November 28, 2014

It's been wonderful here for the past few days.

Did you celebrate Thanksgiving yesterday? 
If so, did you have a wonderful time? 
Ours was low key and great all around.

We had a small dinner with just the right amount of leftovers. 
We watched The Sound of Music, as is our tradition each year.
Yangkyu remembered one of the Von Trapp children's name {Kurt} and he sang "The hills are alive" with me when the movie started playing.
Now that's progress. 

That 1000 puzzle piece? 
Still not finished. 
And while we were in the midst of finding Dorothy's face and Bruce Lee's scars, Piri laid on top of the whole thing and declared it his.
I think it's a cocker thing. 

Our Dogvacay guest Murray has been such a sweetheart. 
I love having two senior dogs with me. 
They are gentle, yet still playful, but overall just so calm and loving. 
He's been getting a whole lot of belly rubs. 

Piri and Murray have been getting along so well. 
The first night when Murray was with us it was snowing and Murray was a little wary of our deck and backyard. 
Despite the fact that Piri does not like snow, he ran in and out the house as if to show Murray that it was ok to go outside, showing him how it was done.
It was the cutest thing. 
I don't know where Piri found the energy to run and prance around all over the snow. 
But it was so good to see him that way.

I've been crocheting little Christmas trees and getting our home ready for decorations. 
That giant list of things I need to get done before the holidays roll around in full force is made.
I'm feeling pretty good. 

We usually pick up our tree right after Thanksgiving, but since we have a guest this year who is staying until late Sunday night, we'll be heading out next weekend. 
I can't wait.
It's one of my favorite things to do during the holidays - picking out and trimming the tree. 

Things have been really wonderful here for the past few days. 
I hope you feel a similar kind of wonderful wherever you are. 

Happy weekend. 

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving.

This picture was taken yesterday while it was lightly snowing outside and we were patiently waiting for our Thanksgiving Dogvacay guest to arrive. His name is Murray, a 13 year old mix. He is super camera shy and so I haven't been taking too many pictures of him {but I did manage to get a few ninja-style stealth photos today}. 

This morning we watched the tail end of the Thanksgiving Day parade and also a couple of movies. Yangkyu is currently over at his aunt's house for a couple of hours and I'm spending a slow afternoon with the doggies before we start making our mashed potatoes and stuffing for our Thanksgiving dinner tonight. Then it'll be continuing our tradition of watching The Sound of Music and having another go at this 1000 piece puzzle we always take out on Thanksgiving but never finish. 

Today I'm thankful for many things, but I'm especially thankful for moments like the one in the picture above. And I'm thankful that I get to do things in life that I enjoy. I'm thankful I have loved ones I get to spend the holidays with. Thanksgiving also reminds me of how privileged I am and how I have access to so many things, which I take for granted on a daily basis. And with this awareness I let myself know once again I have responsibilities with this enormous privilege I have at my hands and reflect on how I can be a better citizen in this global world we live in. 

If you are celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you too are spending it with the ones you love, someplace warm with laughter and good food. I also send my thoughts to those who don't get to spend Thanksgiving with their family and friends, under the various circumstances that they are in, including our animal friends. 

November 26, 2014

5 things you can do to help shelter animals + tips from Instagrammers.

The holidays are around the corner and while we all make plans to get together with loved ones and enjoy some cheer, food and presents, I thought to do a quick post on how we can all lend a hand to help shelter animals. 

Yangkyu and I support rescue and advocacy groups mostly through monetary funds. We try and encourage others to do the same, but I realize that not everyone has the capacity to do so. For some, even contributing their own personal time can be tough. And it's unfortunate when people start to feel helpless in helping animals in need.

There are actually many things that people can do to help other than contributing money and time. I share my five tips at the bottom of this blog, but I also thought to ask the good folks on Instagram to share their advice on how to help a shelter animal out, not only this holiday season, but throughout the year. Here is what some folks had to say: 

