Saturday, August 23, 2014

I did a jewellery course

I do not have a creative bone in my body. Keep that disclaimer in mind when reading this post. I don't have a 'handy' bone either. Putting together Ikea furniture works really well in my logical, ordered head, but put that allen key in my hand and I lose it. Luckily for me I married someone who could build a car the way I can build a spreadsheet (with his eyes closed) and always knows the exact way to turn a jar to open it. Unlike me, who stands there almost willing the jar to open before cracking it and wanting to throw the jar against the wall. 

I've been wanting to do a creative type course for ages, in a way to try and change this. In the past I have had a tendency for signing myself up to stupid things that I regret- wedding invitation making for example, which was the biggest waste of a painful hungover Saturday ever. I didn't go back for week two. 

Years ago a friend of mine did a silver jewellery course as an extension of a creative-type degree (ie, not boring Commerce like mine) and I was mega jealous. She still wears the ring she made to this day, and it still looks fantastic. I also never thought I'd be able to do anything like it, I just wouldn't have the ability. 

I researched lots of courses, looking for one for absolute beginners, but I still wanted to take away something wearable and good. With genuine time constraint excuses, I put off enrolling for ages, until one day I pulled my finger out. I wasn't exactly signing up for a PHD. The course that looked doable was Silver Jewellery For Beginners through Sydney Community College, and I can't recommend it enough. 
Copper test ring and the beginnings of a silver ring
Copper ring. Deceptively smooth here despite my terrible filing
My textured silver ring, and a warning not to do this course if you value your fingernails!
The finished product. I do get a little bit proud every time I look at it. 
We practiced with copper before they let us loose on actual silver, and it was bloody hard. Apparently it's not uncommon for people not to come back for the second week when they learn it's all done by hand, and it's not just machines that do all the work. 
The teacher was lovely and a jewellery designer in real life. She had great ideas and catered to everyone's skill level, from hopeless me to the guy who used to be a watchmaker (!!!) with way more patience than I have ever had. 

There are definitely parts of the process that I am still useless at, and I'd no doubt win the award for the most saw blades broken in a class. But I don't feel totally hopeless like I did when I first walked through the doors. I dreaded going back the second week, I was that bad, but I can't wait for the final week to finish off another ring. 
I already want to go back and learn more, and have been Pinteresting like mad for project ideas. I'm not sure if it's something I'll be continuing at home- check out just half of the 'basic' tool kit- but I'll definitely be doing another course. I'm pretty happy with my unhandy self! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Reasons you shouldn't get a French Bulldog

There's no denying Frenchies are the dogue de jour. Ha! They are on every second ad and they seem to be multiplying every time I step outside. If I had a dollar for every person that has told me they are 'gonna' get a Frenchie since we got Marcel, I'd be buying a lot of French Bulldogs. 

In an ideal world I'd have gotten a rescue doggie, something I've done before and will definitely do again. I've always had a dog until I moved out of home around the time BJ, the world's best Golden Retriever, passed away at age 16. My aunty used to breed Goldens, BJ was the runt of the litter so we got him, and he turned out to be the most amazing dog, in looks and personality. My aunty was probably pretty dirty that we got him!

We decided on a Frenchie after going to New York, seeing them EVERYWHERE and realising how good they were for small spaces. I'd never seen these dogs before, but every one I managed to make stop and listen to my crazy dog lady harping on told me they were the best. And they were right. 
Back in Oz, I did a bit of research and started to get cold feet. They were really rare (back then) and hard to get a hold of. No one wanted to talk to me, it was like some secret society. I now know why. 
One day walking at the beach I saw a woman with two of the best looking- to this day- Frenchies I've ever seen. I THREW my bag and towel at my husband and sprinted over to her. She was probably freaked out and was really stand offish. She ended up being the breeder we got Marcel from, after a 12+ month wait, so she can't have been too scared. She asked us a million questions, made sure we did everything she wanted before we got our hands on her precious puppies, for which I am eternally grateful. Frenchies are not for everyone. They are obviously the cutest things in the world, but you have this dog for 10+ years. Lots of the people that ask us about Marcel are just not cut out to own a Frenchie. So to do my duty to these awesome little dudes, here are some reasons you shouldn't get one. 

You work long hours
Flight attendants, truck drivers, people who travel heaps for work. These are all the people that have told me they're getting a Frenchie. Please don't. These are not dogs that like to be alone (well, apart from naps in the sun they don't want disturbed). Leaving them alone for hours and hours a day is cruel. They want to be with you and they want your attention. 
I'm quite sure Mr B and I put more thought and research into getting a puppy than most people do into having a baby, but that's me and I make no apologies for it. When I was offered a promotion I made sure Mr B was ok with it, because it meant he would be doing most of the doggy care from then on. I was working from home when we got him as a puppy, and I don't think I would have gotten one if I wasn't. 

