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In the beginning of January, I mentioned in this post that I was looking forward to doing some volunteering this year with Hands on Charlotte. Well, this past Monday was my first official volunteer effort and it was a huge success. I signed up for an opportunity called Pet Visits in which well bahaved dogs and their owners make a trip to a nursing home to visit with the residents. I was somewhat nervous about taking Bog because although he is well bahaved 99% of the time, he tends to act out at the vet sometimes. With a similar tile floor, white walls, and sterile vibe as the vet, I was worried the nursing home might put him in the same place. But, I figured it was worth a shot. So, I headed over Monday night with Bog and a pocket full of treats in hopes to get the best out of him. He of course was just excited for a car ride. Oh, the simple mind of a canine.

When we arrived, there were a few other dogs and owners waiting in the lobby. A black lab named Finley, a golden retriever named Jordan, a poodle mix named Lucy, and a recue mutt named Lucky. Bog was definitely the smallest of the bunch. After getting aquanted with everyone, we went over the general guidelines. We would walk through the halls, knock on open doors and politely ask “Do you like dogs?” If they seemed interested, we would bring the dogs in one at a time to be pet and make small talk and then move on. Simple enough.

Lucky, the veteran of the group, led the way and we all paraded down the hall. The first few rooms were dog lovers and we were able to bring huge smiles to their faces. A few of them wanted to tell us about their dogs they used to have and asked if they could keep ours. The big dogs always got the same reaction, but then when I would bring Bog over, it was always some sort of “oh look at his wrinkles!”, “oh he’s so pudgy”, “oh that curly tail is so cute”, or my favorite “where is his nose?”. He was always greeted with a smile simply for the fact that he has that so-ugly-hes-cute thing going on.

And Bog LOVED it. The attention was like Christmas morning to him. He loved getting in the beds with a few of the residents and greeting those in wheelchairs. He would let them pet him and he would just wag that tail letting them know he was so happy to be there in that moment with them. They frequently called him a bull dog and a few even said they remembered him from last time. I just smiled and would agree knowing this was his grand debut at White Oak Manor and agreed to bring him back to see everyone again soon.

As we went from room to room, Bog would stay close and sit down right next to me as we waited for the other dogs to make their visits. It was like he just knew what to do. The nurses fawned over him and would ask if he snored at night. They all got a big kick out of him and he loved the attention of course. Not once did he jump up on anyone or act scared. It was like he knew he had a job to do and he did it. All the other dog owners couldn’t get over how well behaved he was and didn’t try to stray away like their dogs. He just knew to be calm and patient as we made our way through the building.

After about an hour and a half of visits, we all went our seperate ways and Bog finally got his reward treats in the car on the way home. I was so proud of him. I told a friend the next day that it almost felt like being the parent of the kid that won the spelling bee. He was a natural. And I’m proud to report we have already made plans to visit another area nursing home at the end of February. I’m hoping to make this a regular volunteer effort that we can help with. I got so much out of it and I dare say he did as well.

I didn’t take any photos at the home out of respect of the resident’s privacy. But I did Instagram this little gem of my sleepy boy on the back of the couch resting on my shoulder once we got home. Yes, he is really this sweet all the time. I’m one lucky dog owner. Ok, I’m done bragging now. Do you have any moments your animals have you bragging about them about? Please let me know I’m not alone in this.

sleepy bo

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This whole “living by yourself” thing has taken some time to get used to. In the beginning, the quiet was TOO quiet for me and not having someone else in the house to talk to was strange. But now that I’m a month in, I’m happy to report…I LOVE IT. I love that my apartment really is a haven and I look forward to coming home to the quiet most days. The pugs have adjusted well and are actually starting to get along better than I imagined. I’ve caught them napping on the couch together twice and if I’m on the couch with them, this is usually what ends up happening.

