August 29, 2014

Kitchen thoughts heading into the weekend.

I absolutely hate our kitchen sink. It's ceramic. Black. And really ugly. I have also broken way too many dishes and cups while washing them and we have only been in our new home for a little over a month. It's  gotten to the point where I wish we can  start renovating our kitchen starting like right now.

I don't think I'm asking for much. I'm into the whole open cupboard space instead of cabinets, white subway tile backsplash, butcher block countertops and a nice white farmhouse sink. I'm a huge fan of Nicole Curtis on HGTV and she has gotten me into the whole simple and clean look. I think the style suits me and Yangkyu pretty well. 

Once those foundations are in place I would like to make pretty white curtains for our windows and add some farmhouse and bohemian touches throughout with some colorful bowls and cups. I have this look in my head and I am wishing for it pretty hard. 

But with almost everything, both Yangkyu and I are re-learning how to be patient and planning thoughtfully so we won't feel so overwhelmed. Probably before the kitchen update we'll probably tackle more immediate things like our balcony door and screen, which doesn't really shut properly and so we haven't been enjoying having the door fully open. Then will probably come the hardwood floors. Then finally the beloved kitchen and the bathrooms, oh and the fireplace. I know this all sounds like it's going to happen in the next few months. I wish that were the case. But this all is being planned for the next ten years because that's how long we hope to stay here - making memories and working on updates. 

So while we keep dreaming of the big wonderful changes we plan on making, over the weekend we're picking up some rubber liners for the sink and some other things like a welcome home mat {!}, little trash bins and a couple of bathroom mats, too. Oh, and it'll be a nice change of pace around here for the weekend because we have some human guests coming over as soon as our doggy guest leaves. 

It's also Labor Day weekend where we are. We're playing with the idea of buying a grill on sale and having a BBQ before summer is out. 

Have a great weekend!

August 28, 2014

Building a task list and getting things done.

I have been meaning to write this post for a while but I got too caught up with how to visually present it. But I think I channeled my focus wrong and decided that words will have to do. It's a topic about being organized and getting stuff done. A super task list if you will. 

This is all from a training I attended a few years ago that went over ways in which you can plan your day so that you are actually getting stuff done and feel a sense of accomplishment. Before this training I was using all sorts of methods - Google Task list, the good old task box method on my spiral note pad, Wunderlist, you name it. But I realized that actually completing my task didn't have to do with what medium I was using, but more about what I was writing. 

I used to pile on so many things on a daily basis - drafting press releases, helping write grant reports, attending meetings after meetings {oh those conference calls!}, writing campaign proposals and implementing projects, looking over other people's work. The list was never ending and it seemed like there wasn't enough hours in a day. 

Then this. 

Try to visualize with me -- you have a large glass jar. In it you place two big rocks. You realize you can still fill it with some more things so you place a few medium size rocks. You realize that you still have some empty spaces in the jar and fill it with some pebbles and sand. The glass jar is now completely full. No empty spaces.

This is how you want to plan your day. Tasks that are just the right fit so that your day feels full and productive. 

Realistically, you'll probably only have enough time to complete two big tasks. This could be a big report you're working, a proposal, a design layout. Whatever it may be, you're only going to have time for two - maybe even one {which is OK!}. 

Then you have your medium size rocks. Those are your meetings and smaller task items like looking over someone's work, delegating work, returning phone calls, etc. 

Finally the pebbles and sand. These are your quick, mini tasks {responding and forwarding emails or changing that voicemail that you meant to do for a while now}. And if you are like me sometimes you get lost on the Internet. You meant to look something up for research but then remember you wanted to watch that video of the dog teaching a baby how to crawl, which leads to another video and so on and so forth before you finally get back to your research. (I hope you know what I'm talking about}. You gotta factor in your distractions. 

So, the next time you go and plan out your day, test this method out. Remember 1. Your big rocks ; 2. Other actionable items (medium size rocks); and 3. Quickies (pebbles and sand).

You can also add other helpful reminders such as a categories for things you are waiting on - for instance the memo you asked your colleague to draft - and personal things like going to the dry cleaners. 

Finally, building daily task lists helps if you have a weekly task list that you write up on Monday. Additionally, having a monthly broad strokes goal helps in building your weekly list. These aren't necessary but they certainly do help. It seems like a lot of lists but really it's like coming up with a road map to getting things done because sometimes we have a list that runs a mile long that is disorganized which can add to the overwhelming sense of feeling. 

I don't work in an environment anymore that requires heavy list building to complete tasks but I improvise on this method to get through my day. It's definitely still helping. And I know I used examples of tasks that was related to my old field, but I am sure you can find big, medium and small sized tasks in the field you are working in to make this list helpful to you. 

