The Dog Days Have Only Just Begun.

29 Jul

Meet Josie:

Josie is a 13 week old Jack Russell/Maltese Puppy.  She has lived with us for 3 weeks tomorrow, and the days have really flown by.  It’s been crazy, it’s been stressful, it’s been amazing…there have been tears!  But over all it’s been wonderful, and now Ian and I truly can’t imagine life with out this little girl!

I wanted to write a blog about bringing home a puppy, and my experiences with this so far. First and foremost I want to say that if you are at all considering bringing home a puppy, think again.  And again.  And then think about it some more.  I planned, researched, and dreamed about getting a puppy literally for years, and I was not any where near prepared for this.

Bringing home a puppy is expensive.  Most puppies that you adopt from any where, be it the humane society or a breeder will cost at least $150.00.  This price does not include everything you need to have when you bring home a puppy and start integrating him/her into your family.  Puppies are babies.  Like human babies they need food, something to eat and drink out of (food bowls!), a bed, bedding, things to chew on (unless you don’t mind your new baby chewing on your shoes, your furniture, your electronics, your cat), toys to play with, a leash, a collar, doggy bags, bath stuff, and definitely some sort of carrying bag (it’s illegal in most places for a dog to ride in a car with out some sort of restraint).  It’s also really important that you have treats on hand if you want to start working on puppy behavior right away.

This is what we had when we started with Josie.  And it wasn’t enough!

We were fortunate that I work from home.  I can’t imagine bringing home a puppy and not having at least a week to spend at home while the dog adjusts.  The first week was important for us, Josie learned a lot about living with us and we learned about living with Josie.  That week she learned to sit, she started potty training, and she learned to sleep in her crate.  I learned that she sleeps 15 hours a day, that she doesn’t like Purina Puppy Chow, and that she loves to snuggle when she’s getting sleepy :).  We also learned how Josie acts when she’s sick, as she got a urinary tract infection that first week.

I got a lot of advice from ppl on the best way to train your puppy.  One thing I heard about and read about a lot was the so called ‘Alpha Method’.  The idea behind this training is that all dogs in the wild live in a pack, and many people believe that a dog needs a pack leader to be happy and well adjusted.  I tried this with Josie for a few days, basically flipping her on her back or ‘dominating’ her when ever she was being bad.  In our experience this method didn’t work at all.  Josie became withdrawn and sullen.  I soon came to realize that she didn’t really like me any more.  And no wonder!  A dog is not stupid.  Your puppy knows you’re not a dog.  They know you’re a person.  Basically I realized that I was bullying my baby puppy.  And this wasn’t at all necessary to teach her to behave.  We’re still working on listening and obeying, but I don’t expect her to learn to be perfect over night.  Josie knows that I control when she gets to eat, she only gets her toys after she sits or lays down, she gets treats for being good.  I really believe in positive reinforcement.  It has worked really well with Josie so far and we plan to continue using this method of training.

The best advice I can give is to have fun!  Puppies are so fun to be around, I honestly can’t help but smile every time I see her.  I love to play with her, I feel healthier because I’m more active due to walking her at least an hour (combined) every day.  She is so smart!  I know Jack Russells are smart, but Josie literally learned to sit in about 30 minutes and never forgot.  She picks up on games quickly (except fetch), she knows where we hide her stuff, it’s really incredible!

There will definitely be future Josie updates, this week we’re working on ‘down’ and ‘no bite’ hopefully it will go well 🙂

Earth Day!

23 Apr

So yesterday was Earth Day.  And while I know it’s a day to think about the best ways to renew our earth and keep her green and beautiful, I found myself thinking a lot about how we as people live on our planet.

I saw a video recently (Ziegiest 2) that spoke a lot about Capitalism and how it is actually against our own human nature and draws out the very worst in people.  Capitalism nurtures greed, and greed in turn nurtures the most base and reprehensible characteristics in human beings.  We are willing to ignore the needs of others in order to aquire more stuff for ourselves.  This is not only bad for human beings, but also bad for our Earth.  We’re using up our resources much more quickly than they can be renewed all in the name of having more.

