Tag Archives: dogs

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Being a stay-at-home person

Being a stay-at-home person for most normal people is 70% awesome and 30% meh.

For normal people the separation from their co-workers, and the lack of social interaction in general, causes them a great deal of misery and depression. For me, it’s not an issue. I am a solitary person. If it wasn’t for my husband, I could go months, even years, without speaking in person to another human being. Except maybe a thank you or please to people who need it. No conversation though.

For normal people, getting up in the morning at a reasonable hour is also something they find difficult – for me, it’s not, as I have so many reasons and motivations: firstly, my husband gets up early and I get up with him so that I can make him breakfast, and pack his lunch (yes, we’re old school – and we’re good with it) and I also feed my dogs (two of them have to eat early in order to prevent acid reflux which causes them to vomit if they have an empty stomach for too long) and take them outside for a quick piddle break. So I have no CHOICE really, but to get up at a reasonable hour to start my day. Usually, during the week, the dogs and I go back to bed after their breakfast and husband has left for work. It’s an hour or so of a nice nap to prepare for the day. Then we get up and go for our long morning walk, which lasts anything from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on where we go and what we do.

This leads me to another issue that normal people seem to have with working from home (or being a stay-at-home person) and that’s getting out of your pajamas. Once again, thanks to the dogs, I don’t have a choice in the matter. I have to get up, get dressed in clothes that I can be seen in out in public. and head out. I also do the grocery shopping, generally, and that involves being in public, so I definitely wear reasonably acceptable clothes for that too. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, so it’s not difficult. I also have a capsule wardrobe which mostly consists of clothes that I can wear both on a dog walk AND at the store!

Normal people also complain about their eating schedules – I don’t really have that issue. I eat breakfast after feeding the dogs “second breakfast” when we get back from our long walk. This is any time from 0930 to 1030, depending on how long the walk was. So I’m pretty full right up until around 1400 or so. I have something small (soup, a sandwich, cereal) for my “lunch” and then the next time I eat is when I make dinner for my husband and I. I think it works for me, as it stops me from “snacking” all day and eating junk food. If I am bored, I eat. So this meal schedule helps me keep the weight off.

I also have the Bird Bar, as we call it, to take care of. And my plants and herbs and flowers need watering as well.

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I have to admit that I have become a bit of a “social commenter” on Facebook, much to my disgust. I realised this today, after reading an article about this subject (working from home) and finding that only a few of the items listed actually concerned me. There are a couple of groups on Facebook that I check daily, a few times. I have made some lovely friends and learned some very helpful and interesting things there.

 

But other than that – I love being a stay-at-home person. When I am done with school, and I begin actual work, I don’t think my routine will change much. Perhaps a little less time on breaks and more time working (my work will be time sensitive) and completing things in a timely manner.

Sometimes being a little odd and being a loner is pretty useful. It helped me through long periods of separation with my husband too, while he was on the other side of the world. I’m a self-sustaining person. If I have no interaction with humans, I am just fine. I don’t get miserable or depressed. i don’t get anxious or desperate for another human voice. If I want to hear people speaking, I simply watch one of my favourite tv shows. I talk to my dogs, yes. I talk to them a lot. I don’t find that strange. Sometimes they help me, simply by listening, to sort through things or work out ideas. And anyone who says that dogs can’t have a conversation has not spent enough time with them. 🙂

My dogs are interacting with me in many ways, all the time. You just have to be aware of it, and be willing to let go of human conversation rules. My dogs have taught me a lot about silence.

Like the silence of the forests we walk in – that silence that’s made up of all the sounds of the forest at once. I love that. I gives me great serenity and fills my body with energy and inspiration and I can get on with my day. I find days that I don’t walk in the forest with my dogs, are days when I am physically tired, and I struggle to concentrate on my school work. It’s no coincidence, I feel.

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Time for another update

Time for another update

I thought it was well passed time for another update, as things have happened, and changed and other things are still ticking along.

Dogs are doing well – I’ve now taken all of them to St Francis Animal Hospital at one point or another in the last few weeks and I have to say I have been very happy with the service and the people there. Odin had an ongoing issue with his tummy, and I finally gave up on trying to fix it myself (it was a losing battle!) and the vet found he had multiple types of worms (not eradicated by their usual monthly dose of heartworm tablets, which does kill some types, but not these, clearly!) and she said that after moving from lovely cold Washington, she’d found from experience that Georgia is a “cesspool of bugs, parasites and protozoa of all kinds” – her words, not mine. She says that you have to be vigilant and most DEFINITELY keep up the heartworm medication, as they are rife here.

