Thursday, January 22, 2015

One Year Later

I can hardly believe we've had Olive for an entire year! The time has really flown by, and we can't even remember what life was like without this little dog. We officially adopted her on January 22nd, 2014, I did an update on how she was doing shortly after, and the last time I blogged about her was for her 2nd birthday (yes, we threw her a party). In case you didn't remember, she came to us very afraid of pretty much everything (people, noises, cars, etc.), and today she's a totally different dog.

I'd say Olive is still pretty timid, but she has come so far. We realized that being around other dogs is the one big thing that will make her feel confident, so we try and have play time with cousin Hank, and we also drop her off for doggy play days at Taurus. It was really hard to leave her for the first time... I almost cried to be honest. Totally ridiculous, what can I say. But, now that I see how much she loves it, and how confident she feels afterwards, I'm happy to take her there.

One thing I've noticed from looking through the pictures I've taken of her is that she nearly always has a stuffed toy in her mouth. If it's not in her mouth, it's likely under her head, because she'll rarely sleep without a pillow, which I think is hysterical.

Will you be my Valentine?

Olive's typical day involves short walks, a couple rounds of fetch, naps, lots of pets, more naps, some kibble, tail wags, and... some more naps.

We still really haven't trained her to do any commands (does that make us bad parents?), but she already knew so much as far as proper behavior when we got her that we didn't feel much need. This girl LOVES to play fetch and will go and go until her legs are shaking! As soon as you pick up the ball, she takes off running assuming you'll throw it for her, then she brings it back and drops it at your feet. The perfect little fetcher.

She's a complete hoarder and likes to keep her favorite stuffies close-by.

She pretty much hates having her picture taken, which is weird since I have no idea how she'd know that that's what I'm doing. Catching her looking at me is a rare occasion... usually I just get this "I'm going to look away until you stop" face.

Sometimes, when she's feeling extra brave, she'll venture off of her regular couch cushion and come over and share the blanket with me.

This is her "I refuse to continue playing with this stuffie until you put the camera down and look away" face.

John is greeted every night at this spot on the couch. Her tail has to work overtime to wag because the cushion gets in the way, and then she builds up lots of static electricity. Hah!

As it turns out, Olive really likes cats, but doesn't seem to understand that they're not dogs. She'll almost pounce on them, trying to say she wants to play, and then they'll get spooked and run off. The one exception to that is this cat, who we call El Gato Loco, because he's just crazy enough to stick around and see what Olive will do to him. Usually, after they greet each other, El Gato Loco will lie down and roll around on his back while Olive gives him a good sniff.

Possibly my favorite picture of Olive ever was during her first bath. She looks like a pathetic little puppy. She's good at putting on these sad eyes when she's not actually very sad. When I posted this to Instagram, I included "#thatsnotmyarm" which a lot of people thought was funny. Turns out, this is a pretty popular hashtag. Check it out.


She's also a great passenger. She loves to get in the car and go to my dad's or my in-laws' house. You can barely see that she has a little matching leash that anchors her to the back seat. She can just barely get her paws on the center console, but can't go any farther.

What kind of dog would she be if she didn't have a healthy love of de-stuffing her stuffies?

Because she has such long fur when she's not shaved, we've learned we have to trim underneath her paws to avoid sticker burr insanity.

"Thanks for giving me Carl the Crawfish, Aunt Steph!" (yes, I oftentimes speak for Olive)

The first time we really shaved her down for the summer, I was completely shocked at how small she was under all that fur!

John rolls around on the floor with her like he's a dog. Everrrry now and then, when she's lucky, he'll crawl. Bahaha


Brave girl sitting on the other side of the couch.

See? Such a good little passenger!


Hi Cousin Hank!

"Mommm, enough pictures already."

Gosh we love her!

Oh, and when a stuffie isn't around to use as a pillow, she'll make due with a metal lamp base.

