Doggy vacation

The ending of 2014 and start of 2015 have been both amazing and bittersweet for the husBen and I. One thing that sticks out the most is Curie’s diagnosis of cancer. Curie and Voltaire, our two mini schnauzers, have been with us since June and September 2010. They’ve pretty much been the love and fluff of our lives, opening our unexperienced eyes to all sorts of adventures and “Oh god, is this what it’s like to have kids?!” kind of moments.

We noticed a change in Curie’s movement and energy back in November. Just to preface, she is without a doubt the most spunky and OUTSPOKEN dog I’ve ever met with an appetite that rivals my own. With this grandma policing the grounds, not a single rice kernel or Dorito chip gets dropped unnoticed. Curie’s nose always appears out of nowhere only to touch the spot and…just like a Dyson…it’s gone. Sometimes even her bowl of kibbles is not enough. Voltaire, our more submissive boy, is always happy to move aside and let his sister finish his bowl (a lot like how I jab my fork at Ben’s bowl of panang curry while he’s still eating…) Anyways, in November we noticed she was eating less and less. Her movements were getting slower and, in December, there was a scary fluctuation in her body where one second she seemed find and then all of a sudden she would be hobbling in pain, practically immobile. Her entire belly was large and tender and we could no longer touch it or pick her up without her yelping.

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We went to the vet many, MANY times. Once or twice a week. The first blood work came back to confirm she had pancreatitis (very common amongst schnauzers). So every time she was struck down with pain, we assumed it was that and switched her to a low-fat prescription diet. But the belly aches always returned, leaving even her gums and tongue so pale (nearly white) which the doctors said was a sign of dehydration and possibly a leakage of blood somewhere internally. In January, we finally took an Xray as well as an ultrasound. The Xray showed that her lungs were free of cancer cells which was a huge relief (because by the time those reach the lungs, it’s usually too late) but her ultrasound showed huge masses in her spleen that somehow went unnoticed in previous vet visits (probably because when it did get large she would do something like jump on a couch too quickly and tear the mass, causing it to bleed and disappear for a short time only to return).

Curie went into surgery immediately and had a splenectomy after they found three masses. After the biopsy, we were told that it was indeed cancer. The really bad kind. Frankly we were shocked and I couldn’t hold back the tears while the surgeon explained what would happen. Canine hemangiosarcoma is a tumor that lines the blood vessels (essentially a tumor of the blood) which makes it extremely tricky and destructive because it travels quickly and usually hits the lungs, liver, heart or brain first. 1 out of 5 Golden Retrievers will battle this during their lifetime, and “1.5 to 2.5 million out of 72 million dogs will get hemangiosarcoma and succumb to it”. The cancer cells in our baby Curie were going to spread in the next 3-4 months and she would pass a few weeks after that. That was the hard fact and I panicked inside because we were almost out of time. 3 or 4 months? That’s it. That would give us until April or May. June if we were lucky. Curie might see us in our silly costumes for Emerald City Comicon and excitedly bark at all the episodes of Game of Thrones season 5 (she loves watching those horses run on screen) but there’s no guarantee. She most likely won’t make it to her 13th birthday in June (we adopted her on June 4th, 2010) and we’ll have to feed her a delicious box of canine cookies early.

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(Did someone say TREAT?!!)

 

But even with the grave news, there were so many things to be grateful for after the surgery. For one, Curie was no longer in excruciating pain like she was back in December. It was a night and day difference and it made the surgery worth every penny. After a week of bed rest, she was relinquished from the cone of shame, bouncing around and barking like her usual self. She was munching down on her food like the little piggy that I know, though her belly was tremendously smaller than it was before since there was no longer a spleen or three tumors. But the most heart warming thing was what our amazing friend, Erin, did on Curie’s behalf. After I told my friends and co-workers what had happened and about the financial expense of the surgery, Erin took it upon herself to set up a Tilt account. Basically it’s a campaign site where you set up a page that describes a goal you want to reach, and then you start collecting donations from family, friends and even strangers who wish to contribute. You set a minimum “tilt” goal (so no one’s credit card is charged until you hit that number) and you continue raising money towards the goal after you tilt. When Ben and I found out what Erin had done, we were just overcome with gratification and what can only be compared to as the best heartburn. Wow. Just WOW!!!! Our amazing friends (even my boss!) had pitched in on behalf of our baby girl and raised a whopping $1,779!!! Holy schnauzer!!! I can only cry (some more) and thank each and every person who sent us their love. We were overwhelmed, truly.