Do you have a current method of getting through your work? Tell me about it! 

The ideas and concept behind this task list is from The Management Center based in Washington D.C. A sample of their Daily Task List can be found in the resources section in "Managing Your Time and Staying Organized". It will download as a word document. 

August 27, 2014

Oh hi.

He may just come out of your screen and give you a big kiss. Well, maybe not. He's not really much of a kisser. Unless you just ate something really yummy. Then he'll want to get a sniff and a taste. 

These past few days have been a little tough for our little guy. Well, he doesn't show signs of stress but I feel bad nonetheless. Sadie the cutie puppy needs more attention and when I'm pulled in one direction, one of the dogs usually is left out. Most of the time that's Piri. He usually spends his day napping and keeping to himself, but still. It's a change in routine for him. When Sadie is napping though or is a calm and can stay by herself, I spend my time with him. And during the weekend and on Thursdays, when Yangkyu works from home, they get to spend the whole day together. 

Thanks little guy for being such a good sport while we have our guest here. Next time, this human of yours will be a bit more mindful to take in guests that matches your energy level more. Sadie was a special case. You understand, right?

Piri was probably a bit more confused because even though I was so busy with Sadie, I still managed time to give him a bath yesterday. On National Dog Day no less! He's probably thinking that this human of his is off her groove. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. 

 // Linking up with Blgopaws Wordless Wednesday Bloghop

August 26, 2014

A Guy and His Dogs: Rick, Oscar & Tiki.

Instead of the usual "A Girl and her Dog" monthly feature, I wanted to switch it up a bit and showcase this trio from New York City for the month of August.

This is Rick, Oscar and Tiki, and together they sort of take the Lower East Side by storm. Rick has such a beautiful way of telling his story of his rescue dogs, one with special needs, and I wanted to invite him to share on the blog. I'm very  thankful and touched that he agreed to so. 

Before we get more into their story, I wanted to give a quick mention of some hopeful news on Oscar's front that Rick talks a bit more about below. I have definitely donated and hope you'll take a moment to learn about his story, share with your family and friends and donate if you feel compelled to. 

Here is all about Rick, Oscar and Tiki: 
The guy: Rick Van Benschoten
The dogs: Both were full-grown adoptions so we're not really sure, but Oscar seems to have a good amount of dachshund and a healthy dose of chihuahua, with maybe some corgi or jack russell terrier thrown in. Tiki's even more mysterious, but her rescuers guessed chihuahua (which I see in her face) and beagle.
Rick's favorite snack: A good expresso. Mmmmm, expresso. 
Oscar and Tiki's favorite snack: Grammy's Pot Pie Biscuits
From: Lower East Side, New York, NY
Find them on Instagram: @oxdad 

My girlfriend, Christian, and I have always had rescue pets, but we never went looking for them, they always somehow came to us. We were bringing our elderly cat, Cassady, to the vet when we met Oscar. Our vet's rescue group, NY Pet-I-Care, had saved him from the NYACC euthanasia list after ACC picked him up off the street where he was abandoned, paralyzed. 

When we met him he was playing with 7 or so other animals (I think it was recess for the boarders) and he was incredibly happy and high-spirited with that huge smile, totally unbothered by his limp little legs dragging behind him. We fell in love but weren't sure we were ready for a special-needs pet. Then a few days later we both realized we'd been Googling things like "dog wheelchair" behind each other's backs. Thank goodness we adopted him, because he turned out to be the most amazing, inspirational guy we've ever known. He's always happy and passionate to play, run, explore and socialize. His physical needs took a little time to adjust to, but it all quickly became second nature, and the truth is, we've had emotionally damaged animals with issues that were more challenging than Oscar's. Every day he's a joy to us and so many people that we meet. He's a heart-stealer. In September he travels with his mom to the Clinical Trial for Paralyzed Dogs. They'll be taking four weeklong trips to Ames, Iowa over 6 months and our great hope is that Oscar will be able to walk again.

We were wondering about adopting a second dog to join Oscar on walks and trips to the park, but before we could go looking I met Tiki, a rescue from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky. She was at an adoption event by In Our Hands Rescue, alone in a kennel next to a pen of puppies. Despite her overwhelming adorableness the puppies had a large crowd and she was being totally ignored. I looked at her and she flashed me the most powerful smile - I was dog-zapped. Her smile reminded me of Oscar's, only she was in a cage. After getting her name I kind of staggered away, trying hard to maintain my composure in public. I was a little unsure of committing to the additional responsibility since her needs and Oscar's would be different in a number of ways, but a friend asked me "What will you regret more, getting her or not getting her?" and it was all over. We've had many, many wonderful babies over the years, but more than any of them I feel Tiki thanking me every day for rescuing her. I've never regretted it for a second.
Thank you so much Rick, Oscar & Tiki. 
You can see more of the life they share on Instagram at @oxdad

*First five pictures were taken by Milla Chappell. All others by Rick. 

