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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Three Years Ago

Three years ago today I woke up to a stunning view of Niagara Falls in the most expensive hotel room I’d ever paid for. I had butterflies in my stomach and a sense of anticipation like I’d never felt before coursing through me. I wanted to wake up slowly and ease into the day but M jumped out of bed beside me. “There’s no time to waste,” he said, giving me a quick kiss. “It’s our wedding day.”

Niagara Falls //

Three years ago I felt the most pampered I’ve ever felt. Mimosas were poured, hair was curled, and though the room was buzzing with energy, everyone was calm and laid back.

Three years ago I looked at our wedding timeline and realized that we were only running five minutes late, which is pretty much a miracle if you know my side of the family. As my bridesmaids and I walked made our way out of the hotel, I felt like a celebrity. Little girls were oohing and ahhing and strangers were complimenting us as we walked to the limo. It’s amazing how kind people are to you when you’re wearing a wedding dress.

Three years ago all the emotions that were building up inside of me came pouring out the moment I saw M waiting for me at the top of the aisle. I looked around and saw the beaming faces of our family and friends and paused for an extra moment before I began to walk up the aisle. I needed to take it all in. The love was overwhelming.

Niagara vineyard wedding inspiration //
Hernder Estates Winery in Niagara outdoor wedding // thelifestyle-project.comNiagara Falls wedding ceremony //
Vineyard wedding inspiration //
Winery outdoor wedding photos //
Photos courtesy of Dave Biesse

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." Emily Bronte

Happy third wedding anniversary to the love of my life. Here's to many more, my sweetheart ♡ xo.
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Thursday, September 03, 2015

An Update on Our Rescue Dog: 3 Months After Adoption

An Update on Our Rescue Dog: 3 Months After Adoption //

Three months ago, my husband and I were able to make one of our dreams come true — we adopted a dog, Lexi, and she’s already brought so much joy into our lives. I never realized how much of a presence a pet can have in your home until we brought this little one into ours.
Between her cute expressions and silly quirks, Lexi honestly makes us laugh every single day. I love having her in our family. She’s increased not only our happiness, but our activity level as well, which is always a good thing :) Lexi came from an abusive and neglectful home (here’s more on her rescue story) but has made remarkable strides in her rehabilitation. 
Some people are turned off from adopting a rescue dog as it can often seem like a whole lot of work, and I understand that. My husband and I had reservations ourselves, so I wanted to write this post to share what our experience has been like for anyone who may be curious about bringing a dog into their home. Here are the most common questions that we’ve been asked about what it’s like to bring home a rescue dog and how she’s adjusting to life three months after adoption. 

FAQs about adopting a rescue dog //

What did the adoption process require? 

We adopted Lexi from our local Animal Control, and because of the conditions in which she was rescued, she was considered “at risk.” This meant that Animal Control required adoption candidates to have an in-home inspection to make sure Lexi would be going to a safe place. The director came to our house, showed us some pictures and videos from when they found Lexi, and looked at where we planned to keep her. We chatted for a bit, completed some simple paperwork, and found out later that afternoon that we’d been approved.

How much did it cost?

It cost $87 to adopt our dog, which included her spaying and rabies vaccination. From Animal Control she was transported directly to the vet, where she received her operation, painkillers, microchipping, and another round of shots for $150. Total cost of adoption: $237.

Was it difficult to go to Canada and get back into the States with your dog?

Fortunately the answer is no, it turned out not to be difficult, but I was pretty nervous. We were driving to Ontario, and to bring your dog into the province you have to prove that it’s not a pitbull and has its official rabies vaccination. I didn’t look up that information early enough, and by the time I called the vet for a copy of Lexi’s official certificate, the office was closed for two days (during the time we’d be travelling to Canada). I found a receipt from when we’d paid for her vaccination and hoped it would be sufficient proof, but as it turned out, the customs officer didn’t even ask a single question about the dog. On the way driving back to the US we passed through Michigan, and the only question we were asked about Lexi was regarding her dog food (no lamb, purchased in the States). Crossing the border, for once in my life, turned out to be super easy!
My experience bringing home a rescue dog //

What was the hardest part about your dog adjusting to your home?

Lexi was incredibly scared at the beginning — new smells, sudden movement, walking from cement to grass, coming indoors — these all caused her to freeze on the spot, no exaggeration, for 10 minutes at a time. The hardest part of Lexi’s adjustment was learning that she could trust us. The first week was trying (she bolted twice!) but after that she began to improve by leaps and bounds. Once she learned that we wouldn’t hurt her, she started to play, cuddle, and share her true personality with us. 

Have there been any challenges with Lexi’s behaviour? If so, how did you handle them?

When we first adopted Lexi, she was dog-aggressive and male-aggressive. She liked to dash out the door but, as mentioned above, hated to walk on grass. We progressively introduced her to other dogs, as long as their owner was right there and the dog was calm. When introducing Lexi to family and friends, we encouraged them to crouch down and allow Lexi to approach them first. I think that taking her with us to Canada and exposing her to so many different experiences helped build up her trust with us and cemented the fact that she’s part of our family unit.
Lexi becoming more comfortable with us has been a double-edged sword, however. She’s overcome her prior issues, but she’s developed others. Lexi is territorial now and tries to bark excessively when someone’s near the door. Her biggest issue is that she doesn’t like children. They’re too sporadic for her, and I can see that she gets nervous and stressed out trying to keep track of their movements. She's particularly bad with little boys and can go from zero to charging in a second. She’s gone after our nephews before, and though she hasn’t broken skin, it’s scary nonetheless. Fixing her child aggression is the biggest behavioural challenge for us moving forward.