bog and penn sleeping together

Because Penny is still very much in puppyhood, she does need a timeout now and then. She runs circles around Bog and sometimes we both need a break from the crazy. So I block her in my room with the babygate. She doesn’t fight it though. She tends to just fall asleep waiting for timeout to be over.

penny in timeout

Speaking of Penny, she also has a new love for the space heater. Because my place isn’t all that big, I’ve been avoiding turning the heat on. So, I run this little heater for a few hours while I’m home and it heats it up pretty quick. Penny has discovered this is where the warm air comes from and this is her new favorite spot.

penny and the heater

Oh, also, for those of you who read this and who I’m also friends with on Facebook, I just wanted to give you a heads up I’m taking a break from it for the month. Or longer, we will see how it goes. No real major reason for this other then it’s my least favorite of the social media outlets and I just need a break from it. It’s actually been really nice. I still check Twitter and Intagram but those outlets don’t rub me the wrong way like Facebook does sometimes. So, cheers to less stress in 2013 ūüôā

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Well it’s that time of year where we begin our detox from the holidays, take a few moments to reflect on the year, and look forward to what is to come.

In a world of peaks and valleys, 2012 was a bit of a valley for me. But, the valleys are what make the peaks so great, right? 2012 was a year of learning hard lessons. It was a year of going through some tough spots put in my path to make me stronger. It was a year of sorting out relationships and learning some things about myself. So, as 2012 ends, I may have a bitter taste when it comes to the learning curve I found myself in, but I am hopeful. Hopeful that 2013 will be a peak.

I have the usual New Years Resolutions that everyone starts off with. Become healthier for one. I’ve already been on this train for a while but it’s time to kick it up a notch. Running and I WILL become friends again if its the last thing I do. The gym at my new apartment complex will be a huge help in this department. If only I wasn’t a first class snooze-hitter. Enter Resolution #2: Learn not to hit snooze.

I also feel like it’s time to start crossing off some items from my life list again. I haven’t exactly crossed anything of significance off in a while. I’m actually ahead of the game and already have a plan for one of them. In particular, volunteering my time for a year. Back in November, I decided to go ahead and look into some oportunities in my community to help out with and I came across Hands on Charlotte. I signed up and actually just finished my orientation hours just a few weeks ago. So, I’m set. I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it. The opportunity I am most excited to try is called Pet Visits. It involves getting to take Bogart to a nursing home to visit the elderly twice a month. No training required for this one, just a sweet dog that minds well. So, I thought Bogart fits that description just fine. He’ll get to go visit with residents who probably had pets themselves and miss having a dog around. I think it’s going to be a great chance to help out and bring some smiles to some faces. There are all sorts of other opportunities I’m going to dive into as well like helping with some Bingo Nights and some building projects around the city. I’ll keep you posted and if you are in Charlotte, I strongly encourage you to help out as well!

I’m also going to do more cooking and also try to do more reading. I feel like I say those every year and probably do. But it’s good to throw them out there.

So, as 2012 ends, I hope you are ready for 2013 as well. Was it a peak or a valley year for you?

Gosh, I’m almost embaressed to even come back to blogging. I can’t believe how long its been. I feel like I should catch you up on everything going on! Along with everything I mention below, I have had another encounter witht he flu this year. Yep, that makes 2 years in a row for me. Gotta love it! But I’m all better and glad to be back.

Basically everything¬†I wrote in my last post has either happened or I am reporting on similar news…

I still love Instagram and I am so glad I have friends who love it too! I am that shameless person who posts lots of pics of ther dogs. What can I say, I’m a crazy pug lady and I own it. If you don’t like it, sorry! Find me on there ifyou have it too: melanieloren is my username.

¬†Lets catch up using Instagram…

Here’s a pic of the green river on St. Patricks Day at the National White Water Center. On St. Patricks Day, they turn the river green and provide food and live music and games…it was very laid back and lots of fun! And a beauitful day for it.

Here’s my big 6 year old boy! He has no shame. I love this pic of him, it sums him up perfectly. Sleepy, lazy, and always down for a tummy rub. Gotta love him.

