Adventure.

The older I become, the less I can consider myself to be much of an adventurer. This is a hard thing for me to admit. I like to think of myself as young, fearless, and carefree. But if I’m being honest, I will recognize that I most often choose to stay in the safe zone of life. The threat of failure and disappointment are always lingering in the back of my mind like the monster beneath the bed. Unfortunately, this vice exposes itself in most areas of my life… even as I approach photography, I worry that by attempting to shoot in manual mode, I will miss the perfect shot, and end up with a grainy or distorted image. I often forget that by taking on the challenge of manual mode, I also run the risk of capturing a shot that is exponentially more moving than anything I could while in Auto. A euphemism for life, is it not?

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There are only about two areas in my life where this fear of failure does not readily apply. One of those is when I’m riding. I wouldn’t say that it applies with horses in general… such an expensive, competitive hobby can be endlessly daunting in the pursuit of success. However, when I am on the back of my horse, not much else matters. I bravely approach a four-foot fence, trusting in my horse to help us find our way safely to the other side. I happily mount a young two-year-old, relying on my body, in both its natural and learned abilities, to feel and react to the potential tornado underneath my seat.

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The other place where my fearless nature shines is in the great outdoors with our pups. I feel most myself when surrounded by the four beings I love most in this world. And when I am truly myself, fear and worry seem to drift quietly out of my mind. Our pack winds through wooded trails, not knowing what is around the bend, as the sunlight streams spottily between the trees. The dogs run boldly ahead, coming back to us from time to time to check that we are following obediently behind. J. wraps his hand around my waist, pulling me snuggly to his side, and plants a kiss on my forehead. This is my happy place, my safe place, the place where I am ME, free from judgement or misunderstanding. And in this moment, when the stress of the outside world is not threatening, I AM fearless, carefree, and brave.

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If you follow our blog, you see evidence of our many adventures together. We love to take the dogs hiking, boating, swimming, and camping. Rain or shine, hot or cold, we spend lots of time in the outdoors. Basically, whenever our busy schedule allows! Sure, it can be a challenge to load up the pups and our supplies, often at the mercy of the fickle Pennsylvania weather. Sometimes we encounter unfriendly dogs or humans, and even snakes! But the positives always outweigh the negatives. We come home exhausted and dirty, but always somehow rejuvenated. It may drain our reserves of energy and patience, but it always recharges the batteries of happiness and passion.

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I am a big believer in the fact that we are all multi-faceted. We can be both fearful and brave, powerful and weak, confident and insecure. But it is our job to put ourselves in situations, and surround ourselves with the individuals, who bring out the best in us. That is what our dogs do for me. What do yours do for you?

This week, the blog is going to be devoted to adventure. Please be sure to check back throughout the week, and get involved in the comments and contributions… there will be something awesome in it for some of our lucky readers!

(Not Really Ever) Wordless Wednesday: What You’ve Missed!

Have you been missing our pups’ sweet faces?! I hope so, because today I will catch up with you through a photo montage, showing some of what we’ve been up to over the past week or so. You’re welcome 🙂

She loves him, but only a little bit ;)

She loves him, but only a little bit 😉

With his baby girls

With his baby girls

 

 

 

It is impossible to have a bad day, when you get to wake up to this!

It is impossible to have a bad day, when you get to wake up to this!

Our dogs know how to party... they make custom confetti!

Our dogs know how to party… they make custom confetti!

She fell asleep in the sunshine

She fell asleep in the sunshine

 

Sharing a stick

Sharing a stick

And just a few days later…

My favorite way to spend a day :)

My favorite way to spend a day 🙂

Those ears! Get me every time

Those ears! Get me every time

Thanks for stopping by everyone! Have a great day 🙂 Tune in tomorrow for info about the giveaway, including the closing date. If you haven’t donated yet (what, are you crazy?!) head here. Remember, every $10 increment of your donation, earns you another entry for one of 11 amazing prizes! Many thanks to all who have donated thus far. Your chances are looking REALLY good, which is great for you, but not quite as great for all of the needy pit bulls LCPO wants to help out this year.

Fundraiser: Prize #10 – Sunshine & Pitties

When we got married, I was so honored to have Foster Dad’s (FOUR!) sisters standing beside me on our big day. It was really important to me to find unique and distinctive gifts for each of his special ladies, that applied to their respective interests. I didn’t want to go the route of gifts with our wedding date engraved for years to come. For J’s youngest sister, E, it was so simple. We both share a passion for animals, and a lifelong dedication to the world of competitive horse showing. Where I had my once-in-a-lifetime horse named Frosty, hers is also a gorgeous, tall, gray gelding, named Norman. I knew that for her gift to be especially meaningful, I would need to incorporate her first love and best man! After taking a few (amateur!) shots of her gallant steed, I sent them along to an incredibly talented artist who specialized in custom animal portraits. Of course, E opened her gift with an appropriate mix of speechlessness and tears, and I was so proud to be able to provide her with such a treasured keepsake, truly indicative of my appreciation for her role in our lives, and in our special day.