The rescue group that we got Olive from had a reunion, and would you believe that Olive's daughter was there? It's hard to imagine, but this is them seeing each other for the first time in about a year. Bailey is bigger, and clearly blonder, but that's Olive's baby none the less!

At that same reunion, there was a sweet lady who literally started crying when she realized who Olive was. Initially, she didn't recognize her since she was behaving so confidently! That completely made my day. Heck, it made my week!


It's true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here we have Cousin Hank, totally relaxed and rolling around hardly paying attention, and we have Olive, slightly paralyzed and not knowing where to look to avoid me. Ha!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if this is how much I love my dog, it's pretty hard to imagine how much I'd love a little human! Disclaimer: no need to worry about that for a loooong time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Imitation is...

...the sincerest form of flattery, right? Today, I bring to you DIY earrings. Making my own jewelry is a fairly common theme here, between my chalcedony and pearl wedding earrings, pearl and gold wedding necklace, copycat crystal earrings, and my "magical" metal clay earrings. As usual, I had a very direct source of inspiration. In this case, a gorgeous pair of earrings from Anthropologie, which cost $218. Whaaat?! 

Since I couldn't come close to justifying spending that much money, I decided to make them myself. I headed to Nomadic Notions to get my supplies, just to find that they've permanently closed. Cue a moment of panic, because the next closest legitimate bead store was across town. Luckily, their website said that some of the employees from Nomadic Notions decided to open their own shop just a couple of blocks away, so I went there instead. The Bead Stash is still building their inventory, but they're off to a great start!

My supplies were very similar to the original earrings, with the exception of the clear stone: 
  • 2 coin pearls
  • 14 mint beads
  • 2 gold head pins
  • 2 leverback earrings 
  • Gold (brass) wire -- 24 gauge
I too often ask for forgiveness on my picture quality... but here I am asking again. It was super dark when I made these, and I only usually only had one hand to snap pictures since I was holding the earring with my other hand. You don't mind too much, right?

First, I put the pearl on the head pin and bent the top over to make a loop (which would later be hooked onto the earring). Next, I took my wire and began wrapping it around the head pin above the pearl to create a starting point.

Then, I made my first and smallest loop (slightly larger than the pearl), and then wrapped the wire around the top to secure it.

Please forgive my lack of documentation of the next steps... total blogging fail :( I continued to make larger and larger loops following the same steps, plus adding beads to the second smallest loop. After the loops were added, I wrapped the wire around the tops of the loops and pearl. Ta da!

Repeat, and voila.

I made these for a couple ladies in my family and changed the size according to their preferences. The pair above were for John's grandmother, who typically wears small-ish earrings. The pair below are ones I made for myself, which are a good bit larger. To make them bigger, I spaced the loops farther apart, but you could also add additional loops if you wanted.


The best part? They were significantly less than the $218 Anthro was charging. In fact, you could consider them 95% off, and way more special!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Three New Johns (not my husband)

You know what are gross? Toilets. They just are. After living with the same toilets that were here when we bought our condo over two years ago, I finally gave in and decided they needed to be replaced. Let's back up a little, and I promise to keep the grossness to a minimum.

The day we got the keys to our house, the previous owner had a professional cleaning done. Unfortunately, neither that cleaning nor countless cleanings of my own ever made the toilets seem truly clean. They always had a funk to them. We tried replacing the wax ring to see if the issue was that there wasn't a proper seal, but that didn't do the trick either. So here we are, two years later, finally doing something about this problem. Don't judge me though--those babies were cleaned to the very best of my ability every single week.

I think the issue was that the little holes that allow water to come out and fill the bowl were in a tiny little crevice that I couldn't get to when I cleaned them. So, there was a portion of the toilet (and a pretty important portion at that) that never once got cleaned. Our condos were built in '99, so you can do the math. ick.

My number one criteria when choosing a new toilet was to make sure that every square inch of the exterior was actually reachable so I wouldn't have the same issue again. I ended up choosing a Penguin toilet from Lowe's based on its amazing reviews. Who thought toilets would have raving reviews?! What really sold me on this particular brand and model is that it has overflow protection which seemed like a nice bonus. The toilet has three holes near the top of the bowl that drain water should it rise to that level.