Gina got her Previcox, finally, and she is doing SUPER well on it. She’s full of bounce and energy again and comes with on 99% of the walks. She sometimes decides to stay home if it’s late evening, she’s already been to the loo on the previous walk and most importantly, daddy is home.

Azzie’s hotspot cleared up very nicely and I’m keeping an eye on her for any others that might appear.

With this hot, humid weather (Georgia is rolling out the spring/summer carpet already) there are ticks and fleas, but I’m finding the BravEcto is working very well. I’m the only one who gets bitten, now!

We also clipped down Azzie and Gina a few weeks ago – it was just starting to get SO hot that we couldn’t leave it any longer. All the groomers we tried were booked up, so we just got some good clippers and we did it ourselves. We made a few mess-ups (especially with Azzie, as she WRIGGLES like mad and it’s hard to keep her still enough to work on certain parts of her body!) but it came out looking pretty good and the girls were feeling much lighter and cooler. We didn’t shave them down, just clipped their very long fur down to about an inch or so. Probably more, as we didn’t want to go too close, just yet. We’ll try again in a few weeks, armed with this experience!

 

An update on my school work: I wrote my theory exam 2 weeks ago and I did VERY well. Much better than I thought I would! That was also with minimal “working off page” and I felt pretty proud of myself! Now the theory is done, I’m starting into actual practical work – actual transcription! It’s very exciting, to me. Sometimes the accents and the Americanising…. ZING… of the words gets on my nerves a bit, but it just makes it more of a challenge, and will help me when I step out into the REAL world to begin working.  I’d really like to work with psychology reports and things, but I don’t think you get much choice. I just want to get working, so I can start earning and contributing.

I also want to get my school work done so I can start responding to all the people who have asked for my help with their dogs! A few evening ago, while walking the chickens, a lady came up to me and starting talking to me about the dogs, her dogs, my dogs, etc, and asked what my website was for my training. I explained that i only do it for myself and I’ve done it that way – I don’t have any professional accreditation. I do have a partial degree in animal behaviour, but it’s more aimed toward horses! I didn’t mention that though. But she was determined, this lady, and said that she’s seen me walking my dogs and how wonderfully well behaved (I laughed, but let her carry on) they were and all that, and wanted my help with her dogs. My first question was how much exercise they got and she gave me the usual American answer “Well, they have a back yard to play in, so I don’t walk them.” So me, being the polite person I am, simply said “Well, that’s a start.” And she took my name said she would look me up on Facebook. I won’t hold my breath, but I will certainly go walking that way again when I am done with school, and see if she still wants my help. I will have time then, and her dogs don’t suffer in the heat like mine do, so I will have during the day to work on them, after walking mine.

Our Bird Bar, as we call it, is in full swing. We’re getting all sorts of new kinds of birds every day, including a hummingbird!! We bought a feeder for them, and I made some “nectar” syrup from scratch. No colourants etc. We had a couple of them coming by quite often for a few days, but then the HUGE ants found the feeder and I keep having to clean it out because they keep DROWNING in it! And I’m sure the hummingbirds don’t want to drink dead ants. Very annoying! I’ve tried moving the feeder further along the branch, but they keep finding it!

There’s also a family of SIX squirrels who come down to the yard from the tree in the front. I call one of them Blinky, as she initially had a very closed up, swollen eye and I thought she might lose it. But she’s bounced back and it’s just a little bit odd looking now and her little ear is a bit wonky, but that’s it. She’s still recognisable though.

I’ve seen loads more fauna around here (foxes, deer, and even a RABBIT the other morning!) and I am slowly starting to recognise local plants and trees. I still have to work out what kind of tree we have in the back yard here, and clarify what the huge one in the front is too. When I finish my school, I will start with the proper Herbology and crafting of salves and lotions and potions and tinctures. I just don’t have the time right now to focus too heavily on that side of my life. I am looking forward to it though!

My good friend from South Africa – an amazing photographer – has launched a project called Running With Dogs and even though I am far away, he wanted to include me in it! I was thrilled, and honoured, and SO flattered! I’m the only guest photographer, as far as I know. I sent him quite a few photos, after a lovely shoot with my husband and our pooches in the forest. He selected his favourites and he will include one of them in the calendar! I’m so excited!

What else? Oh, I made some peach crumble from scratch (Except for the peaches – they had no fresh ones at the commissary when we went, unfortunately) and bread too. I’ve made my chocolate cake a few times as well now. I’m trying to get out of my lazy rut and get my baking skills in gear, but my brain is usually so tired/burned out from school work that I can barely concentrate for more than 10 minutes sometimes! But I shall persevere! It’s getting easier now, with just the practicum modules, but still mind-intensive.

