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My Best Deal Yet

17 Jan

I’ve had Puppy Fever for a few months now. Our 11-year-old Cockapoo, Phoebe, is still healthy and rules the house, but she can be crotchety (a terrible but befitting word).

This was several years ago but one of my favorite photos.

I love dogs and figured my three-year-old son could use a puppy to grow with. Plus I’d heard good things about adding a second dog–enlivens the original dog, the older one shows the younger one the ropes, they become pals.

I’ve been checking our Humane Society website every day–twice a day typically, because the dogs get adopted so quickly. When I started this process in August, there was a really mangy looking Wheaten Terrier mix on there, and I went to the Humane Society to check him out. They didn’t have much information on him but knew he was about 10 months old.

This isn't him but close.

Source

That was the type of dog I was looking for (I thought) but he was a little big already and wild and it was a Friday. I decided to wait, knowing that he would probably get adopted over the weekend (the non-shedding/non-Lab/non-Pit Bulls usually do). But it was the very beginning of my search and I figured if he were still there on Monday, I’d go back and get him.

He wasn’t, so I kept looking and researching other dogs that might fit what I was looking for. I explored the Wheaten Rescue in our area but they wouldn’t adopt to a family with children younger than six. Red Flag. The more I researched that breed the more I learned that maybe the Wheaten wasn’t for us. They can be territorial with young children, and that was definitely not what I wanted.

A man at my husband’s work suggested the Tibetan Terrier.

You can keep their hair short, which I would.

Source

It’s not really a terrier at all but a medium-sized dog that was originally bred as mountain dogs by monks in Tibet. I did some more research on them and agreed they sounded like a good dog for us. Between 18 – 30 lbs and non-shedding plus good with kids and quirky. We found this guy at a breeder in Missouri.

Hard to resist, isn't he?

But he was $600 and at a home with A LOT of other puppies so I was concerned that it was a puppy mill situation. Most of the breeders I researched were charging between $1200 and $1800 for their puppies, so again the red flag.

Another possibility was a Portuguese Water Dog.

They're cute, huh?

Source

This breed was made really popular in the last few years once the Obamas added their boy, Bo, to the White House. My research showed that this was a good choice though, although the price was still steep at around $15oo for most breeders. The size was right–typically between 35 and 60 lbs and non-shedding. I wanted a “bigger” dog this time for a few reasons–a walking partner for me, someone to romp around the backyard with the kids, and a dog big enough that I would be encouraged to keep him off of the furniture. Phoebe is ruining my I-paid-too-much-but-thought-Ethan-Allen-was-closing-for-good-sofa and you know, old dogs/new tricks and all.

Anyway, a few days before Christmas and about 20 hours after I had said to my husband “Eventually, I think I’ll find the right dog at the Humane Society,” this guy showed up online. He was listed as a Portuguese Water Dog Mix.

What a face, right?

It was about 10:30 in the morning when I saw him on the website. I walked out of work and drove straight to the Humane Society. When they went to get him I heard one of the workers saying, “I don’t think that’s a Portuguese Water Dog.” So I yelled out to them, “Well, what do you think it is then?” (I didn’t want this to be the ol’ bait and switch.) But they didn’t know. They just didn’t think there were many in our area, much less one who would be wandering around in the country, like this guy was.

Carol, the Humane Society volunteer who brought him to me, speculated with me on the real breed. She didn’t know either but thought the markings looked like a PWD (although after a little research, I find that most PWDs are black with a little white. He’s white with a little black.) And she assured me she thought his coat felt more hairlike than fur-like (meaning a non-shedder), although she said, “Don’t hold me to it.” And we both agreed that his paws didn’t look too big, so he didn’t appear to be “a big dog.”

So I paid my $350 adoption fee, named him Furble (a name my daughter had invented when we started our puppy search,) brought him home, and he was an early Christmas surprise from Santa. The note said something about him not staying still in the sled.

My husband and I were more excited about him than the kids, but I’d been searching for six months so it felt meant to be.

Not sure what kind of look the boy has on his face here but concentrate on the puppy.

The neighbors came over the next night for a little Holiday Cheer, and they all predicted on paper what they thought Furble would weigh a year from now. Thoughts ranged from 35 lbs and a non-shedder to 110 lbs and shedding!

Three weeks, six painful days of diarrhea, one respiratory infection, three prescription drugs, two bags of prescription dog food, a day’s worth of IV fluids, and, oh yeah, the rush of Christmas, New Year’s and 17 days of no school, and Furble seems right at home. I truly think his illness was stress. God knows I was stressed! I still think he was a bargain.