If people could find a way to help one another, to live in a world where there are no haves and have nots, every one would have food, every one could have enough.  We now have the technology to create everything we need.  Without capitalism, we could mechanize food production, clothing production, virtually everything.  Our resources could be spread out equally so that no one had to go without.  The 1% of American’s who posses more wealth than the other 99% of Americans combined would certainly have to readjust their way of living.  But I would like to think that knowing ALL people were fed, and clothed, and had a roof over their head would make such a sacrifice easy to make.

Studies have shown that if humans did live in such a united way, with true economic equality, human beings would be happier, mental health would be drastically improved, crime would virtually disappear, and in general Americans would have more time to concentrate their energies on curing cancer, educating their youth, and developing personal skills that were hitherto ignored in pursuit of a paycheck.  In short all people would have the opportunity to find happiness and fulfillment and instead of the American Dream Myth, we would have a truly self fulfilled populace.

If only people could find a way to care more about the well being of their Earth and their fellow human beings, no one would be hungry, no one would be homeless.

‘Imagine all the people, living life in peace.  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.’

In the spirit of helping our fellow human beings, do something good for some one else to celebrate Earth Day!  Go to Kiva.org and donate $25 to help some one else improve their standard of living!  It’s so easy and you can do so much with so little!

Fancy Fingers!

17 Apr

I’ve always loved getting manicures.  As a life long nail biter, I find that having pretty nails keeps me from performing my nervous tick.  Not to mention looking down and seeing pretty nails is always a nice pick me up!

When going over my monthly spending habits (trying to ascertain where in the heck all my money goes!) I realized that going to the nail salon twice a month and tipping the girl who did them for me was adding up to a whopping 80 dollars a month.  Too much for this recent college graduate!

So I opted to start doing them at home.  It’s taken me some practice but I’ve gotten pretty good at doing them myself.  I personally am a huge fan of Sally Hansen products.  You get really high quality polish, finish, and nail primers at a very reasonable price.

I went shopping the other day for some new colors for spring, and so far I’m loving these ‘Easter-esque’ colors.  Matte nail shades are a big trend for this spring and summer, and though I’ve always been pretty partial to my shiny polishes, these pastels have really got a hold on me!

After months of trial and error, I’ve finally put together a kit that works really well for me.  All of this stuff is available at any grocery store or drug store:

To start I usually remove any extra cuticles, mine have a tendency to run wild and it’s not necessarily attractive.  Sally Hansen “Instant Cuticle Remover” is great, you put it on, push your cuticles back and wash all the excess down the drain.  It’s quick (generally takes me less than a minute) and easy!

I use a cuticle clipper next, now that they are soft from the remover I cut away any extras!  My cuticle clipper was $5 at walmart.

Once my cuticles have been clipped, I use lotion to moisturize my nails.  I find that wearing polish almost constantly as I do tends to dry them out.  Nivea Soft hand cream ($7) is perfect for this, and it has a nice clean scent.

Now I work on shaping my nails, I like to wear mine square.  I have a filing block, once I’ve shaped the edges of my nails, I buff the entire nail to help the polish hold.  I think my block was $3.

Next I apply a base coat, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails in clear.  This helps keep my nails strong (mine are naturally brittle) but there are lots of varieties, some bases will help them grow, others promote nail health.  My base polish was $4.

The next part is most definitely my favorite!  I apply my color!

I generally try to make myself wait about 5 minutes between coats to ensure that the color dries completely.  Once I’ve applied two coats of color, I finish with a top coat.  I like Hard as Wraps, this gives my nails a shine that lasts for days, while keeping them strong.  This top coat was $5.

So my entire kit cost me some where around $25.  This is quite a savings compare to $80 a month, plus I can reuse this stuff over and over!  this manicure usually lasts me about 4 days.  It definitely couldn’t get me through two weeks, which is a bummer.  But it does allow me to set aside some time to pamper myself about twice a week, and I really like taking a little break and having some ‘me’ time for pretty nails!