Our garden is doing WELL! We harvested our first batch of Arugula the other day! It’s so delicious! It just tastes so good, knowing we grew it ourselves! Now just waiting for the other herbs and plants to catch up and give me a harvest. Hopefully it will only be once I’m done with school! I’ve got Sage, Chives, Chamomile, Echinacea, and all sorts of wonderful things coming up! Our garlic is doing nicely too. The mint plants in the front are flourishing! We use them to make Mojitos 😀 I am trying to find things to make with the Chocolate Mint, as it is spreading all over the place! I might have to replant her into a pot by herself if she keeps this up!

 

Otherwise, we are doing well. Things are settling into a routine and we’re finding our way.

 

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One Year Ago Today

One year ago, today, our Odin arrived at Frankfurt airport. 

He was incredibly timid and nervous and wide eyed and rather overwhelmed by everything happening around him – but he was gentle, and quite trusting and when he heard his nickname that my husband used constantly before he sent him on his way he relaxed just a smidgen.  It was our ONLY connection at that point and we both used it to the max.

My friend Ciara was there, every step, to help me stay calm and to help take care of Odin while I filled out paperwork and paid for things. She also helped me navigate the German autobahn, in my little orange car.

When we got home, she stayed with us to help with the introductions to the girls – she got scraped knees and torn leggings and a very bruised hand thanks to their enthusiasm.

Just a momentary growl from Odin made Gina back off a little bit (she can be a bit dominant when she meets new dogs) and after that it was wags and sniffing and Azzie and Odin clicked instantly. We then went for a little “bonding” walk with the new pack, before we took them upstairs to the apartment. Ciara was invaluable in all of this. I could NOT (quite literally) have done this on my own. It would have been a nightmare, logistically. I was also emotionally exhausted and physically too – it was a long drive there, long drive back and nerve-wracking waiting for him to be brought out to us, and wondering how he would react to me.

 

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A year later, he has come SUCH a long way. Physically (his leg is all healed, he’s over 20 kg/ 40 lbs heavier) and emotionally (he’s much braver all round, and he’s SLOWLY getting over his overreaction tendency and learning to trust me and respect me) he’s come leaps and bounds since that day. I could not see our life without him, now. He’s bonded completely with Azzie, despite her craziness (he’s not generally keen on over excited dogs, and she is very much easily over excited) and has become quite close to Gina (she’s aloof anyway – never really bonded with Azzie like she did with Odin) and enjoys her calm company. He trusts me and does a little more every day. He still sees my husband as his rescuer, and that means he tends to treat him like an “equal” more than the one in charge – but that’s fine as long as he remembers that _I_ am in charge.

My little hunter... Odin

My little hunter… Odin

He’s taught me a lot – about myself and about my relationship with my dogs – my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve taken steps to learn to meditate and control my temper and keep my energy in check – it seems to be helping.

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All in all – he’s an awesome Little Dude and I am incredibly glad that he is in my life – our lives.

 

Happy rescueversary, Odin.

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A little update

A little update

I thought it was time for a little update, as I have been absent for a couple of weeks now.

I had plans, but my plans were as usual, rearranged and postponed and dropped from my lists due to circumstances not under my control.

This little update is about the NEW plans I’ve made because of all these changes that have occurred.

The dog walking idea was pushed way back to the basement of my list, because the housing facilitators here on post decided that our (very nice) temporary (no dig) fence from Lowe’s did not “fit the aesthetic” of the post and so instead of our nice and easy back yard fence, they said if we wanted a fence it had to be exactly like the others on post (chain link, horrible looking things) so that it fit in. We would also pay for it ourselves and it would have to be PUT IN PROFESSIONALLY and permanently… which means digging, which means a dig permit from the Georgia land council. Plus, when we move out of here, we have TO PAY TO GET IT REMOVED. How completely bizarre is that? We offered a no dig, temporary fence we could remove with barely any trace… and we could do it ourselves, and it was a very nice looking fence…. and they said NO because it wasn’t “like the other” fences and it had to be permanent. It really boggles the mind. *shrug*

So there went all my ideas of walking my three dogs, just three times a day and being able to walk other people’s dogs the rest of the day. There are a couple of people I might still reach out to… because I feel so awful for their poor dogs (one, chained to a tree in the back yard) that I cannot bring myself to just let the idea go completely. But for now… it’s back burner for that idea.

Husband and I were then trying to think of ways to create a “yard boundary” that wasn’t a fence, but that we could use as a deterrent for young Odin and keep Azzie and Gina from straying into the neighbours yard area.