I share this story to illustrate just how sacred such a gift can be. Our animals grace our lives in a pivotal, yet heartbreakingly brief, way. Having their presence preserved in a work of art to display in your home, is a gift that is truly invaluable.

DawgArt –  Unleash Your Pet’s Colorful Personality!

The watermark will not appear on the print, it is just to protect the copyrighted images!

The watermark will not appear on the print, it is just to protect the copyrighted images!

Alicia is an artist that specializes in pet portraiture and animal art in vivid color. She created her company, DawgArt, in 2003. She draws inspiration from a former professor, who would leave his students with the message to “Use your powers for good!” Alicia believes that art has power, and so when she puts her brush to her canvas, she has two goals: 1) to communicate the soul of one creature to another, and 2) to make people smile. All it takes is one look at her work to know that she brilliantly achieves both goals! However, she also absolutely uses her power for good, advocating for no-kill rescue and working with many animal rescues across the country.

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Alicia has worked with almost every breed of dog imaginable.

 

While she works primarily in acrylic on canvas, Alicia also dabbles in photography, dry media, and writing. The inspiration for the color splash in her portraits comes from her youth in the desert Southwest. Alicia was born in Germany and raised in sunny Arizona, but now lives in Utah with her husband Tyler, their rescued cat Kiko, and their shelter dog Toby.

Alicia's work includes, dogs, cats, horses, and even wild animals!

Alicia’s work includes, dogs, cats, horses, and even wild animals!

 Please visit Alicia’s store (here) to purchase any of these prints, but of course, she also embraces and encourages private commissions of custom portrait work. Can you imagine how impressive it would be to have a portrait of your own pet done in her bright and sunny style?! She captures the personality of her subjects so truly and eloquently, that you can’t help but smile.

Alicia has graciously offered a donation of 8×10 fine art prints. Please make a donation to our fundraiser for LCPO’s needy pit bulls, in increments of $10, to earn an entry! The bigger your donation, the more chances you have to win and one of our fabulous prizes!

Fundraiser: Prize #9 – Frost Yourself in Inspiration

Anyone that knows me in ‘real life’ knows that I have a thing for quotes. (I’m talking to you, Ticki Nhoma) I think that finding a few well-chosen words, uttered by a powerful individual from another time, can provide strength and courage when facing a new or challenging situation. It can bring comfort to know that someone else has been where you are, and gotten to the other side, mostly unscathed. I have always loved jewelry that can be symbolic of treasured quotes, because it serves as a physical reminder of the things that inspire us. My favorite quote in the world is “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” So it’s no surprise that the Best Gift of all Time is the snowflake necklace my husband got me for my birthday last year, in remembrance of my beloved show horse, Frosty.

(Side note, my second favorite quote is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi)

(Side note, my second favorite quote is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi)

Lulu Bug Jewelry – Animal-Inspired Designs

While doing a search for wearable pit bull designs, I came across Lulu Bug Jewelry, where the masterpieces are all entirely hand-made and designed by an artist named Sue. While she says that her career choice was motivated by the fact that she comes from a long line of crafty women, her sweet Shar Pei, Lulu Bug, inspired the name. I knew instantly that I had to feature her work on the blog, as it fits perfectly into the jewelry requirements I listed above. Her work is truly meaningful, capturing memories and serving as a talisman of your inspirations and emotions. In her own words, Sue’s artistic process is defined below:

“I sculpt, inlay with tinted concrete and use my own illustrations to create original, meaningful pieces in .999 fine silver and .925 sterling silver. Fine silver is different than sterling in that it has no copper alloy, it’s pure silver. After the piece is formed, it’s fired in kiln at 1650 degrees for 2 hours. The binder burns off and the particles fuse, forming a pure silver object, also known as .999 fine silver. It’s quite magical! The majority of my pieces are made with fine silver PMC. ”

Sue's work features almost every breed of dog imaginable... you are sure to find a piece that reminds you of your own special pet!

Sue’s work features almost every breed of dog imaginable… you are sure to find a piece that reminds you of your own special pet!

Lulu Bug Jewelry has been in business since 2007, and Sue has been focusing on her personal creations full-time since 2009. All of her designs are eco-friendly, as they are made with reclaimed silver. The illustrations on her pieces are all created by Sue, and so you won’t find them anywhere else! She even makes the tools she uses to create these masterpieces.

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You can purchase any of the pieces above, as well as many more, at Sue’s etsy shop, found here. You will be amazed at the quantity of work she offers, from ancient dinosaurs to whimsical recreations of wild animals, and of course many breeds of dogs, cats, and horses. She has a variety of necklaces made to feature motivational quotes, and other symbols that may be uniquely inspiring to your life story. Sue has graciously granted a discount to And Foster Makes Five, which has enabled us to provide one lucky winner with the Tiny Smiling Pit Necklace, shown below. To be eligible to win, simply head here to make a donation in increments of $10, which will earn you one entry for each $10 you pledge! As always, 100% of the funds will go directly to helping needy pits rescued through Luzerne County Pit Bull Owners in Pennsylvania.