Falling into Spring

2 Mar

Something about this time of year makes me miss fall.  It’s not that I don’t like the rebirth of the trees, the new flowers blossoming every where, the butterflys and baby animals.

I just get nostalgic for the fall.  I love autumn, it’s hands down my favorite time of year.  The leaves changing, the smell of pumpkins and apple cider.  Scarves and mittens.  Football.  There’s something about fall that is just so cozy.

I drove home from Michigan the other day and I found myself thinking of my drives down winding Northern Michigan roads covered in overhanging bows of fat old trees dressed in their autumn best.  There is nothing quite like autumn in a small town.  I’ve lived in larger cities (Lexington and Grand Rapids) during that time of year, and there is just something missing.  There aren’t as many trees to notice.  There’s no small town team to cheer on to regionals.  I connect, in my mind and heart, that retiring time of year to my home where I grew up.  That must be why I feel so comforted by it’s presence.

So this is my little love note to the gold, orange, and red shades of fall.  To apple cider and pumpkin pie.  To light fall jackets, to tweed and wool.  This is my softly blown kiss from 6 months down the road, to that season of delicious books devoured alongside warm fire places.  To the smell of potato soup, the room filled with glittering candle light, and being enveloped by the earthy smells of decomposing life.  I’ll be seeing you.

Audiobooks = ♥

16 Feb

I haven’t posted in a loooooong time.  Not because I’ve been extra busy, or have found a new glamorous life, or because I’m just too awesome for blogging.  Mostly because I’m just bored and boring.  But I do miss my writing so much.  I read a book by Steven King once called “On Writing” for any aspiring writers out there, I highly recommend this book, it’s incredible.  I’m a huge king fan in general, but I think there were many truths in this book that can’t be denied.  One of them is that if you don’t read, you shouldn’t write.

I’ve been saving up for an e-reader, which isn’t easy with the anchor of student debt dragging  me under, but that’s a blog for a different day.  In the meant time I’ve been getting by with Audible, an awesome program that allows you to purchase a membership to an audible book ‘club’.  With this membership, you can download one book a month, free of charge, and you receive any books after this at a reduced price.

So I’m now basically addicted to listening to books while I work.  I love the Audible app for my phone, that allows me to listen to books without using any storage space on my phone.  I listen to them in the car on my long trips up north.  I listen to them while I get ready for work.  Like I said, addicted.

And apparently on a Steven King kick once again.  I loved Steven King in High School, mainly because I was completely enthralled with the horror genre.  In college I read a few books by him in classes, which I found surprising and refreshingly progressive, not that I don’t love Jane Eyre or Elizabeth Bennett as much as the next as English Major, but reading something written during this century is sometimes a nice break.  In the last few months I’ve listened to the entire dark tower series (awesome) and am now listening to his newest book Under the Dome.

One thing I enjoy most about King’s writing is his excellent skill in character development.  Even if the story becomes disappointing or the ending leaves me feeling less than satisfied, I always find characters to love and connect with.  I hope that if I ever reach a point where I am writing novels, my characters will speak to people the way his characters speak to me.  They become almost real tangible beings for me.  I hear things, or see things after the book is long on put back on the shelf, that remind me of those characters as though they were old friends I once knew in grade school.

I think, much like in our real lives, it’s the people that make the story worth reading in the end.

Itunes Blows…seriously.

30 Aug

Okay so I am admittedly sometimes computerly challenged.  But I have been both a Mac and a PC owner over the years.  Hated my Dell, loved my Macs (even though they both bit the dust after only 2 years), love love love my Sony.

One thing that all of these computer had in common: a completely horrible relationship with Itunes.

Every time I have to do anything in this program aside from listening to music (which is in itself sometimes a hair pulling ordeal) I want to kill Barney.  Seriously Apple…WTF?

This program is painfully slow.  My PC is regularly update, I clean my registry, do a full computer scan, and defrag my my hard drive as needed.  Nothing on my computer is slow.  I play video games…magnificent.  I watch movies…perfection.  Try to use Itunes….Screeching halt…nothing works.