Here’s that Cooper River Bridge I run accorss every year. This year was just like the others! The weather seemed to be exceptional though, we had cool breezes and sun all weekend. The bridge never gets shorter though. I did shave a few minutes off my time so I was happy about that! Till next year bridge…

My mom is in Haiti this week on a mission trip with my church from back home. I’ve been pretty jealous of her since she got to go. But I’m so happy she is having such a great time! SHe’ll be back on Saturday and I can’t wait to hear about her trip.

Here’s my absolutly glowing friend Brooke. She is a little over 8 months preggo¬†and she will be having baby Bennett by the beginning of May (hopefully!!). I was able to drop by her house and do some catching up over coffee this past weekend and¬†also¬†gave her some goodies I had made for her. These little onsies and blanket were made by a good friend of mine (from childhood!) names Stacey (Wentz) Lewis. She has the most adorable Etsy store called StaceyLew. I highly reccommend her for all your custom baby gift/shower needs!!

And last but not least, this little girl turns 1 today…

She loves pulling this ripped toy over her head and walking around with it on. I like to call it her dress because she insists on wearing it around the house almost every night. She is so funny. I can’t believe she’s a year old. She may be frustrating sometimes and we are still working on her stubborn streak but she is definitely all mine. Happy Birthday Penn!

Whew, sorry for the lengthy post. Hope the pics helped!

 

Seems like I have a lot of ground to cover! So let’s go with a list…

1. I did indeed get an iPhone about a month ago. I am loving it. I can’t get use to having so much technology at my fingertips. Seriously, wow. One of my favorite apps has to be Instagram. I’ve been participating in a fun “Photo A Day in March” hashtag-along and I’ve really enjoyed it! It’s encouraged me to document my life more in a quick and convenient way. Here are a few of my favorites…

Day 3: Your Neighborhood

Day 7: Something you wore

Day 14: Clouds

2. Guess who turns a wopping 6 years old tomorrow! I can’t believe he is already 6!¬† Time flies. I remember when he was just a tiny little puppy. Now he’s my wise old man pug with his gray gotee ūüôā I just love him to pieces. It’s hard to remember life without him. We will be celebrating on Saturday with a nice long walk and a doggie-canolli from our favorite pet bakery. And lots of hugs and kisses.

Here he is at 3 months old .

Here he is now, my Bogart Theodore. So handsome.

3. I’m running the Cooper River Bridge 10K again in a few weeks. It has become an annual thing we attend now and I am so excited to go back. It’s really like a mini vacation. We make it a 4 day weekend and just spend lots of time sight seeing and hanging out in downtown. I am so stoked! Here’s hoping there are no injuries and safe travels!

4. In other news, spring has sprung! Not sure if you have noticed but it gets quite warm these days in the Carolinas. I think we went from fall to about 3 days of winter to a “cold spring” straight to summer in March. Oh well, I guess that’s global warming for ya!

5. Are you excited about The Hunger Games coming out in theaters this weekend? I am! I read the first book and am working on the 2nd now. I wish I could say I can’t put it down but I’m just not that kind of reader. I can put the book down. But I am enjoying it!! I’m looking forward to maybe catching a matinee on Sunday after all the crazies clear out. Movie review to come!

I hope to start blogging regularly again…sorry again for the long hiatus!

1. Happy MLK Day! Hope some of you were able to enjoy a day off. I was not that lucky. So, take a nap and watch the DVR some for me, please.

2. The house is coming together. Finally. I feel like M and I have been spinning our wheels getting it painted, things hung up, and things where we want them. It truely is exhausting. Not to mention you throw in a 40 hour work week, about 4 hours of part time work a week, at least 3 hours of boot camp a week, and then sleeping…yeah…time is in high demand these days. Which means we have been running like crazy on the weekends. BUT, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. Pictures to come at a later date. Promise!