See more stories here

August 25, 2014

Doggy nap time is the best kind of time around here + other weekend things.

We didn't get caught up with everything but we did with most things. And thank goodness for that. 

Every two weeks Yangkyu does yard work. I think if he could he would wave a magic wand and get rid of all our bushes and shrubs. He hates them. I don't know why. He seemed to plant a bunch of those when we used to play The Sims. We have these two gigantic bush looking trees on our our front lawn and he made them look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Anything that looks stuffy on the bottom he doesn't like, so he trimmed it so we could see the stem of tree. I'll have to take a picture one day and share. 

On Sunday while Yangkyu was doing yard work, I had two napping dogs on my hands so I got around to doing the dishes, did some laundry and ironing, made some mixed berry smoothies, baked muffins for next week and cooked up some cold arrowroot noodle soup {chik neng myun} for lunch. I am currently a fan of any time when it's two napping dogs because it frees up a lot of my time. Piri usually isn't a handful but puppies are. And they like to explore a lot. Explore meaning putting things in their mouths, getting up on things, scratching and barking. It's a whole lot of cute but also a whole lot of handful.

During one hour in one of the weekend days, I heard Christmas carols playing on TV and got really excited for the holidays. I imagined Christmas lights all around our kitchen windows. Or maybe our entire house! I think that would look pretty. Then I thought I was getting ahead of myself and so I looked through some possible Halloween decorations and DIYs. Then I told myself again I'm still getting way ahead myself. Summer isn't over yet! And so, this week, I'm reminding myself, take it day by day because each day brings such surprising gifts and valuable learning lessons. 

So hello Monday. Let's get the week started. 
 // This is Sadie. Our doggy overnight house guest. She likes to lick your face, hands and legs. We call it the Sadie lick attack. I think she's like a level 12. She's pretty good at it. // 

August 22, 2014

weekend theme: play catch up.

What are you up to for the weekend? 

I'm planning on catching up on some sleep, reading and crocheting. Yangkyu has some yard work to do and some studies he needs to get caught up on. So I think the theme for us this weekend is catching up with a lot of things that kind took a back seat to everything else. 

The pictures here really don't have anything to do with the weekend. I just thought I'd sneak them in here to close out the final pictures I had for our Virginia Beach getaway. We took these right before we packed up our hatchback for the 4 hour drive. Ok, it really ended up being 7 hours because of traffic. It was crazy. 

Oh and guess what? We're currently taking care of our first overnight doggy guest. She came in a couple of days ago and will be staying with us all next week. Her name is Sadie, a 6-month old boxer, corgi and husky mix. She's slightly bigger, playful, rambunctious and all puppy. I'm learning a whole lot as I dip my feet into this whole doggy care business and excited for what's in store for us. 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

I can do better.

Have you ever pushed yourself so hard that you burned out? 

Been there. Yes. Totally. 

It was toxic and I would never go back to that. 

The thing is, I was always challenging myself. I kept telling myself "Jane, you can do better." I was always trying to reach my limit, which I never thought I reached because my mind kept saying "I can do more. I can do better." It hurt. It was tiring. It played with my mind. But I just kept pushing forward. 

I don't know when and how I came to be this way. Perhaps it was working on behalf of people who were always in a tougher position than I was or when I saw people cut corners or weren't being serious with their responsibilities. Like this one time: 

I was with a few folks who committed a couple of hours to phone bank for the Obama presidential campaign in 2008. We were going to put in calls to swing voters in Pennsylvania. It was an important state and I realized I had a really important job to do. I went in wanting to make as many quality calls as I could.

While phonebanking, the folks I was with began to take breaks. They were chatting, drinking wine, gossiping and calling their friends. At first I thought it was ok, because we all need breaks and there needs to be fun in anything we do, but then it began to bother me when it felt as though they were being a bit excessive. And then I found myself judging them. I wondered if they were taking this seriously enough or if it was something they wanted to just brag about at some happy hour event they were going to the next day {I know, childish thoughts on my end, too}.

For me, the two hours to phonebank was my time to make as many calls as I could because it was something I believed in and I knew those voters needed to be reached. It was a moment to be serious because serious issues were at stake. I hate to say this but I thought they were privileged and clueless about it. Because if they had time to gossip instead of spending that time to convince a voter then I thought maybe the issues we were facing at that time wasn't really affecting them - unemployment, foreclosures, economic meltdown. I wasn't personally going through them but I tried to understand. 