 

With a few precious months left, we decided in early February that we’d go on as many adventures as possible and at least one memorable trip (which we did just this past weekend!) With our dear friends Kelsi, Ryan and their puppy Bourbon, we drove down to Oregon and rented a cute little house only a walk away from Cannon Beach. It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever set eyes on (that line kind of upsets me because it’s definitely an understatement…everyone says that psh). William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition once described this beach as “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…” back in 1806 (meh, basically what I just said). I’ve never seen the sky and giant rocks reflected in wet sand the way it is on the Oregon coast. Everything shines, and if you span the beach with your eyes, your left and right look misty and blue but the sunset in front of you is ablazed in pink and gold which makes the blue seem misplaced but hauntingly alluring. It’s what I imagine the coasts of England to look like.

 

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Those few days we spent frolicking in the sand, barking at other dogs, playing board games and just soaking in all the wonders around us.

 

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It was the most perfect trip and I think Curie had a blast :)

 

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well well, look who we’ve got here. The month of October. Your siblings August and September somehow squeezed past us and now we’ve got pumpkins lining the entrance of Safeway and thrift shops selling costumes that I really could’ve used two years ago (Doctor Who Weeping Angel Mask…COUGH). But before we can even celebrate Halloween or even Thanksgiving, I’m gonna jump ahead here and throw my arms up for…

THE HOLIDAYS!

Why so soon? Well, I entered this Holiday card contest at PS Print but the truth is that I can only win this round with your support! The semi-finalist voting goes from 10/1 – 10/15 and this portion is totally determined by public voting. I would so appreciate it if you voted for my design here under the “Design” category. The card is titled “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and it looks like this:

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Everyone is allowed to vote for one design once every 24 hours until 10/15. That’s a whole two weeks from now, holy moly! They do ask for your email address but I think it’s because they have to keep track of who is voting per day to keep it fair. I would like to thank you all in advance and regardless of who wins, I had so much fun designing this card. I could do this all day!!! Stay tuned to see how this pans out ;)

EDIT: So I waited a REALLY long time to post this cause it’s March 2 now and I wrote this blog post in October (I’m the worst). But uh….I won in the “Best Design” category!!! There were 12 winners total and you can view them here – congrats to them all! Thank you to the panel of judges at PS Print and for all of my friends and family for the amazing support! It was nice NOT having to buy holiday cards for once, that’s for sure!

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Motivational Monday: Tiny Houses

It’s been a looong time since my last MM entry. But guess what! I saw this documentary on Netflix (of course) and it peaked my interest. Have you ever heard of the Tiny House Movement? I’m usually 1-2 years behind so you probably have ;p  It’s basically what it sounds like – people decide to live in homes that are less than 1,000 square feet for ecological, economical, financial, and/or social reasons. Just to give you an idea of how small that is, the average U.S. house was 2,400-2,500 square feet back in 2007 (and a tiny house can be as small as 80 square feet!)

 

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Even if you’re the type of person that can’t see yourself living in a hobbit-sized space, you have to admit…the aesthetics are pretty cool. There’s just something about untraditionally small or large things (i.e. giant buttons, teacup poodles, doll-size furniture, giant watermelons, etc.) Some tiny homes are mobile and on wheels. Some are built in trees. Some look like modern glass bubbles while others are made out of recycled crates. If you don’t have the time to build one from scratch, you can even buy ready-made ones at places like Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

 

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(Above: 200 sq. ft. cottage on a hill, owned by writer Zinta Aistars in South-West Michigan)

 

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(Above: Tiny houses in Washington, D.C. Photo by boneyardstudios.com)

 

The tiny house owners in the documentary Tiny: A Story About Living Small are pretty phenomenal to me in that they’ve taken a step back and really evaluated their lives. And to do that, you have to ask yourself some hard questions. Why is it a big deal to own a medium to incredibly large home in our country? What do you want out of life? What are your priorities? A lot of those people realized that they could spend 23-30K on a tiny home and have their mortgage completely paid off so they could live debt-free and have the freedom to do (what they believe) are more worthwhile things in life (i.e. travel, creative and humanitarian endeavors, etc.) rather than work at a job that you may not even like just to pay off material things that you can’t afford (your house being one of them).

 

 

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(Above: 130 sq. ft. tiny house in Stratford, Ontario. For sale! Click on photo to learn more.)

 

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(Above: Tiny honeysuckle house in Santa Cruz, California. Photo by AJ Jones.)

 

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(Above: Original source tinyhouses.net)

 

 

Now that’s not to say that living in a tiny house (or even a small house) is for everyone. It definitely is NOT. To be honest, this living situation is ideal for the single individual who doesn’t have kids or a large pet. It works for couples but adding one more person to the mix definitely changes (often even complicates) the situation both spacially and stylistically. My husband and I talked about this a lot since we saw the movie and agreed that we couldn’t do it – not in a house that’s under 1,000 sq. ft. with plans of having children. But it was fun playing around with the idea and asking ourselves “just how small COULD we go within reason”? 