It snowed the other afternoon and he and Phoebe romped around the yard a ton. The kids are really enjoying him. He’s doing pretty well at the kennel thing, and I’m eager for his little bladder to get a little bigger, but he does seem to “get it.”

As for his size . . . he’s doubled probably (I’ll post updated photos soon). Breed speculations range from my husband who says he’s a Tibetan Terrier/Portuguese Water Dog mix (forever the optimist). I say he’s got some BIG ol’ dog in him. His head seems abnormally large at this point, and I often think he looks like a Newfoundland. I’ve heard Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Poodle, you name it. Whatever he is, we’re enjoying him. As for his fur and size, only time will tell.

I don’t see him returning to the North Pole anytime soon.

Home Goals 2012

10 Jan

The Nester, one of my absolute favorites, is hosting a Home Goals Linky Party this week and so it’s the perfect time for me to lay out some of my plans for this year. I created a similar list last year . . . projects I wanted to get done. I put it on the fridge so I could cross things out as I went but mainly so I could stay on task. I tend to get a little ADD when it comes to DIY. I’ll start some project and then see something else that I think is a great idea so then start something else. Writing things down helps to keep me accountable.

So here it is. By the end of May (some perfect cold-weather tasks), I would like to have my Dressing Room complete. I love this room. I spend a lot of time in it, but if I want to be featured on that last page of Better Homes and Gardens,  you know the “I did it!” page (a little goal of mine), it needs some serious work, starting with this ottoman.

At 4′ x 4′, the size is awesome and it’s totally functional (meaning strewn with several items of clothing on most days) but the fabric is dreary and it only reinforces how dreary that rug is (a remnant from the basement). They both need to be changed. So, I’ll be on the lookout for a bright and feminine rug or maybe an animal print and fabric for this ottoman–lately I’ve been thinking a pretty yellow velveteen or something. I was going to do the animal print on the ottoman. In fact, it’s why I bought the giraffe print that became this, but again, that ADD set in and I went another route. Plus I thought it might look like a big ol’ cow or something in the middle of the room. Anyway, I’m also determining if I’m going to try to take on the reupholstering (a major feat) or budget for someone else to do it. Stay tuned!

Next item, those closet doors! (please read “Those closet doors!” with the same emphasis as the stepsisters in Cinderella do when they talk about “These beads! That sash! Why I wouldn’t be caught dead in them!”) Wait, I’m checking YouTube . . . a quick search and I can’t find it (I can find where they rip the sash and beads off of Cinderella but not the one where they discard them in the first place–the bitches). Anyway, these closet doors are deplorable. What is this wood?

It’s hideous and it needs to be covered. I’ve got a couple thoughts on that. I loved, loved what Kevin and Layla did on The Lettered Cottage. Amazing! But mine are sliders and I kinda want to work with what I have, although I desperately need a full-length mirror in there. I have no good full-length mirror in my house (perhaps that’s why I still have this extreme self-confidence thing going). Anyway, I was thinking about wallpapering them, and my friend told me about something with fabric and starch that she saw on The Nate Berkus Show (which I don’t watch but clearly need to start). I need to find out more about that.

And obviously the whole room and TRIM need to be painted. Also deplorable.

But here is the last project I have in mind. I’m excited about this one because I think these are awesome and should make for a pretty easy DIY. I saw this in the Ballard Design Catalog and thought it would be perfect for my Dressing Room. I love the taller spaces for boots.

The shorter one is $360 and the taller one is $600. I found this little wood bookshelf on Craigslist. The listing was “Orange painted book shelf – $10.” Sold!

It’s ugly but it’s solid.

So that’s it. I’m not going any further than May right now. I definitely have more projects in mind, most of which involve contractors, so I’m sticking with what’s attainable at the moment. Small chunks, right?

How about you? Any home projects on your horizon?

Festive Centerpieces

13 Dec

My friend Stacey turned me on to these lanterns at ShopKo.

They had some great red ones in their holiday decor and then these in the everyday decor section. ShopKo is not typically known for its design aesthetic but these were solid and had nice shapes and great prices at $14.99 each.

I had recently acquired an enamalware bowl at Goodwill for $4 and wanted to incorporate it into my Christmas decor. I combined it with one of the red lanterns, a Christmas napkin and leftover fake greenery and was proud of the results.

Several months back I had sent my kids and the neighbor kids on a pine cone hunt because I hate to think of purchasing pine cones when they’re in ready supply around the neighborhood. The kids had a riot and I got a bagful that made for festive filler in this centerpiece.