I just can’t understand what the problem is.  Supposedly Apple products are easier to use, have better navigation, and make your life simpler.  Not true with Itunes.  Deleting a music file legitimately takes 1 minute on my computer…why?  Because Apple needs to check with me to make sure that this is really what I wanted to do (as though if I did happen to delete something on accident, I couldn’t just access it and reinstate it to all it’s full functioning glory from my recycle bin.)  But this little message with it’s three choices of ‘are you sure’, ‘are you really really sure‘ or  ‘how about we recycle just in case’ has to load….and this takes an eon in computer time.  (For those of you who don’t know…computer time is infinitely faster than human time.  I feel like a piece of me has died of old age by the time the message finally appears.)

Even if I close every other application on my computer (which I shouldn’t have to do because my computer is more than capable of running Itunes, firefox, and BitDefender at once…it still takes forever.

Currently I’m trying to delete duplicate music that got transferred twice from my old Mac.  This is a chore I have been putting off for months because I know it’s going to take me all day to finish it, simply because Itunes is so unresponsive and slow.

The kicker is, I actually love a lot of Apple products.  I do believe that they are over priced, and that Apple has a really awful customer service philosophy (IE over priced warranties that really don’t cover anything and products they phase out by issuing incompatible OS’s for (hello Iphone 3g)) But I love my Iphone, and I have seriously been considering purchasing an Ipad as an E-reader.  The only thing holding me back?  I’ll have to sync it with the program of slow agonizing death (aka Itunes).

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.

4 Aug

I’m a book person.  I love books.  I taught myself to read before kindergarten, I was too impatient to wait for Mrs. Lovitt to do the job properly.  Consequently I have issues learning new words (sounding them out is simply not my thing) but I have also never been with out a book since then.  Before I entered third grade I had read every Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Baby Sitters’ Club book I could get my hands on.  Then I started in on the Box Car Children.  My classmates were mostly the type of people who hated reading, so I was most definitely the odd girl out.  But I didn’t care.

This love of reading has followed me through life, first culminating in a degree in English Language and Literature, next leading me to pursue a Master’s in Library Sciences.  I firmly believe that a good relationship with literature leads to a good relationship with yourself.  The best way to learn to be an open person is to immerse yourself in literature.  How else can you travel to hundreds of places in the world and meet thousands of people?  The study of literature is the study of what it means to be a human being, any human being.  It’s the most enduring legacy we as people can leave behind for future generations.  Reading teaches empathy, compassion, and fosters a wider birth of knowledge.

Needless to say I’m a big fan.  If you need further proof I can direct you to my burgeoning boxes of books and my bookshelves pleading for mercy as their shelves are stacked with more and more beloved novels.

Recently (okay not so recently…but anyway) a nifty solution to both my storage problems and green sensibilities has become available.

I have been toying with the idea of buying an e-reader for at least three years.  I remember when the Amazon Kindle first came out and it seemed like the greatest invention since sliced bread.  Since that time Sony has come out with three different e-readers, Barnes & Noble has the Nook, and it seems like every few months the Amazon Kindle gets refurbished and comes back new and improved.  So I’ve been asking myself lately do I let go of the experience of reading an actual book (the smell the actual physical connection)…or do I go for the updated version that will save me space and is good for the environment?

Decisions, decisions!

I have to say that if  I do purchase an e-reader, I will most likely go for the Nook.  I love it’s color screen and user interface.  And though it’s definitely girly to say so, I like my tech equipment to be aesthetically pleasing and on that account the Nook definitely beats out the competition.  Another perk of owning an e-reader is the incredible prices on books (and often offers of free books!) so you can definitely get some bang for your initial buck (any where from $139 for the Kindle to upwards of $400 for higher end e-readers) down the line when it comes to the amount you will most likely save in purchasing digital books as opposed to the real thing.

I have a feeling that even if I do purchase a Nook or one of it’s counterparts, I’ll still give in to my impulse to buy an actual book.  To me a home is not a home if every room in the house doesn’t have books scattered about.