You think they're going to be a guard dog
I was once stopped by a truck driver (a different one to above!) who told me he wants one because they 'look so tough' and would go well with his staffies who guard his house. No no no no. So many nos. Marcel thinks he's tough, has mega small man syndrome, but to use him as a guard dog? He would assume an intruder was there to play with him and no doubt end up very, very hurt.

You think the puppy stage ends at 12 months
Marcel is extremely clever, but extremely stubborn. A totally different kettle of fish to having a Golden Retriever (or any other dog I know). You give him a command he looks at you out of the corner of his eye and you can see him contemplating it. He's not at all food motivated and is not at all interested in doing anything you want him to do. 
The 'Frenchie 500' is still a daily occurrence for him, at almost 4. He's a total clown, with the most distinct personality, and that's why we love him so much. 

You like to exercise with your dog
Marcel is the exception to the Frenchie laziness rule. He gets two, one hour+ walks a day, and loses his shit if you make him wait for them. There are exactly two times in his nearly four years that he hasn't stuck to this schedule. Once when it was hailing, another when we were super mega hungover after a wedding and he sensed this and let us off. So nice of him. 
Frenchies generally hate exercise and do not do very well in heat. We never walk Marcel in the day in summer, he goes before and after work all year round. Rain, wind and hangovers included. 

You think they're expensive
Your mate knows where to get one for $2000? Awesome. You think $1000 (or whatever amount) is going to make a difference for a dog you'll have for 10+ years? Vet bills add up and $1000 will be small change if you buy a dog from a dodgy breeder. 

You want a 'fad' colour
A very controversial issue in French Bulldog circles. Personally I feel ill when I see blue, tan, red etc Frenchies for sale for inflated prices because they're so 'rare.' You're basically asking for health problems.

You want to breed Frenchies
No doubt plenty of people are thinking they're going to get rich from selling $3000+ puppies. These people are idiots. They also should definitely NOT be breeding dogs when they have no idea what they are doing, especially with a breed that has more than its share of health problems. 
Most Frenchies are born by caesarian. If you don't know why, google it, and don't think about getting one before you do a LOT more research. 

You don't know about the health issues they have
Like any dogs, dodgy breeding results in dodgy dogs. Health problems in any dog are awful, but in Frenchies they can make life really hard. 
Marcel has been relatively issue free, no more vet visits than any other dog, the same with the other puppies that came from his breeder. We do a lot to make sure this is the case though. From the food we feed him to the shampoo we use to the bed he sleeps on. They can be hard work, there is no doubt about it, but totally worth it. You really need to know what you're getting yourself in to. 

If you're ok with all of this, congratulations. Frenchies truly are the best. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Money money money

Yesterday I left my wallet at home. Quelle horror. I realised as I pulled in to the coffee shop. I managed to scrounge together coffee money from coins in my car I didn’t know where there. Thank you, mysterious change gods.

I had a full on day in the office, nothing unusual there, but I’ve also been doing a jewellery course on Tuesday nights (more on that later). Out of the house from 7am til at least 10pm with no wallet? Yikes. Putting on my new positive thinking hat, I figured I could face this as a challenge rather than a ‘woe is me, today is going to be the worst,’ like I might usually do. I had my lunch with me, I work in an office with access to coffee, tea, water, biscuits (including evil, evil Cheds that I had banned myself from eating) and I have a draw full of things like tuna that I usually ignore for the glory of Cheesymite scrolls. And let’s face it, I’m not exactly withering away from starvation. This is not to say I wasn't  going to miss my About Life wrap and salad for dinner, that usually comes in at around $652.35. Sad face.

Having no wallet and not being able to mindlessly pop over to the shops next to my work, which are actually pretty terrible and do not deserve one cent of my hard earned, was liberating. It reminded me of the times when Mr B and I were hardcore saving, in a galaxy not all that long ago. Ways of going about things that had people laughing and talking about us, both to our faces and behind our backs. To say we’re ahead of those people in the ‘game’ (as some people clearly see life as) is an understatement. I’m not gloating and I’m certainly not saying I'm any better than them, but I’d choose the position I’m in over them any day. Laugh at that, dudes. 

Property purchases, pay rises, income creep, life, all that has led to us being very different with money than we used to. Me especially. We are definitely not out there throwing Monday around on dumb, wasteful rubbish, but we can sure reign things in a bit. Perhaps somewhere between our old ways and our current ones. Let's do this. 

Please note I do not condone Jordan Belfort's behaviour, he's a crook who continues to sell snake oil to naive people looking to get rich quick. Bloody great movie though. 

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