I actually bought one back in June for our master bathroom to make sure it was a good egg. When we were sure it was as amazing as the reviews made it sound, I bought two more in August. I never thought the day would come when I'd rave about a stupid toilet, but here I am. I love these dang toilets. So, shall we get started? No part of this process is hard, but you certainly need someone strong around to do the heavy lifting (read: my dad). That, and a lot of trash bags.

Toilets are gross. We've covered that already. To make sure the toilets didn't grossify my clean carpet, I taped trash bags to the floor all the way from the bathroom to the stairs. I would have done the stairs, too, if I hadn't been worried about slipping down them while carrying a 50lb piece of porcelain.

Step one was to turn off the water. In this particular bathroom (our guest bathroom), the shutoff valve behind the toilet was old and my dad said not to trust it, so I turned off the water to the whole house. When we did the half bathroom downstairs, we just turned it off at the wall because the valve was newer.

Please forgive the blurry pictures. It's not easy to simultaneously snap pictures of all of this nasty stuff while keeping your camera clean. After the water is off, we flushed the toilet which forced most of the water out of the tank and into the bowl. Some was left in the tank, so we took a sponge and some gloves (that I later threw away, of course) and sopped it all up. The tank is actually quite clean since all that's ever going in there is fresh water. There was some rust, but it's not as bad as the bowl. 

After all the water was out, we unscrewed the tank from the base and removed it. It went straight into a trash bag so it wouldn't drip as we walked it downstairs, so really the bags I taped to the floor were just backup.

Next we cut through the caulk that was sealing the base to the floor.  First we used an exacto knife and then hit it with a putty knife.

Before you look at the next picture, here's a happy disclaimer: it's not as gross as it looks. Yes, toilets are mega gross, but all the stuff you see is just wax from the wax ring, rust, and caulk, which are not gross. I'll show you a what a new wax ring looks like momentarily.

After scraping up the caulk and removing all the wax, this is what we were left with. Not so bad, right?

The next step was to get the new wax ring ready. I bought an extra-thick one because the reviewers on suggested it.

My dad carried the new toilet up and we flipped it over to place the ring.

We just centered it over the hole and give it a little squish. The wax is quite firm (almost as hard as a candle), so it didn't move much when we pressed on it.

I forgot to take pictures of the bolts, but they have a sort of ovular head that will sit inside the metal plate that's on the ground.

The orientation of the heads is important so they don't come out of the plate, so I marked on the bottom of the bolt (which really is the top once they're installed) with a sharpie to show me which way the head pointed. You can barley see my little marks on the bolt below. The little piece of plastic helped the bolt stay standing up while we lowered the base on top.

After we got the base lined up and the bolts through the holes, we screwed the nuts on and then pressed the toilet into place to seat it.

You want to make them pretty tight so it doesn't move, but not too tight or you'll crack the porcelain which would be, well, catastrophic.

I completely failed to get a picture of us re-installing the hose that connects the toilet to the wall, but you'll want to find one that's the proper size for your shut off valve and for your new toilet. We put some plumbing tape on the shut off valve before screwing the hose on to get the best seal possible.

Et voila! You'll notice that there's some toilet paper on the ground behind the toilet--that's so I'd be able to tell if there was a leak. Luckily, we were leak-free on all three and I've since removed the TP. After this, all that was left to do was to caulk the base to the floor which took about 2 minutes.

Wasn't that riveting?! Installing them ourselves took a little less than 2 hours per toilet and saved us $400-500 in labor, so I think it was well worth it. Plus, I don't think I'd trust anyone else to tackle it in such a sanitary way. Best of all, the new toilets are a breeze to clean. No tiny crevices.

So what do you think? Are you now inspired to replace one of the grosses parts of your home? I highly suggest it.