Putting this together inspired gift ideas for my hard-t0-buy-for-step-sister and my mom. I found some more baskets at Goodwill that would make for good bases.

I tried to get rectangular- or oval-shaped baskets to serve as the bases because the lanterns were bigger and I wanted to incorporate some live Poinsettias. These baskets are pretty easy to find at thrift stores and run about $4 each. Stacey also told me about ShopKo’s faux candles at half-price so I picked up some of those.

I had to build up the base because I wanted the piece to have some varying heights. I used whatever I had around–some floral foam in one and a box, styrofoam and newspaper in the other.

The Poinsettias were the four-inch pots from Home Depot at $3.99 each. I did two in each centerpiece and filled in the rest with pine cones.

Phoebe, the Cockapoo, approved.

Definitely liked the more natural glow on the pine cone candle below but it wouldn’t fit into this more slender lantern.

We celebrated our Christmas with this part of the family this past weekend and my stepsister and mom were thrilled with my creations. They both had future entertaining in their holiday schedule and were excited to have these inviting pieces as part of their tables.

Dish Towels – A Practical Gift

11 Dec

I’ve been called practical. I hope that’s not code for cheap . . . thrifty maybe. Smart, I’d like to think. Whatever it is, with practicality in mind, I like to give gifts that serve a little purpose. I like to think that when people use their gift from me, they think, “Gosh that Stacy, she’s so clever.”

So, I love a good dish towel. I really like dish towels from Williams-Sonoma. They come in good colors, and they last forever. (PS – Now that my husband and I have hit the 10-year mark in our marriage, I often think about those wedding gifts that have lasted long and my W-S stuff really has. For example that rattan stuff lasts FOREVER! I’ve been using my fruit basket as a fruit basket every day for 10 1/2 years and it still looks like new. It’s had its share of moldy fruit, onion skin and gunk but I can rinse it and it still looks great. Sorry . . . I digress.)

Around Thanksgiving, Williams-Sonoma puts their tableware, including dish towels, at 15 percent off. It’s not an amazing discount but it’s something.

I buy a pack to use for my teacher gifts. And I bake the only thing that I ever bake–Banana Bread.

I love to give Thanksgiving gifts for two reasons. One – It’s one less thing I have to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Two – I think it makes sense to give Thanksgiving gifts to people to whom you’re really thankful–like your kids’ teachers.

This year I got some really cute string to help with my holiday packaging.

I wrap the bread in plastic wrap and then wrap it in the towel.

For another idea, I wrapped the bottom of a Poinsettia in a towel for a recent house-warming gift.

I don’t know if anyone was making the Clever Stacy comments that I was imagining but I was pretty pleased with the results.

October Decor

8 Nov

I almost hate to post such awful photography (especially when I read blogs like Miss Mustard Seed and The Lettered Cottage) but I personally want an archive of my decor from October. I was pleased with how the house turned out and want a record for next year.

I love breaking out the fall colors. I found that little black chair in the corner for $6 at Goodwill recently. It’s a solid Nichols and Stone Co. and makes for convenient extra seating that doesn’t fall apart (much unlike the spindle Windsor reproductions that go around the table that my husband told me not to buy because we have young children and young children like to hang on spindles but I bought anyway because they LOOK awesome but I get embarrassed whenever we have people over and try to strategically make sure that only family members sit in the chairs that are falling apart. Whew!)

There’s that 1950s-style fireplace that I loathe! I did like the way my mini pumpkins turned out. Notice the white one (pretty clever, eh?–“one of these things is not like the other . . . “).

A closer look.

One of my recent purchases (the dress form–$68 at an antiques shop) again looks dark but gets a shot of color with a favorite orange scarf. And she (her name is Asabelle, btw) helps to break up the long, long living room wall that continues to be a challenge for me.

A long shot of the long living room.

My favorite part of this year’s decor was my piano top. Again I wish it was lit better for a better photo but I was proud of the candle chandelier ($2 at an estate sale) that I  hung from hemp twine from the ceiling, the use of my chalkboard, a candy bowl full of eyeballs, a plateful of fingers and no color orange in this spooky vignette.

A tighter shot . . . do you like the duck feet (a candle holder) on the skull? OK, and the fingers are actually tubes of bubbles. Next year I will look for something more authentic, but the kids sure liked these.

Some of this stuff will translate well right into Thanksgiving decor, which is nice.

One step forward . . . and then another trip to Joanns

6 Oct

Not sure if it’s fair to get two posts out of my painting but it has taken me two days. I truly thought that two cans of the Ivy Leaf would cover the chair but it didn’t.