3. Speaking of paint, I’ve had 3 different swatches on my bedroom wall for about 3 weeks now. After much debate, I decided¬†I was looking in the completely wrong color scale and decided to go way more….purple. Here is the color chip from the Home Depot website. It’s called Vintage Mauve. It’s rich and pretty…looks great with my new white furniture. I currently have 2 walls done. Planning to finish up the other two 2 on Tuesday. The parents are coming to visit Saturday. I’m hoping my Dad will hang my new mirror and my curtain rod for me. PLEASE, Dad???

3. I’ve added quite¬†a few pairs of shoes to my collection here recently. I have a love/hate relationship with shoes. I LOVE shoes but¬† I hate shelling out the dough for them. But when it’s time, it’s time. I really needed a new pair of¬†non-working out¬†tennis shoes. The pair I’ve been wearing were bought on clearance when I as in college. So, yeah. It was time. So, I¬†got these from¬†Zappos.com for only $50 with free shipping! I highly reccommend Zappos, by the way. Great website & company!

I also got these little beauties from Off Broadway for a super good deal. I figured it was time to add some cowgirl boots to the collection. They are not REAL boots but more like fashion boots. I figure if I wear these out, I’ll splurge on the real thing at some point.

Then while browsing through Old Navy Friday after work, I saw these cuties and got them because they were marked down from $37 to $9. And they are fuzzy and warm on the inside. Love them A LOT.

5. The pugs are starting to do this funny bonding thing. You may remember when I first got Penny last summer, Bogart wasn’t too excited about having an annoying little sister. But slowly but surely, she has started to grow on him. She wants to be next him ALL. THE. TIME. It’s so cute. But he isn’t too interested in being near her. At all, really.¬†UNLESS…they are chewing on a bone/toy. Then for some reason, it’s like he doesn’t mind her being next to him all of a sudden. These moments are few and far between but I have actually been able to catch it on film 3 times.

Exibit A:

Exibit B:

Exibit C:

I apologize for the awful quality of the photos but these moments are fleeting and the phone camera is usually all thats available. Love these 2. These little moments give me hope that they will be best of buds some day. One can dream, right?

6. Not to¬†skip around a lot¬†but I forgot to mention this earleir. I’m putting together a white frame collage on one of my walls with some photos and prints. I came accross this print the other day and I LOVE¬†IT. It reminds me of my childhood. I’m sure my Mom will know exactly where it’s from but if you can name it, you get 5 cool points!

Today I’m linking up with Walk With Me By Faith¬†and her
Christmas Card Carousel.

After an afternoon of chasing the dogs around, taking probably 100 shots with only about 7 worth looking at, I finally began the search for a Christmas card on Shutterfly. After much debate I went with the following card.
I decided simple and traditional was best.

   

BUT…if I had it to do over again, I would have sent this one out…

I’ll give you ONE guess as to who’s the naughty one…

Merry Christmas from The Pugs & I ūüôā

Hello again! Making my return to the the ole blog today. What a whirlwind month. I feel like I blinked and it was over. Halloween has come and gone and of course i dressed up the pugs. What’s the fun of having dogs if you can’t humilate them once a year with halloween costumes?

Here is Penny as a Bat and Bogart as a Hot Dog. I wish I had gotten a better, non vampire eyes picture but this is as good as it was going to get this year. You have no idea how many treats it took to make this picture happen.

Here’s a close up of Miss Penny in her bat wings I made ala Martha Stewart!

Some black felt, black thread, some black elastic, and 6 hours later and I had a Bat Pug! She was cute for the .5 seconds she didn’t spin in circles trying to get it off. Maybe she will tollerate it longer next year.

Other than Halloween, some other exciting stuff has happened the past few weeks. For one, The Mammary Clan finished their 39.3 mile walk for Breast Cancer! Here they are at mile 15 where we mewt them at the cheering station…

You like my Dollar Tree poster? I made it at the last second. Oh, and pay no attention to my halo…it tends to pop up in pictures from time to time. So embarassing.

