azzie is a happy puppy – still full of bounce and puppy silliness, but no longer being hissed at, or yanked on by me – and Gina is a happy dog – her tail remains up the whole walk now, instead of slowly drooping down at her back legs as she gets more and more upset by my bad mood – and I am a SUPER HAPPY OWNER!!

easy walk harness

Box Jungles and Other Moving Parts

A week or so ago my husband was made an offer by the army that he could, in theory, refuse… but he chose to think on it.

That evening, we discussed at length the pros and cons of moving – on the army’s dime – and what we could get out of it, in the end.

We said, let’s look at our options for apartments and locations and then we can decide.

We didn’t _have_ to move, but the reason we were asked if we wanted to was because of the units and individuals who would be moving in to the buildings we lived in at the time. It would get loud – lots of single officers and of course the “other people” as well. I won’t go into who they are – it’s not really necessary.

So we were given quite a few choices – one of them on Wetzel housing. When we first moved to Baumholder, we were given one choice in Wetzel as well, but it was a TINY place with no storage and the “balcony” was just a square enclosed on the roof. We said no thanks, and chose our 3rd floor apartment (7 flights of stairs – if one flight is one side… not sure how people count “flights”) with its ENORMOUS rooms and loads of built in storage. So this time around we were a little skeptical of Wetzel, but when we saw the place we were pleasantly surprised! It was airy, filled with light, had a proper balcony and as an added bonus was only on the second floor! That was only 3 flights of stairs for Gina to tackle.

We still went to look at at least 4 other apartments, all on Smith and located all around the post. While we liked the space they all offered, each one just had too many cons to move too high up on our list of options. They were also very “busy” buildings – almost all filled to the brim with people and lots of children. They were also almost ALL on the 3rd floor! So why give up our lovely big apartment for one that was the same and was loud and busy and one smelled of urine and mold and the other was not renovated so it was still the “old” style and not very attractive. The kitchens were smaller too. And outside the front, because it was such a heavily trafficked road, loads of doggy poop on the front yards. NOT nice. I pick up after my dogs, especially if they go on someone else’s grass – if I can do that for two huge beasts, then they can do it for theirs!

We decided on the Wetzel one – this was on the Thursday. They came to fetch our stuff on the Tuesday after that. The movers were awful. Nice guys (according to my husband) but terrible packers! They broke so much of our stuff – including some antique cups and glasses and porcelain :(

 

These are the “before” shots…

DSCN0503 DSCN0501 That's Gina's new spot No idea why, but this cupboard makes me happy. Lounge area, with balcony door This is all exhausting for Azzie 2 DSCN0518 study main bedroom - a little smaller.. DSCN0524 DSCN0528

 

These are the “during” shots…

 

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And these are “almost done” and “it looks like we live here now” shots… We just have a few more things to sort out (TV, Playstation, Xbox, computer, etc)

 

DSCN0548 Basil has a unique marking I am a lapdog with laser eyes The kitchen is now a kitchen :) DSCN0561 DSCN0560 The magnets are on - now it is home

Procrastination, my old friend.

It’s amazing how many things you can find to do, to avoid doing something that needs to be done.

I even do laundry, clean the kitchen, and plan out dinner or bake something.

What am I avoiding?

Crepe de Chine.

It’s a magnificent fabric – soft to the touch, smooth and silky. And that’s the problem. It’s slippery and slinky and it HATES needles.

Luckily I ordered extra, just in case – as I have had to re-cut the sleeves. Their shape was completely off when I had finished.

I’ve never had to sew a silk fabric before. This is all a learning curve of massive proportions. I’ve done loads of research on tips and tricks when dealing with silk and other slippery fabrics – another way to put off actually DOING the sewing of it!

I now feel more ready… but of course, we are MOVING tomorrow. Of course. The wonderful military life.

Will take me another couple of days to set myself up again. At least I have a couple of weeks to do this. I want to do it RIGHT, first time around.

 

I’m such a damn perfectionist that I am driving myself nuts here.

 

Easily distracted by shiny things