Monday, May 21, 2012

A Very Hard Week

Having a puppy has probably been one of the hardest things I've ever done. I'm seriously lacking sleep and sometimes it feels like I'm walking around in a dream. I keep telling myself that it will get better but since I'm so tired it's hard to believe. I keep telling myself I can do it, that nobody would have a dog if they didn't get better. But then she cries from 4am-5am and I wonder if I'm lying to myself. I made a commitment to take care of her and I will but I'm just so discouraged.

I'm also angry. I'm angry at media for portraying having a puppy as easy and happy all the time. They never show the accidents, never show the incessant whining, and never show how much work a puppy really is. Every movie and TV show depicts a cute small dog being friends with its owner and doing cute things constantly. Penny does cute things sometimes, between crying and going to the bathroom.

I'm also angry at the dog books I read. They didn't say anything about how long a dog will cry when you first put her in her crate. They didn't talk about being sleep deprived and feeling like a slave in your own house. They didn't give tips on how to keep a puppy quiet or how to still have time for yourself. Maybe I'll write a book about how it really is.

I can do this and I will do this. It will get better. Penny is just a baby and needs my help. It will be okay in the end.

Won't it?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Penny: Our First Day

At 5:00 on Monday, May 14 Penny the Keeshond puppy joined our family. Penny was born on March 16 in Tennessee. We drove to the airport and picked her up at the American Airlines baggage office.
Yes, I took a picture of the sign. Don't judge.
While I was patiently anxiously waiting for Penny to arrive I stopped by the odd size luggage pick up area. While I was there I saw this nice man unloading parcels. AND I SAW PENNY'S CRATE IN THE BACKGROUND!
There's a man who is super happy to be at work... not.
Penny was carried in by the baggage thrower through a door next to the odd size luggage area. I was so excited to finally see her and she was excited to see us too.
I love when you can see her tiny puppy tongue.
While Doug signed for her I got lots of puppy kisses through the bars of the crate. She was so happy to see people! I think she traveled really well. She didn't throw up and she only had a tinkle in the back corner of her crate and no puppy poops. I was expecting her to be a little messy when she arrived so it was a pleasant surprise that she wasn't.
Doug set her down to dry off his fingers from all her kisses.
On the way to the car Penny couldn't have been happier. She kept licking Doug's fingers. She looks really small in her crate but this is the size she'll need when she's grown up. I think it was nicer for her to travel in a bigger one. When we got the car we gave her some cool water which she happily drank. Then I wanted to take a picture of her and ended up making this movie instead:
Since Penny had been in her crate for most of the day, we brought a box and a blanket for her to ride home in. I held it on my lap in the backseat while Doug drove.
Riding home.
She had such a long day that she ended up falling asleep. She was so cute on my lap. I couldn't stop smiling.
A sleepy puppy
When she woke up she started whining a little and looking out the window. Doug pulled over by a nice patch of lawn at the Orem community hospital and we took her out. We were happily surprised when she went to the bathroom! She's already smart enough not to go where she sleeps.
A happy girl with her happy puppy.
We stopped by Petco on the way home to get her a name tag. It has her name and my phone number on a little heart shaped steel tag.
Relaxing on the lawn
We gave Penny some good exercise around our front yard when we finally got home. She liked watching the cars and finding seedpods in the grass. She would nose around until she found something fun to try to eat. I pulled more foreign plant material out of her mouth than I thought was possible.
 After a long and happy day Penny played with her squeaky bone. And I made Doug film a movie of it:
We had a long first night. Penny didn't like sleeping in her crate and whined a lot. Once she was asleep she was okay. She slept in about 4 hour shifts. She has been a lot better about being in her crate today. I think she realizes that we won't leave her alone for too long and that she's safe there.

What do you think of our sweet girl? Do you have any suggestions for training? Any ideas on how to help our cat Biscuit adjust well?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bird's Nest Necklace

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Since I hate buying impersonal gifts for people, and because making things is cheaper, I made this wonderful bird's nest necklace for my mom. I had seen these before and wanted to try my hand at making one.

The "eggs" are freshwater pearls. The pearls and "nest" wire came from a great local bead shop called The Bead Fairy. The chain, jump ring, and clasp (not pictured) are all from Michaels arts and crafts store. The picture makes it look kind of gold, but it's silver. Someday I'll be able to take a good picture.

As far as the process of making it, I just made it up as I went. Two pairs of needle nose pliers and wire cutters were my handy assistants for this project. First, I wired the pearls together. Then I made some web-ish type thing on the back of them. I wound the wire around the "eggs" to keep them in a nice cozy nest. To keep the nest from falling apart I wound wire around in three different places. I ended by making the loop to put it on the chain.

What did you get your mom for Mother's Day? Do you prefer to make gifts or buy them (and why)?

P.S. The English language is crap. I got a little confused while editing this post. Here's why:
  • Wind: blowing air
  • Wind: to have a spiral direction
  • Wound: an injury
  • Wound: past tense of wind, but not the blowing wind, the spiral wind
Such garbage.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Books I've Read: The Art of Racing in the Rain

For Christmas I was blessed with the gift of a Kindle reader from my wonderful in-laws. I have always loved to read but it was so hard to take my book with me. Now I always have a library in my purse.

This is the most recent book that I finished.

This book was written from the perspective of Enzo, who is a dog. His best friend, Denny, is a race car driver. This book follows Enzo and Denny on their journey through life with many insights from racing. Denny, with Enzo by his side, is faced with the death of his wife and a custody battle with her parents over his daughter while trying to maintain his job as a driver. Click here for an excerpt from Chapter 1. 