Here they are at the very end on Sunday crossing the finish line! Yay!

Sore and tired but they crossed together! So happy for them!

Last weekend I got to go to a Panther’s game. It was super fun! Here’s the lone pic I took.

I’ll be heading to the Panthers vs. Titans game in a few weeks with Melissa and I can’t wait!! It’s going ot be TONS-O-FUN!

Hmm…what else can I update you on? Oh, Penny’s surgery went well. Here’s her pic post surgery while she was all doped up…

The next day, it was like nothing even happened. She was back to her old self again. Trying to keep a puppy from being “active” for 7 days is impossible. She was leaping off the couch and running around like crazy the very next day. I gave up.

Oh, also, we found out that we have to move…again. I know. You guys are probably sick of hearing me tell you about how I move practically every year. Well, this time it is not our fault! The owner of our lovely little townhouse is wanting to move back into his house in January. Therefore, we have 2 months to figure something out. We are looking into options right now and should have a plan here soon. Yay us. So, keep us in your prayers that something pans out!

So glad to be back blogging again! Missed you guys!

Well, the birthday week is officially over. For some reason, this year seemed to be extra special. I felt the love from all angles and I am so thankful to all my friends and family who made it a special birthday this year. Also, a special thanks to my parents who said such sweet things via the internet. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people surrounding me. So, if you are one of them, please know I am thankful for your love!

In other random news…let me introduce you to Kate…

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She was bestowed upon me for my birthday by my roommate and bestest friend, Mert. She caught wind of the Kate Spade Sample Sale last week and decided to splurge on my birthday by having this little beauty sent to the house. I was in complete shock. I insist this is my Birthday and Christmas present for 2011. You hear me, M?

Want to hear the craziest part?? She picked this one out because “it looked like me”. Little did she know I blogged about it at the beginning of the summer AND I pinned it! I think we’ve lived together a little too long…she knows me way too well.

So here is my official internet THANK YOU shout out to my roomie. Love you Mert! Thank you for such a thoughtful gift!

Miss Penny Mae is up to no good these days. She has learned to climb the stairs. Watch out, Bogart!! She is so proud of herself when she does it too. The only downside is that I now have to gate off the stairs when I don’t want her up there. Oh, and also, she hasn’t learned to come DOWN the stairs yet…so many times I have had to go retrieve her from her new clubhouse, “the upstairs”. She is a trip and her personality is coming out more and more each day.

Here she is at the top of the stairs. And there is the famous Pug head tilt…a high pitch noise will do it every time!

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Also, unexpectedly, I am no longer the owner of a Blackberry. I know, I was kind of sad too. I truely miss you, Blackberry Messenger. Said roomie, Mert, just ¬†HAD to have an iPhone. Which meant, her Android was not in use and obviously is a little more up to date than my Blackberry. So, I switched. I’m still getting use to it but so far, so good! I’m somewhat addicted to Words with Friends. Do you guys play it? If so, leave me your username and we’ll play! Oh, and don’t worry, I’m terrible so count on a win!

My other favorite apps include the Starbucks App which I can use to track my gold card and recent birthday gift card balances, My Fitness Pal where I keep track of what I’ve eaten for the day and how many calories I’ve burned, and Gas Buddy where I can see where the cheapest gas in town is. Any other apps you guys want to suggest would be great!

And because I have given Penny lots of blog time lately, I better share some love to her big bro. Here are a few pics I snapped of my adventure in walking them TOGETHER on Saturday morning. I’m trying really hard to do this every day so they will “become a pack” as Ceasar says. It’s quite interesting having 2 dogs that go at 2 different speeds. Here’s a little look into our walking dynamic…

Bogart wants to sniff every tree and Penny…well..she just wants to sniff Bogart. If you can’t tell, he isn’t interested in being sniffed.