*These have been edited for length purposes. You can see everyone's tips and advice in full hereThank you so much for taking the time out to write to us!  
@foxteufelswild :: I was thinking if I could offer my camera and my photo skills to a local animal shelter. 
@thegracechon :: Taking pictures of shelter dogs is a huge help. (**Grace is an amazing photographer who also donates her time and services to rescue groups in Los Angeles. She is also the creator of the Zoey & Jasper photo series that went viral earlier this year.)
@eleanorpike95 :: Not sure if you have this in the US, but most supermarkets here in the UK have a big box next to their exit or entrance for donations to local shelters. So you can buy dog food and blankets, etc. whilst doing your food shop and leave a bag in the box on your way out! Quick way to help out! 
@alibuchanan84 :: The rescue I volunteered with in Korea, besides monetary donations, we asked for old blankets and sweatshirts, photographers to get good shots of the dogs, we also did videos of the dogs so people could see their personalities. We also had some dog trainers help with very difficult dogs. People donated old leashes and harnesses of all sizes.
@vslseet :: I know transport of rescue dogs from shelters to their forever homes is a great way to help.
@freyjapup :: Social media is a big help. I work off and on at a doggy daycare that does small-time rescue and Facebook has helped get the word out about our dogs. While spending time with rescue dogs is awesome, telling other people about the dogs is even better. I would say fostering is the ultimate thing you could do for a shelter animal (other than adopting), but not everyone is able to (or should) make that commitment. 

I have already mentioned in the past, but Piri is not a rescue dog. My brother bought him at a mall in Georgia. It was before we knew any better - before we knew anything about puppy mills and what adopting a dog really meant. When Piri was entering the senior stage in his life, he came to live with me and  Yangkyu. 

While Piri is not a rescue, he has taught us a lot about the issue and throughout the process we got to know some really great rescue and advocacy organizations. Piri continues to teach us about a lot of things. This is one of the best perks in having a pet in your life. 

Adding to the great suggestions from Instagrammers, here are some of our thoughts on how you can help a shelter animal today: 

1. Find a local rescue organization near you and follow them on Facebook or any other social media platform that is comfortable for you to use. Join their email mailing list. Just by doing this you have unlocked an endless number of opportunities you can join to help shelter animals. You will be updated on emergency fund needs, dates to meet dogs at local adoption shows and shopping opportunities {jewelry, wine, chocolate, clothing} where proceeds go towards rescue efforts. And just by being connected to a rescue organization you have, at the tip of your hands, the power to help disperse information far and wide. You can share with your family, colleagues and friends AND encourage them to do the same. Yangkyu and I are connected to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Oldies but Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue and Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation

2. Collaborate. Have you ever felt like you wished you had a few hundred bucks to donate to a rescue group? I've seen many people who say they wish they can win the lottery so they can do what they always wanted to do -- help animals in need. Really. You don't need to wait until you hit the jackpot. Commit $5. Ask 2o of your friends to skip out on Starbucks for a day and help contribute $5. Boom. You just raised $100. $5 may seem really small, but when you collaborate with others that $5 becomes $10, $30, 100, $500. It's the same concept with donated goods, food and other needed supplies. Same for folks with hobbies. Are you a knitter with many knitting friends? Get together and knit some warm blankets. The possibility to collaborate for shelter animals is endless. Get creative and stay committed. //Don't have anyone to collaborate with? Skip that Starbucks coffee anyway and donate your $5. It will go a long way for the animal in need. Never think that your donation amount is too small and won't have any impact. 

3. Check your company policy. Some companies have really amazing matching fund programs for their employees. Either they will match the dollar donation (some even matching at 100%) you make to an organization or they will make a monetary donation for every hour you volunteer with a organization of your choice (time is usually capped). Please make sure the organization you wish to do a matching program with is a registered 501 c3, non-profit. If not, the matching program won't apply.  

4. Sign up for action alerts. Many organizations are leading the charge to change laws on the local, state and federal levels so that animals are protected and policies are adopted so that the number of animals that end up in shelters decrease, and that no-kill shelters are implemented across the country. There are online petition drive alerts to encourage people to send letters to elected officials. There are sample letters provided and the process is super easy. And of course, there is always that last step, which is to share and encourage five of your friends and family to take action as well. Yangkyu and I are signed up to receive alerts with Best Friends Animal Society and the ASPCA and also take action through The Humane Society of the United States Facebook page.

5. Commit to doing. This doesn't have to be a Herculean effort. Fostering and adopting are great and amazing ways to help a shelter animal out, but  not every can {or should} do it. That doesn't mean that there is nothing else you can do. When you see an animal in need, commit to doing something. Share the picture, donate, email/forward to your friends, give up your birthday presents and ask friends to donate instead, replace wedding and party favors with donations to a local rescue group, take 2 minutes and sign that online petition. The most important thing we all do is committing to doing something instead of feeling sad. Any act, when it is done in mass, in collaboration, has a profound impact, especially for those animals waiting for their happy endings. 