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Fundraiser: Prize #2 – Pet Portraits!

As a semi-newlywed, I am still working on making our home a cozy and warm environment. We are lucky to have a home that is safe & sound, but I did move into what was previously my husband’s bachelor pad, so this has been no easy task! I don’t know about you guys, but some days it seems like the most visible ‘decorations’ in our home, consist of doggie-related items. I wish I were talking about things like custom portraits and signs, but I’m referring more to shredded dog toys, misplaced leashes, and food bowls… which is why I was so excited to make friends with Kim, who blogs at Yellow Brick Home. You guys are going to be over the moon when you see her creations…

Yellow Brick Home: The Pet Shop – Custom Pet Portraits

One of their (many!) commissioned portraits. Look at the detail!

One of their (many!) commissioned portraits. Look at the detail!

 

Kim personally creates one-of-a-kind custom artwork of your four-legged family members. You simply send in a few photos of your pet, as well as a brief description of their antics and personality, and Kim produces absolute masterpieces!

How cute are they?!

How cute are they?!

What started out as a portrait made as a gift for her hubby, quickly escalated into a full-fledged, thriving business! Through word-of-mouth, Kim was faced with as much work as she could handle. Inspired by their fur children, Maddie, Libby, Jack, who are all rescues themselves, 10% of the sales go to rescues. As if you needed another reason to love her!

Custom portraits make a great gift solution for those animal-lovers who are especially hard to buy for. Not only that, but they work really well for foster families that want a special way to remember their beloved foster pets, once they have moved onto their new homes. The portraits are done on 5×5 blocks, which can produce a great small gallery look for a wall in your home. Head over to their website to check out the special Valentine’s Day discount they are offering for gift certificates purchased between now and Friday! For most of us, our pets are our favorite topic of conversation… why shouldn’t the art work in our homes feature our four-legged family members? I have big plans for some prints I want to commission of our own pets! Stay-tuned…

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In the mean-time, The Pet Shop has graciously offered to contribute 3 of their Art Prints to our giveaway, to be selected by the winner. Head over to check them out… you will be blown away by the attention to detail and whimsical colors. The animals range from cats and dogs of varying breeds, to wild animals like giraffes and gorillas! I personally think they could make an especially adorable addition to a nursery.

 

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If you find yourself falling in love with some of these precious (low-maintenance!) pets, and think they would make a great addition to your home, simply head here to make a contribution to our fundraiser for our rescue, LCPO. You will be entered to win your choice of 3 prints from The Pet Shop! Remember, our goal is to raise $500, which will all go to helping LCPO save needy pit bulls like our Georgia girl. For each $10 donation you make, you will be entered once to win an array of prizes.

Remember, every day, we will be featuring another generous sponsor. Check back often to see what exciting new prizes we will be adding!

Saving Lives, One Paw at a Time

“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
― Jack London

I will keep things short-and-sweet on this Friday, but wanted to include our readers in a giveaway we are offering! We are taking part in a fundraiser to raise money for our rescue, LCPO, and are asking for your help. Please visit the link below to make a donation in support of us and of our rescue… any amount helps, even just $1 or $5! Our goal is to raise a total of $500 before the 5k in June.

Of course, LCPO saves many pit bulls, just like Georgia, from certain death. However, LCPO does so much more for pit bulls and their owners, including the NEPA Pit Fix Program, which assists owners with the high costs of the essential spay and neuter surgeries. They also have some dogs who are currently in boarding, due to a lack of current foster homes. The organization has numerous expenses every month, and yet rarely turns away an owner or animal in need. Please help them continue to help others. Remember, all donations to LCPO are tax-deductible. Even if you are unable to make a donation, we would appreciate you sharing our fundraising efforts with others!

NOW, here is where it gets exciting. We all know that making a donation fills us with happy thoughts and a warm heart, knowing that we are doing our small part to make a difference. Not only that, but I can guarantee that you will be earning the eternal gratitude of myself, J, Tonka, Gaige, and Georgia! What could be better? I’ll tell you what… an awesome give-away!

Did you say GIVE-AWAY?!

I most certainly did! We aren’t just going to ‘hound’ you for money. (ha ha!) We want you to get something extra out of the deal, as well! Both the highest contributor, as well as one random donator, will earn a special prize from us! Stay tuned next week to find out just what that might be… but trust us when we tell you that this is no rinkadink pen or tee shirt. Each prize is valued at well over $50. In the mean-time, we would greatly appreciate your contribution. Please head to the link below, and donate to help save sweet pups like Georgia. You’re saving lives, people!

Georgia says thanks!!

Georgia says thanks!!

http://www.active.com/donate/lcpo5kracetorescue2/smetan