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Again…Bogart just wants to enjoy EVERY SINGLE TREE…while Penny is screaming “COME ON”….mentally, that is…

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And when I can finally drag Bogart away from that tree he just HAS TO SMELL…we finally get going and it’s not so bad….and for a little while, there is peace among the Pugs.

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It seems like I have tried a lot of new products lately and I just wanted to share a few with you guys. I don’t know about you, but I love to read real live reviews from people I know. Makes me feel better about purchasing them knowing my fellow bloggers/friends/coworkers agree they are good products. So here goes nothing!

I actually tried this a few months ago. I can’t say enough good things about Almond Milk. If you love almonds but aren’t crazy about milk, try this. My favorite combo is the vanilla milk over plain Cheerios. It has a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients and at 40 calories per 8 ounces, it’s a healthy choice. I really like the dark chocolate milk as well. It’s like a candy bar in a glass!

I love this rice. It’s ready in 90 seconds and is perfect with chicken or fish¬† and mixed veggies after boot camp. Big fan!

This one pretty much goes without saying. I had this on a crepe at a restaurant¬†a while ago and fell in love. I have since bought a jar and put it on my whole weat toast some mornings. It’s also good by the spoonful if you need ot get rid of a sweet tooth after dinner. But don’t ask me how I know that.

I got a couple of these Victory Burnout Tees at the Underarmour outlet in back in May while on a trip to the beach¬†and I am loving them. They are thin, breathable, and great for boot camp and running. I wear a tank under them and I’m good to go. Highly reccommend them to anyone working out in this 100% humidity.

I bought this Pantene Detangler spray a few weeks back for those days when I don’t feel like conditioning. My medium-thick hair gets filmy if I condition every day. So somedays, I’ll wash and then spritz with this spray before drying to keep it managable. It’s worked beautifully! It keeps the strays in line and adds shine. Great product.

And last but not least, here is my favorite dog product at the moment. I call this little baby God’s gift to¬† puppy owners. I bought one of these when Bogart was a puppy a looooong time ago. 5 years later, I decided to buy Penny one for those nights when I just need her to be still for 10 minutes. Works like a charm. I put the peanut butter cookie in there and she’s good for a good 10-15 minutes. I actually ended up getting Bogart one as well. He was becoming quite jealous of the puppy’s new toy. He won’t be getting his quite as often as she will though. The Kong was the demise of his healthy weight days. As a recovering food addict, he’s gotta watch the peanut butter intake in his middle age ūüôā

Back in the day…

The Life List

* Ride in a hot air balloon *Have a meal with someone famous *Walk across the bridge at Grandfather Mountain *Visit Paris and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower *Adopt a rescue dog *Send my parents on a trip funded by only me *Walk/Run in the Cooper River Bridge Run (April 2007) *RUN the entire Cooper River 10K (3/27/2010) *Run a half marathon (aiming for 12/11/2010) *Watch an entire scary movie without hiding my eyes or screaming * Become a Blood Donor (2/5/2010) *Go horseback riding on an actual trail out west *See the Grand Canyon *Take a cross country road trip *Sing kareoke *Backpack around Europe *Visit New York during Christmas to see Rockefeller Center (12/6/2008) *Go on a cruise with my BOMBAYS *Pull the handle on a slot machine in Vegas *Swim with dolphins *Buy an outrageously expensive handbag just b/c I fell in love with it *Attend an awards show of some sort *Win a prize on the radio (Dec. 2007) *Go to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN *Fall in love and stay in love *Become a mom *Become the coolest aunt ever *Dance with my Dad *Learn to Hula Dance *Learn Italian and use it in Italy *Read the Bible cover to cover *Witness a miracle (All of 2009-the year of watching miracles happen) *Move to the beach for retirement *Volunteer regularly for a year *Buy a house and pay it off *Leave a $100 tip for a $10 meal *Go sailing on a sailboat *Learn to surf *Be completely swept off my feet *Go white water rafting with my family (6/3/2010) *Go parasailing *Tour the White House *Return to Haiti (4/3/2010)