We decided on an elevated stake and line for Odin, when we are outside with him and the girls. Even if we had managed to put in a fence, I would never leave my dogs unattended out there. We also went to Lowe’s garden section and bought some very big planters and some soil and some seeds (husband said “go nuts!” so I did!) and we will space those out around the boundary area of our “yard” and that should keep Azzie and Gina from straying too far. Of course we’ll have to roll them out the way when the landscape people come to mow etc, but that’s small price to pay for the creation of “our space” for us and the dogs. I love our dogs.

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I can’t wait for early spring so I can start planting! I have so many beautiful things to grow! Useful, beautiful, herbs and plants and flowers. I definitely inherited my mother’s green thumb and love of gardens.

 

The online boutique is slow and as my friend said, perhaps selling other people’s stuff is just not for me… so I took the initiative and gathered some things together and have begun making hand made jewelry items as well. I think th20160115_120232is is the right direction, as I have already sold 2, and have 4 orders pending on one item and 2 on another! I sell in various groups on FB, and I have created an etsy shop as well (link is in the sidebar, if you are interested)  – I have to say that actually CREATING things using my hands and imagination is far superior to selling someone else’s stuff… as pretty as it might be. I think I have found my excellent hobby which, depending on various elements, could turn into something more serious.

 

I have ALSO bitten the New Year bullet and signed up for a Medical Transcription and Editing course – via the military tuition and assistance people. I begin the course in February I think (could be late January) and it’s all online, including the exams, and when I have completed the course and passed the exams, I will be helped with finding employment – which is ALSO all online so I can work from home! I can earn a good supplemental income and will finally feel like I’m contributing to our family. This means a lot to me, as you might have noticed.

I am also still going to complete my security/IT courses and see where that leads me.

I also want to continue my Russian language learning, and perhaps branch out into Spanish as well (since we are in the USA and Spanish is the second most spoken language) while we live here.

So my life is full and there are BIG plans and while they are not all the plans I had last year, I think they will work for me now.

I’ve been meditating and doing mental gymnastics to get my head in order and I think it’s starting to work. The decisions I have been making, after consideration of course (I am a Libra and I am me, after all), have all felt Right. Like I made the right choice and I have no regrets about them. This is a good feeling for me. Long may it continue.

Enjoy this Peacock ore – yes, those are the natural colours! Isn’t it beautiful? It makes me happy, looking at it.

I have some of this of my own. It really is such a happy stone.

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I Have Plans For The New Year

I Have Plans For The New Year!

 

 

I have plans for the new year

I don’t have resolutions, but I definitely have plans, and maybe a few goals too. Resolutions are for people who don’t really want to expend too much effort, because they know that resolutions made for new year are not normally expected to be kept beyond February, March latest. Nobody will hold it against you if you give up 3 months in to the year! My plans are for the whole year, and even beyond if they work out the way I am hoping they will!

I have set my mind on the Octopus method of contributing to my awesome family: multiple streams of varying levels of income, which adds up to something viable and useful. Yes, it will be hard work – all of it will. Everything I am choosing to shove my finger into will require a great deal of time and effort, but in the end, it will be worth it. Pieces of the pie will add up to deliciousness.

A lot of my ventures will depend on some small steps and things to occur before I can continue, but they aren’t deal breakers, just conveniences.

In no particular order, my plans for the new year include:

  1. Writing for a science fiction anthology that I was invited to pitch a story for.
  2. Setting up my vintage inspired apparel shop again and getting to work on some clothes for clients!
  3. Keep on trucking with my jewelry line via my online boutique – even if it’s a small passive income, that’s absolutely fine with me!
  4. Keep adding my photography to stock image sites and Twenty20 (via Instagram) and work on my social media marketing (for my jewelry and vintage clothing as well)
  5. Begin a dog walking service on the post! Once we get our fencing up, I will be able to take my dogs for a set 3 walks a day, instead of 6 or 7, as they won’t require bathroom breaks to be included as we will have a little back yard for them for that! Once my dogs are set in a good routine (I would never neglect them for anything, especially money, or other dogs!) I will offer my services to the neighbourhood. I’ve already been approached by a few people, asking if all three were mine and if I walked for other people, so I know there’s a market for my skills. I will also brush up on my first aid skills, and get my CPR/BLS certificate for dogs (I have the course ready to roll, just need to make the time to complete it) so that I can set people’s minds at ease about that. I will have a few stipulations of course, for the dogs I will walk, but I really think it will work. Even if it’s just a few dogs a day, Monday to Friday. Will have to rethink things when summer rolls around, as the humidity is killer here in Georgia.
  6. Work on my website – on my own and also with my awesome friend Vanessa of VMCA.

There’s so much to do, I’m pretty excited! I will be busy, and tired, but I will finally make some sort of contribution to our family and feel good about myself and my worth. I feel good though, knowing that I definitely have plans for the new year!

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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.

 

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 Smore.com 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!