What have I missed? Please share your best tips and advice!

November 25, 2014

Crocheted lately.

// Fingerless mitt {for the left hand only. I ran out of yarn. oops.}
 // Tiny Christmas tree. {pattern here
 // Some more sunburst granny squares. 
 // A basket.

What are you crocheting {or dreaming of crocheting} lately? 

November 24, 2014

We fell in love with our weird blue wall + other weekend things.

Over the weekend, we made too many plans and got in over our heads. 
We were indecisive and spent way too many hours at Home Depot mulling over pieces of wood. 

We remembered our mothers and made mandu from scratch. 
Then realized making the skin, too, from scratch was just a bad idea. 

We also made jangjorim, artichoke dip and guacamole. 
Our kitchen was a happy place to be in. 

We sanded, painted & stained. 
The wood we turned into shelves had little imperfections that made them perfect. 
Our neglected frames of pictures and art prints finally found a new home. 
And we fell in love with our weird blue wall. 

Little knit pieces had their ends weaved in and found themselves inside little packages ready to be mailed. 

The weekend was a crazy one. 
But we need a little crazy from time to time. 

I hope your weekends were a little crazy, too. Crazy and comforting. 

November 21, 2014

Have a good weekend + links.

I got these in the mail earlier this week and just yesterday I began to knit a scarf for a little boy who is turning two in a few months. I'm also learning a new pattern and hopefully I'll be able to knit up a hat with little ear flaps for a little one year old girl. Both are presents for friends' little ones.

This weekend I'm probably setting us up for a crazy busy weekend, but there are a few projects I hope to get out of the way -- I want to at least get plans written down to build a few things like our floating shelves and also a wood backdrop I hope to have for my photography adventures. I also want to put up a couple gallery walls, get started on crocheting a few ornaments and make mandoo. I have been craving this stuff to no end and instead of buying the frozen bag that can be a little expensive, I told Yangkyu I think we should make some. So it's looking like a busy weekend of making and cooking. 

What do you all have planned? 
Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Some links to get you started -- 

 // I just loved this story. It got me all crying too. A dog's loyalty is truly immeasurable. 

 // New eyewear crush. 

 // Wreath ideas for the holidays. 

 // Because we need to keep track of all these holidays!

 // Homemade gifts to bring out the crafty side of all of us. 

 // Be brave

 // Thanksgiving recipes across the United States {Virginia is corn pudding. What is your state?}

 // A 1950 Chevy inside Old Navy in San Francisco gets yarnbombed

 // Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" syncs perfectly with this 80s aerobics video

Some months are harder than others...

Earlier this week I had a hard time emotionally when I found out again that I wasn't pregnant. Then for the next couple of days I walked around the house like a zombie. I had no energy or motivation to do anything and felt so hopeless. 

Some months I'm perfectly fine. Other months I feel like I'm in a bottomless pit. 

I go through the same ritual. It almost feels like I'm killing half of my heart -- I tell it to stop having hope or have any sort of expectations. It's easier to handle negative news this way. 

But this month my heart went there again. It had hope. It had expectation. It had an inkling; a positive "feeling". But it was wrong. And I felt so dumb for having hope. 

Perhaps because it's almost the end of the year and my birthday is right around the corner... Maybe that is why I'm feeling more desperate because another year is ending and we're still trying. 

I recently shared on Facebook to my friends and acquaintances about my journey with infertility and also the act of giving advice. One of the hardest things for me in talking about infertility with friends was the unsolicited advice they gave. We as humans are wired to give advice - to bestow knowledge on to others because we don't think they already know. I gave passes in the beginning because I knew everyone was coming from a good place {even though hearing "you'll get pregnant if you stop thinking about it" about 20 times drove me insane and "you can always adopt" always seemed insensitive and didn't really address the heartache of infertility}. But then I realized something. I never asked for their advice. I was opening up, being vulnerable and sharing my pain and experience, and all I was asking was for that person to listen. I didn't want to give passes anymore and so I stopped talking about it to friends and instead turned to my blog.  

A lot of folks think they are great listeners. I think listening is such a hard thing to do. I don't think many people know how to do it. 

This whole experience has also made me realize how much I must have overstepped boundaries as well because this act of giving advice vs. listening doesn't just pertain to women and couples going through infertility. It really goes toward all struggles people go through, most of the time, silently and quietly. 