What it's like to adopt an abused dog //

Can Lexi do any tricks? Does she have any funny quirks?

Predictably, Lexi didn’t know any commands when we adopted her. In three months we’ve taught her to sit, stay, lie down, shake paws, and we’re in the middle of “roll over” — literally in the middle — she rolls on her back but never quite makes it over. The cool part of training her is that I’ve taught her sign language and verbal commands, which probably isn’t really that cool but I’m proud of it anyway! The funniest quirk of Lexi’s is how often she gives me the stank leg — this girl is a sucker for a good tummy rubbing and is always trying to lure me in for a quick cuddle session.

Any other tips you can share about adopting a dog?

I’d recommend reading about characteristics of the breed of the dog you’re looking to adopt. Lexi is probably a yellow lab, beagle, and rat terrier mix. Labs shed quite a bit, and we discounted how strong that trait would be because Lexi barely shed when we were playing with her at Animal Control. We didn’t factor in that she was dirty and oily which is why her shedding seemed so minimal. Weeks later when we realized how much she actually shed, it was too late, and now we’ve learned to keep multiple lint rollers around the house :P

Do you let the dog sleep in bed with you?

As a first time dog owner, I’ve been pretty adamant about not wanting a dog in the bed. The cramped sleeping arrangements, territoriality, and overall dirtiness had me saying hell no. It’s only been a few months and I’ve already become such a sucker about this! Lexi’s still not allowed to sleep in bed with us, but we do invite her up for a quick snuggle quite regularly.

Puppy love //

FAQs about adopting an abused dog //

I hope I don't come off as preachy, but I can’t finish this post without mentioning that if you’re thinking about getting a dog, please consider adopting one before buying one. If you've got your heart set on a puppy or purebred, there are rescue groups available! It may take a bit more research and time, but there are so many abandoned dogs out there who would love the chance to prove how sweet they really can be.

Have you adopted a dog before? What was your experience like?
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

That Elusive Thing Called Balance

Lately I've been pouring a lot of energy into some new projects, which inevitably has also meant neglecting other areas of my life. 

I know that it’s been too long since my last post when it gets to the point where it feels like words are tumbling out of me and I have to write them down. It may be because it’s the start of my favourite season, because I’m gearing up to pivot/relaunch my business, or maybe it’s just because it’s been so damn long since I was last in the blogging groove, but I’m ready to step back into this online space of mine.

So… let’s catch up, shall we? It’s been four months since I moved to the States. Sometimes I feel like I’m so past the ‘I just moved to a new country thing’ because it’s not nearly as difficult an adjustment as, say, moving to Korea without knowing anyone or speaking a word of Korean. Moving from Canada to the US isn’t that big of a deal, right?

There are other times though where I’m like, damn girl, take a second to acknowledge where you are (<— talking to myself, of course). There’s obviously going to be an adjustment period with living and building a future here. Sometimes it seems like there’s still so much to do in terms of making connections all over again and feeling truly settled in. This Canadian girl now lives in a suburb outside of Nashville, TN, where I see jacked up pickup trucks, cowboy boots, and soldiers on the regular. It’s quite an interesting mix!

We’re renting a cute townhouse and I have my own home office which is pretty rad. I still need to finish decorating in there — nothing is hung on the walls and I’m failing miserably in my search for the perfect accent chairs. The space is more than functional, though, and I really do enjoy working from home. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to supplement our income with my freelance projects, but lately it’s become more apparent to me that my heart isn’t into freelance writing and editing anymore. Though I’m so grateful for the clients I’ve had, that type of work involves a lot of things that, to be honest, no longer excite me. Finishing my projects and figuring out what’s going on with me career-wise has been another big part of adjusting to life in Tennessee. Do I want to go back to full-time traditional employment, maybe something related to my degree? (I have a bachelor’s in criminology and psychology.) 

Or… should I listen to this little voice that’s telling me I could start my own business and do something that fulfills me creatively? 

Travel inspiration from

I’ve been so inspired by podcasts lately, particularly the Being Boss podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I listen to episodes in the mornings when I walk my dog and it’s a great way to start the day. I’ve turned my dreaming into planning and soon I’ll be ready to share more, I promise. In the meantime, I’m so so sorry for doing that damn blogger thing of referring to something obscure in the vague future! I think that writing about this venture is my way of putting my intentions out into the world... let’s hope good things happen :)

But, back to life as it stands right now, I’m being sensible and striving for that elusive thing called balance. I’ve decided to apply for part-time positions and build up my business on the side. I’ll see about full-time transitioning either way when/if I get there, but this is what feels right for now. 

I’m excited. In a tingly, can’t-stop-smiling kind of way, and that’s when you know it’s something really special.

This summer has been good to me, but whenever these cooler temperatures hit I’m always reminded of how much I love the fall. It’s a new season (the best season — hello layers!), a time for change, and a time for growth. 

What are you up to now that summer’s coming to its end?
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