 

 

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(Above: New Orleans “shot gun” style homes. Photographer unknown.)

 

Free Share Houses

(Above: FreeShare rolling bungalow & beekeeper’s bungalow in Point Roberts, WA. Photo by Tatsuya Sato.)

 

 

To get an idea of what the interior of a tiny house looks like, see below. This is a 196 sq. ft. tiny house built by Macy Miller of minimotives.com (photos by Minimotives). It’s a beauty!

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But I can’t help but admire those who choose to adopt this modest lifestyle in an effort to emphasize the bazillion other things in life. The size of tiny houses alone forces you to buy less, cut back on spendings and be innovative about space (i.e. building storage nooks and crannies under places like staircases). Most importantly I think the message of the movie was NOT that you have to live in a tiny house to be a good person but to start thinking about space in a different way and to prioritize our lives in a way that makes us happy, not just momentarily but for the long run :)

 

 

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Lovely lumps.

A facebook friend posted this video and it’s quite brilliant. Check it.

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It’s funny but sad that this is a thing. Our expectations of physical attraction translate to stupidly basic stuff like carrots and potatoes. And I must confess – I have been guilty of this many times. I often catch myself in the produce section picking up an apple and and putting it down because:

 

1) I learned as a child that (for some reason) that’s what adults do. They pick up fruits and put them down before deciding which ones are worthy to eat. Why? I haven’t got a clue. Because taking a watermelon and rolling it down the floor to test it proves that…the floor is uneven? A peach with flawless skin contains…50% more vitamin C? (I can just hear Arnold’s voice saying “I like to pick it up and put it down”).

2) It is an absolute FACT that a fruit or veggie’s deliciousness and nutritious healing powers can ONLY be derived from the perfection of its skin, lack of bumps & bruises, and stereotypical figure. Said no one ever.

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(Photos by artist Uli Westphal)
Besides, have you ever seen a fruit or veggie that was SO perfect it gave you shivers? Well it should. It can’t be trusted. Just a couple months back, I was buying bags of carrots to feed ponies and realized that the organic carrots were half the size and width of non-organic carrots. It made me think “Whoa, Mr. Carrot on the left, why ARE you so abnormally large, orange and perfect? What have they done to you, hmm?” Before I realized they had been genetically poked and prodded with chemicals and early forms of cancer. Better take the carrots on the right.

Also deep down inside, you LOVE to root for the under dog. The ugly, twisted and tangled radish that cries “Pick me! Just give me a chance. I won’t let you down” or the double headed strawberry that whispers in a soft voice “I may be lumpy on the outside but I’m twice as sweet on the inside!”

I just wish the project in the video was available in grocery stores across the nation. Cause those ugly fruits sure are kind to your wallet :)

Hair evolution.

So over the past few months, my hair has been going through some…changes. It’s like I’ve been changing the hue/saturation levels and every few weeks, the lower half of my hair is a different color. I’ve been loving it despite the fact that I had to bleach it 5x times in order for any colors to show, but after I got it down to a light blonde (platinum in some areas) that’s when I went full fledge with the hot pink, lavender and blue. Check it:

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Here’s what it looked like after the teal faded. The green eventually started to look…seaweed-ish…so that’s when I started bleaching it. Let me tell you – green was the absolute most DIFFICULT color to eliminate and I just about tried everything imaginable including Dawn dish soap. Eventually I just had to add color on top of the slight green residue. I’m still not 100% certain the green is out :)

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BLONDE

Here’s what it looked after the many times I bleached it. The hardest part was trying to maintain the “ombre” effect that Rudy’s Barber Shop gave me the very first time I dyed my hair purple. The more I bleached the lower half, the more the middle section lost its ombre-effect. I must say, the ladies at Sally’s Beauty Supply were VERY helpful when I asked what materials to use if I was bleaching my hair at home by myself. To bleach my very dark Asian hair, I mixed the following chemicals into a plastic mixing bowl:

– Clairol Professional 7th Stage Creme Hair Lightener (2 fluid oz)

– Clairol Professional 7th Stage Lightening Activators (3 packets, each one is 0.5 oz)

– 20 or 30 Volume Clear Developer (4 fluid oz)

I applied this mixture to the lower half of my hair within the span of 1.5 months (anywhere from 30-180 minutes at a time…the bottle warns you NOT to leave it for over 60 minutes depending on your hair type). Everyone’s hair texture and strength is different so if you do this, you MUST check your hair frequently in the mirror to make sure you don’t overdo it. Also if your hair is naturally weak, don’t do what I did and bleach it 5x :) I knew my hair could handle it.