Usually I get annoyed with New York Times best sellers (Twilight? for real? it was terrible writing) but this one is worth reading. I will never look at a dog the same way again. I ended this novel in hopeful tears and filled with awe over the love between a dog and his master. Looking at the triumphs and sorrows of life through a dog's eyes makes me even more excited to bring a puppy into our family.

Monday, May 7, 2012

New Earrings

WARNING! Do not read this post if you dislike ears. There are multiple photos of my debut as an earring model. I'm serious, unless you're my husband or my mom, you've never seen my ears like this before. You've been fairly warned.

I finally got crafty! It felt great. I made these beautiful earrings and a gift for my mom for Mother's Day. Stay tuned for the Mother's Day gift on Monday, May 14 ( I don't want to post it earlier and spoil her surprise). So, how did I make the earrings?

cabochon flower earringzipper earring

I started with some things I wanted to wear as earrings. Little cabochon flowers and some zipper pulls.  I also used some earring posts, backs, and industrial strength glue. E-6000 is the most amazing thing EVER! I have used it on multiple projects and they are all still going strong.


zipper earrings

The instructions on the E-6000 said to put some adhesive on both sides, let it sit for 3-5 minutes and get tacky, then to stick the pieces together. You can see in the photo above that there was some glue that squeezed out around the edges. When it wasn't sticky anymore I just pulled off the excess.

I went a little crazy with how many pairs of earrings I made. Now I have one pair for every day of the week.

cabochon flower earring
cabochon flower earring

Which is your favorite pair? What have you made lately?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spending Plan

I am so glad I started a blog because it gives me a place to voice my opinion. While I was living at the U of U I had absurd amounts of money and nothing to spend it on. Unlike most students I had few expenses and no debt.
I was so relaxed with no expenses
My school costs were covered by a wonderfully generous scholarship. My room and board were covered by my work as a Residential Advisor. The money I made at student jobs had no purpose. While I had dollars flowing into my bank account, I also had no spending plan. Over the three years that I lived at the U, if I didn't spend any money, I could have saved up over $7000. On average I earned just under $200 a month. I truly had no expenses. Instead I had unplanned wants. Those wants caused me to spend the majority of the money I made. When I kept track of where my money was going, I was SHOCKED! I spent a lot of money eating out and a lot of money on clothes. I don't regret those decisions because it taught me a valuable lesson. I am just grateful I learned that lesson when I was younger and before I got married. So what do I do with my money now?
Residential Advisers: Pam, ME with brown hair, Lisa and Lavender
I have a spending plan! A spending plan sounds so much nicer than a budget. Every month is laid out in an Excel spreadsheet. It has categories for everything I spend money on. I allot myself a reasonable amount in each category and keep track of it weekly. The monthly allotment is based on yearly income minus the amount I want to save. I also have a spreadsheet for my yearly budget. Each month gets adjusted accordingly. For example, the yearly budget for gifts is about $300. If I divided that evenly it would be $25 a month. However, if I spend $25 a month until I get to December, then everyone on my Christmas list will be getting an item from the dollar store. I allot about $100 for gifts in November and $100 in December, leaving $10 each month for the previous months.
Accounting Glasses
Me in my dorky accounting glasses
How did I make my spending plan? First I looked at everything I had spend money on in one month. I based my plan on those numbers. For some things I cut back a lot. I had been spending close to $100 on eating out and that had to stop. I changed my monthly eating out plan to $50. Make sure you plan the necessities first and the wants later. Rent, utilities, insurance, and groceries always get planned first. If I had any debt that would be taken care of with the necessities. The left over money gets divided into the "wants/luxuries" categories.
Girl with a mustache
Fake mustache for Halloween goes in the wants/luxuries category
How do I  keep track of what I spend? First, I only use a debit card. I have direct deposit so I rarely have cash lying around. If I get $20 or less in cash it is usually a gift and I treat it as something extra that I don't have to keep track of. If it is more than $20, even if it is a gift, I put in into my account so I can keep track of it. Some people prefer to only use cash when they budget. They put the amount for each category into an envelope and when it's gone you're out of luck. I have a hard time keeping track of receipts so it's easier for me to use my debit card and look at my account statement later. I would probably save more if I used cash, but I'm not super strict about the amount each month as long as it averages out over the year.

What do I do if there's a hick-up in the spending plan? Usually I readjust. I move money from one category to another. For example, this year I'm spending a lot more on pets than usual because we're getting a dog. I have spent less on clothing and entertainment so some of that money has been moved to cover the additional pet costs. If I didn't have extra in another category I would reevaluate what is most important to me and cut down my spending in less critical areas.

Be realistic when making your plan. Obviously you shouldn't be spending more than you make but don't be overly stingy especially if you haven't had a spending plan before. When I first made my plan I went over quite often. It helped me to divide the month further into a weekly amount, and sometimes even a daily amount. Whenever I wanted to eat out I had to think that I only had $1.66 for the day unless I saved it up for an $11 meal at the end of the week.
All that planning is worth it if you end up with a front yard like this
There is no right or wrong in your spending plan as long as you're paying off debt, saving money, and meeting needs before wants. I am far from rich but my savings plan has allowed me to live free from debt and financial burden with enough extra to fulfill my small wants.

My post today was inspired by this article. What is your savings plan like? If you need any help developing a savings plan or if you have any questions just leave me a comment below.

P.S. Sorry for the poor quality photos. They are all from college and taken with a low quality phone. I should have spent some of my extra money on a camera.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blue Skies

I've been feeling a bit under the weather with a spring cold. Today I made it outside with Biscuit to enjoy the blue sky and warmer weather. Here are a few pictures of the handsome boy.


I have a few new craft projects lined up but since I haven't been feeling well they've been put on the back burner. Preparing for our puppy Penny has also been taking a lot of time. Hopefully after this weekend I'll have a beautifully completed craft to show you.