So I had to go back to Joann’s, this time with no coupon (Boo!) and get one more can. And it makes me sad that they lock the spray paint in a glass cabinet and you have to get someone with a key to get it out. And two different Joann’s gals asked me if I was 18, which they definitely knew I was btw because of the Crow’s Feet, but it was their policy. And is it snide and uncaring that I don’t understand how a teenager could sniff spray paint and it not be written (literally) all over his face? It’s funny to envision (in a sick sort of way) and God-forbid if my kids ever sniff anything!

But anyway, that’s how life rolls with a job and two littles . . . you get one free hour to paint and MAYBE one free 30 minutes to run to the store. Thank God I work part-time. I’m discovering my Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are precious for productivity.

Hubby got inspired

5 Oct

I don’t know what got into him, but MM started sanding the other day. Well, first he and the neighbor helped me tackle the rusted old screws that were holding onto the dowels that were holding onto the fabric.

It was literally a two-man job and still they couldn’t remove one of the screws.

But then he started sanding (without being asked) . . .

So I just stepped away, grabbed my phone to take another good quality iPhone pic, and shut my mouth. He’s the best husband but he’s not so much for the hands-on work or the honey-do list or the taking over these little projects that I take on. That all said, when he does get involved, things are always better. He’s got a surprisingly (especially for a straight guy) eye for color when I need an opinion. And he’s a good painter. When he did the armoire/pantry, it looked professionally done. And so I really appreciated the sanding.

So this bit of progress is brought to you by Mike . . .

The “before” . . . duh!

4 Oct

So I’m a bad blogger. There’s nothing better than a good “before” photo and I forgot to take one. Here is a mocked-up one taken before we started painting. Although the chair is sanded, you get the idea . . .

It was pretty rough (ps – My little assistant is helping me in this one. We spend Tuesday and Thursday afternoons together and he’s getting quite good at thrifting and painting and being patient with my little projects).

I liked the fabric . . . at one time, it was definitely pretty but it was mildewy and completely faded.

The green is going to work well, I think, as the background of the new Ivy Leaf. I’m hoping it will take a few less coats.

Here’s to small bits of PROGRESS at a time.

A Wild Hammock Chair

3 Oct

So I’ve had an old hammock chair sitting in the garage for the past three or four years. I have another one that is in decent condition that has sat on my front porch throughout the summer.  I love the look of these chairs (fully expect them to come back in fashion soon). They are comfortable, compatible and cute.

I had purchased this fabric for yet another clever project on my list.

I love it and thought it would be adorable on the chair sitting on my porch throughout the fall. I think I was subconsciously inspired by my favorite flip-flops.

They are the most comfortable, versatile shoes that I wear all summer. They seriously go with everything and I’ve looked for replacements and they don’t make this pattern anymore. 😦

So what frame color? I thought a true Kelly green would be cute. I had something specific in mind but finding the right spray paint can be difficult. I picked up this at Home Depot.

The color is too Christmasy and not what I was looking for. I started to think about just getting some canned paint and tracking down our paint-sprayer from one of the neighbors. That would certainly make for two or three days of posts–me working with the paint sprayer and extend this one project throughout the month of October . . . but then I found this color at Joann’s.

It’s definitely more expected and trendier than I was originally thinking, but I think it’s going to work perfectly. It’s called Ivy Leaf but it definitely reads good old-fashioned Pea Green to me (not a name a marketer is going to use on a can).

Thankfully we’ve been having beautiful weather, so this is the week to get the sanding and spraying done. Stay tuned.

31 Days of . . .

1 Oct

So it’s October 1 and I’ve got an experiment. The Nester introduced the 31 Days concept and I thought “it’s either now or never.” I’m committed to writing for 31 days, and at the end of it, I’m going to decide whether to keep this blog going or hang it up for another day.

I won’t be mad at myself or disappointed either if the answer is “hang it up.” But I think I need the 31 days to decide.

So my 31 days? Thirty-one days of progress. I have a list I started of house projects. Clever little things I intend to get done–ideas that are good but are going to take some effort to get accomplished. And with two littles at home, work every day, and other commitments, I make very small, sporadic dents in my little list. And I think I’m very scattered when it comes to the things needed to get the things done. I’ll go to the fabric store and start thinking of my curtains that I want for the living room, then I’ll see some other fabric and think that would work great to recover that chair, then I’ll see some other that I like and think “what can I do with that?” And I leave with more ideas to add to the list and very little accomplished.

So I’m going to just going to pick a project (not necessarily the top of the list) but just one and work on that and get that accomplished so I can mark it off and move on to the next.

So here’s to progress . . . and blogging. 🙂