When I get messages or emails from other women going through infertility, or when I read stories online, I sometimes weep. Harder than other times. It's because I feel like they are taking the words right out of my mouth. I feel like my feelings are validated. I feel like what I'm going through is legit. I'm not the only one who feels a little overwhelmed but also feels bad at not wanting to look at every single picture of friends' babies being sent to me and hear about their first milestones. This has been the hardest to grapple with -- wanting to be happy for friends but feeling miserable at the same time and then wondering deep down if I'm just a rotten person. 

Just yesterday I began to get back to my usual routine. Yangkyu and I held hands and smiled and said to each other, "we're try again next month, ok?" I picked up my knitting needles and began a couple of projects for little toddlers. I began to look at pictures again. I began to be happy again. 

PS -- 25 things to say (and not to say) to someone living with infertility. 

November 20, 2014

Letters to Piri // 04

Dear Piri, 

 // I went on and on and on about why I love you and this senior stage of your life to help raise awareness during this month, which is Adopt a Senior Pet month, but I never asked you.. what do you like most about being a senior? 

 // Some days I just don't want to do anything. No energy, no motivation. Yesterday was one of those days and I absentmindedly fell asleep on your spot on the couch and didn't bother ironing Yangkyu's shirts. Did you mean to help me? I woke up to find that you had scratched your way on top of those clean shirts. Maybe you were trying to iron them for me. I know you want Yangkyu to know what a good boy you are for doing that, but maybe we'll just keep this one between us. 

 // It feels like just yesterday when we went about our days eating what we wanted and being playful and energetic. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that you were sick with kidney disease. Sorry that we caught it so late. Sorry that you had such a rough time with all those medications. Sorry that your food tastes so bland now. Sorry that your entire schedule seems like it's turned upside down. Nothing works like clockwork now. It must've felt a little overwhelming. I hope you still feel a small bit of comfort knowing that we still love you to no end.. and that we can still share apples, too. Not as much as we used to, but we still can. 

 // I still feel guilty you know. Sometimes I can't be vocal. Sometimes I can't just say what I want to say because I feel like I'll hurt people's feelings. I wish I did though because I end up feeling bad because I feel like I didn't stick up for you. I wish I was a bit tougher, questioned more and set my foot down harder at the first feeling I had in my gut when I knew something wasn't quite right with the medications you were on. I know I said it before, but I'm so sorry Piri. I'm so sorry for putting you through that. 

 // Piri, it's right around the corner! The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner! But we can start watching those cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies now. Remember the ones we watched last year? What was it called? Oh I forget. But they were so bad. 

 // Yes. You're wearing your Christmas jammies again this year. 

 // Yes. I'm taking a picture and posting on Instagram. 

 // You know, sometimes when you sleep, you wiggle your nose quite excitedly. Are you dreaming of eating something good? Is it like you're sniffing it, ready to take a big bite and then you wake up? I had those kind of dreams too. So cruel. At least let us have one small bite before waking up, right? 

 // Sometimes I wish it was just you and me and Yangkyu. And a bunch of other dogs and farm animals. On a farm somewhere near the mountains of Vermont. We can go collect eggs together and huddle around the fire to keep warm. We can grow our own produce, get some milk from our cow and goat friends and make our own adventures with the animals and people we like. Wouldn't that be nice? Sometimes I just want to be away from everything I know now and start new. 

 // Okay, you can be in charge of collecting the eggs. As long as you don't bother the chickens. That wasn't really my point of the story but ok. You love chickens. I get it. 

 // I found an amigurumi cocker spaniel pattern. The little doll looks exactly like you. I'm still learning how to read patterns but I'm going to crochet it. You just wait and see. And I might put it on your head. I hope you don't mind. Thanks for always being such a good sport about it. 

 // Is it selfish of me to want everything? My biggest fear is not being able to start a family with you. Yangkyu always scolds me and tells me to take it day by day.. but you know, sometimes I feel so desperate like I don't have enough time. Or that we don't have enough time. But i know.. while I worry about all this, the only thing that is happening is losing time. 

 // Thanks for giving me a pass though during my times of desperation. That's why I like that you and Yangkyu are always in my corner. 

 // They said that if we fold 1000 cranes, we'll be granted one wish. I'm gonna fold 1000 cranes. And we're going to get that wish. 

 // What are you going to wish for, Piri? 

The human girl who loves you to infinity and beyond. 

Read other Letters to Piri here

November 19, 2014

What is the one dish you must have on your Thanksgiving table?