If you have very dark hair and notice that it becomes yellow/orange after bleaching, try toning it (to eliminate the warm tones and add cool tones for a silvery effect) with something like Wella Color Charm 10A (Frosty Ash).

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Pink/Neapolitan

To be honest, my goal was to go full on Targaryen and wreak white-silver havoc on my hair. But alas, that proved too hard because I would’ve had to bleach/tone my hair a 2+ more times (nahhhhh). So I added hot pink to the back instead. I looked like a Neapolitan ice cream! The trio-combo looked cool in a fishtail braid.

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LAVENDER

Alas, the pink faded and I knew what color I wanted to try next. My favorite color (and also the loveliest scent in the world)…LAVENDER! This was my favorite one so far.

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OCEAN BLUE

Here is the most current color which I did just last week. For some reason, electric/ocean blue seems like the most rebellious color out there. Not sure why. Guess it’s the farthest departure from any of the natural hair colors! As to what color I’ll try next, who knows. I might just dye it back to black, lop it all off, or do a mixture. Still got some tubes of teal, fuschia and blue in my drawer ;)

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Running in Color

We tried this last year and had SO much fun that Ben and I paid $50 each to do it again this year. It’s called the Color Run and it’s AWESOME. Why? Because you run through the streets of Seattle and literally get color thrown on you. It’s known as the most happy 5K in all of America and we have the unicorn mascot to prove it.

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But on an honest note, last year was just a smidge more exciting because they threw powdered color on us as we ran through each check point which was waaaay more vibrant than liquid color. The liquid this year was…a lot like watered down Gatorade. Mixed with more water. But we were rewarded with powder at the end of the 5K so twas not a disappointment. There aren’t really words to describe the amount of color….everywhere. Clouds of color end up in your hair, ears, mouth, eyes and eventually your insides. At the end of it all, we were spitting color, crying color and had colorful boogers. It was glorious.

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Beauty Without Bunnies

So here’s an issue that I wanted to share with anyone who might not be aware. As most of you know, I’m a (somewhat passive but still passionate) advocate of animal rights. I love bunnies, chipmunks, cows, goats, whales, dolphins and even snakes with a fervor (who doesn’t like fluffy things…even WITH allergies?) and have watched a fair share of animal documentaries to keep myself educated about issues and current events. I became a vegetarian on December 31, 2011 after watching the eye-opening documentary Earthlings and have tried to be more consistent with my lifestyle and moral philosophies which is precisely why I’m so disappointed in myself for figuring this out so late.

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I’ve been a fan of M.A.C. and Estee Lauder cosmetics for MANY years now, since late high school. Before I even knew how to properly apply eyeliner (shudder). Until recently, I didn’t do any research regarding these companies and their roles in animal testing because…I just simply didn’t THINK about it. I was ignorant. Makeup is still tested on moving things – wha? Isn’t there like…alternative testing that scientists can do on artificial skin and stuff? (Answer: yes that’s the sad part) I was busy being a vegetarian and helping animals that way and I rather liked the way M.A.C.’s Studio Fix foundation felt like silk on my skin…how vibrant their eye shadows looked…how Estee Lauder’s midnight blue eye pencil made me feel like an Egyptian queen. Twas all PERFECT for Halloween! Ironic and sad because the whole time I was still contributing to a problem that I adamantly opposed in a form I just didn’t think about.

As most of you know, M.A.C. was bought out by Estee Lauder in 1998. A lot of people weren’t happy about that because E.L. has a reputation for openly testing on animals and M.A.C. (though they claimed to still be cruelty free) did not deny that they still tested on animals when required by law (according to Logical Harmony’s testament/blog post which recounts her email reply back from M.A.C.) That simply means that even though they claim to be cruelty-free (which any company can claim just like food companies with the word “organic”) they can still buy their ingredients from not-so-cruel-free sources or still sell to countries like China which do require testing. Of course there’s no absolute way to verify who here is providing 100% truth, but the fact that M.A.C. is even affiliated with E.L. leads me to believe that there is a chance that they test on animals. This I can not support. I’ve therefore ceased buying all M.A.C. and Estee Lauder products indefinitely. It’s time to find something else!

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I know not everyone shares my views and enthusiasm for animal rights which is okay. We all have different priorities, concerns and life passions. But I hope that as much as possible, the public becomes something that is comprised of educated, compassionate shoppers (since we are a country eager to consume) and we never hesitate to ask questions or be skeptical about issues, claims, etc. Know what you’re buying and what you may (even unknowingly) be supporting/contributing to. Spread the word about stuff. Don’t be afraid to talk about things (fear of discussion is the killer of progression!)

 

* No bunnies were harmed in the making of this blog post :)

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