In the end there were some people who didn't even make 10 calls. I was disappointed. More so afterwards when I began to hear them boasting about phonebanking and being a part of a "grassroots" campaign.  

I went through this kind of incidents many times in the past 10-15 years. Perhaps it was a catalyst in my going to the extreme at times. Perhaps I was merging "I can do better" and "lead by example" together and I ended up burning out. 

I'm at a point in my life where I don't do this anymore. I do commit to doing a good job but I don't push myself to the point where it puts me in an uncomfortable position. I also am very mindful of trying not to judge others. It's not fair for me to do and it comes from a wrong place.

I always took the saying "we can always improve and be better" as a motivating phrase. That was until I realized how deflating it sounds. There is a time and place to say this. It shouldn't be an every day phrase.

ps - I was reading all the comments from my last post and was wondering "where have you all been in my life?!" I half jest, but no seriously. The majority of people in my life from the past have been so different from me - loud, overly bold and confident. It was hard to really be who I was without feeling inadequate and weak. It's good to know that I met so many who know the power of quiet and know their feelings so well and are not afraid to show it. It's also good to know those whose personality types are not this way who are understanding. Thank you for a lovely conversation.  

August 21, 2014

You're too sensitive.

Has anyone said this to you? 

I've heard it. Many many times. And I sort of let that label stick with me. 

It always had a bad connotation. Like I couldn't take criticism and anything people said I took too literally and was being too dramatic about it. Oh and this -- I always made everything about me. 

I thought this was normal until I got fed up with it and the way it was making me feel. I finally decided to take that label off. And cut the people who made me feel this way out of my life. 

The thing is, you can say anything to me. It's really the way you say it. 

Some people took this as I needed things sugar coated. I cut those people out of my life as well. Because if there is anything I really dislike about people is when they don't listen and instead either project or assume and label you.  

I'm at a funny, but good place in my life. Some people see me as almost a hermit. But I have surrounded myself with very few people. These are people who understand who I am, but who are also really great conversationalist and listeners. I used to think that many people had these qualities. It took many heartaches, betrayals and misunderstandings to find out that that's not the case. 

August 20, 2014

Piri's pop art for sale to help homeless dogs in Korea.

A couple of months ago, a pop art artist by the name of Won kyung Cho reached out to me on Instagram asking if she could use some of Piri's pictures for an upcoming exhibition she was prepping for to raise funds to help homeless dogs in Korea. I jumped at the chance to help out in any way that I could and immediately replied back to let her know to use whichever and as many photos of Piri as she needed. 

She sent us updates as she finished her pieces and we were excited for when her exhibition would finally open. Well, the time is here. From August 23 {opens 5 pm} to September, all three of Piri's pop art pieces, along with others, will be on sale to help raise money and awareness for homeless dogs. It'll be held at Pet Cafe Chicu Chicu {애견까페 치쿠치쿠 - 서울특별시 강남구 역삼동 681-17 대일빌딩 1층}.

We wish we could be in Korea to attend ourselves but since we can't, we let some friends and acquaintances we know in Korea about it and if they decided to swing by to send us a picture {and also donate or purchase a piece if they could for a good cause}. I thought to share on the blog as well to spread the word and to just share {because I like sharing anything Piri related!}. 

If you or anyone you know is in Korea, please share this info! And here is a sneak peek at Piri's pop art pieces!

Opening day, August 23 at 5 pm. 

Eyes as round as saucers.

He thought his treats were being treatnapped. He got a little worried there for a sec.

 // Linking up with Blogpaws Wordless Wednesday Bloghop

August 19, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg.

On Saturday, while we were staying in Virginia Beach, we left Piri in good hands with the folks over at Petsmart Doggy Day Care and drove about an hour away to spend the afternoon at Colonial Williamsburg. I have been to this place before on a high school field trip and thought it would be good to go back with Yangkyu who has never been here before. 

We got to see how some things were made back in the 1700, witnessed some re-enactments, bought a few things and ate tavern style over apple ciders. I was surprised to see so many dog owners who brought their pets along. I didn't know that dogs were allowed within the grounds. I kind of regretted not bringing Piri with us but the day ended up being so hot that it was probably better off for him to stay indoors, since he is an older dog. But perhaps if we're ever back in the area during the cooler months, I would love for us to bring Piri along. The College of William & Mary is also not too far off from Colonial Williamsburg and the restaurants, cafes and bookstores all around the area is super dog friendly. 

You probably need more than an afternoon to really take in everything that Colonial Williamsburg has to offer. They even have evening activities, all of which which we didn't check out. We ended up heading back to early so we can have some more beach time. But you were most definitely fun, Colonial Williamsburg! Thanks for a good time. 

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