Thanksgiving is next week and usually about a week and a half leading up to it, Yangkyu and I swap recipes, new and old, to make - everything from the turkey, side dishes, drinks, rolls and pies. But this year we decided to spend a low key Thanksgiving. We have a Dogvacay guest staying with us and going through the large amounts of leftovers between the two of us gets pretty tiring usually at the second and third day after. So this year we decided to cook only one of our favorite side dishes each and pick up the rest, portioned out for two people, at the grocery store.

For me, I can't do without creamy fluffy chives and garlic mashed potatoes and gravy. For Yangkyu {while he loves mashed potatoes, too} it's the stuffing with sausages apples. As for pies, I think we'll  pick up a slice each of pumpkin pie and coconut pie and also cheesecake too just for heck of it. 

What is the one dish you can't do without on Thanksgiving? 

PS -- How to have a sustainable Thanksgiving holiday

PPS -- These hamsters are having the most adorable sit down feast.

PPPS -- Don't forget about shelter animals this holiday season. 

Infographic via The Splendid Table. 

November 18, 2014

November wishing.

01 // 02 {cat lover version here} // 03 // 04 // 05 // 06 // 07

Some things I'm dreaming and wishing for the month of November -- it includes knitwears, jumbo knitting needles, some nice boots, relaxing candles and soap, a book to inspire the sewing side of me and a doggy tote to carry my knitting things, Piri's things and maybe some of Yangkyu's things, too. All these items would be perfect. 

What are some things your wish list this month? 

November 17, 2014

Picking paint color is tricky + other weekend things.

Why hello! 

I know we've all taken turns saying this, but boy is time flying or what? Please someone push the slow button because I don't think I am at all ready for Thanksgiving and, my goodness, trying to schedule everything that needs to get done before Christmas is looking like one giant colossal task. 

Every weekend I try to sit down and wrap my head around everything that needs to happen before the holidays roll around in full force, but then every weekend my mind is wrapped around other things that need to get done before the weekend is over! 

This weekend my head was wrapped around a little one year old's birthday celebration and me trying to get over my fear of low light photography. I was asked by a friend to just do some casual captures of her daughter's birthday and while I loved being asked {and despite the fact that she was so sweet to not give me any pressure whatsoever}, I just get super nervous because I don't do very well with low light, yellow light and tight spaces. You know that feeling where you really want to do a good job for someone and you're afraid that it may not turn out the way you had imagined? Anyway, I usually wallow for a few hours wishing I had done a better job but straightaway after the birthday celebration my head got wrapped around some painting projects for our home {I actually ended up wallowing over the pictures for a couple of hours on Sunday. Heh. I guess it's an inevitable process with me}. 

Since rearranging our living room, our chalkboard wall was looking a little out of place and so I wanted to move it. I had it all planned out -- paint our chalkboard wall back to its original color and just paint a new wall with chalkboard paint! So easy right? Only, well into the evening I realized that the previous owners had left paint for everything except for the walls and so I had to drag everyone back to Home Depot and quickly decide what to do. A colorful statement wall seemed to be the answer and while the better part of my judgement told me to just bring home some swatches and make a decision with a clear head the next day, I was so desperate to get the walls done on Saturday night before our meet and greet with a Dogvacay client on Sunday {I don't know, sometimes my mind works in complicated and weird ways}. And so, I tried my best to recollect the color of our sofa and somehow chose a weird blue color. As soon as the Home Depot lady began to make and mix our paint, I knew I hated it. Awful, right? The color is still not sitting well with me and while we do have plans to add some white framed wall gallery and also white floating shelves, I have a feeling that wall is going to get repainted in 6 months {Yangkyu is already bracing for the moment when I randomly tell him -- let's repaint the wall!}. 

This week, I'm doing a bit more reorganizing and stealing part of Yangkyu's office to make room for my crafting and making. He actually wanted me to set up this space next to his desk since the day we moved, but I had so little supplies and I liked crafting in front of the TV. But as I was rearranging the living room yesterday, I noticed how many things I have accumulated. That always feels good, no? Kind of reaffirms that interest, which started a while ago, actually stuck and wasn't a one time thing. I like that.

Anyway, aside from reorganizing, I am hoping to get organized for the holidays -- getting our Thanksgiving menu done, decorating, ordering Christmas cards and deciding what to make to send to friends and family this year. I like to send them out early so I don't have to worry about them as it gets closer to Christmas. Fingers crossed that I will come up with some sort of timeline! Woot woot! 

Have a great week everyone!

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