HOW TO THROW AN ADOPTION PARTY FOR YOUR DOG

November 15, 2016 // - - - - - - - - -

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know that I have the best dog in the world. Hands down, no argument, don’t even try to dispute it because I will win. I’m writing this with him on my lap right now though, so I might be the slightest bit biased.

Back in September, my roommates Bridget and JC realized that our (my partner Zach and I’s) corgi mutt Pixel and their pit bull Tank were adopted on the same day! Years apart, but the same adoptaversary nonetheless. So we couldn’t not throw them a joint party to celebrate the occasion. I am a big advocate for the phrase “Adopt Don’t Buy”, and can’t wait to adopt another once we have enough space in our home. It’s the same sort of mentality for why I don’t want children. If I do decide to have them one day, though, then I will adopt instead of giving birth. It’s best to give an existing life a better one, rather than support the industry that creates a surplus of lives that don’t need to be bred or created in the first place. Did I explain that well? Probably not, so you can read more about why you shouldn’t support pet-trades and puppy mills, and why you should adopt instead, on PETA’s website here.

We invited our friends and their dogs to celebrate with us! Here’s how to throw not just any dog party — but a proper dog party.

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STEP ONE: CREATE YOUR INVITATION.

I created mine by drawing little party hats and other fun doodles on an existing image in Photoshop, but you could probably execute this a lot better. Send the invitation (either digital or print) to your friends, family — and their dogs too, of course! Since it’s 2016, you’ll probably want to create a Facebook event for the party so friends will remember to keep their schedules free.

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STEP TWO: PICK YOUR LOCATION AND THEME. 

We opted to host our party at Friends of Hermon Dog Park, an open space on the outskirts of LA that was pretty deserted. We set up next to a low-hanging tree, which was perfect to hang our banner and balloons from. If your climate and weather allow you to have your party outside, do it! It’s best to give the dogs room to run around and play with one another. If there isn’t a private dog park near you, find a friend with a big backyard and beg and/or blackmail them accordingly.

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STEP THREE: DO ALL YOUR PREP WORK. 

This is really a few steps in one. For the adoptaversary party we made…

  • Monogrammed bandanas
  • Photobooth props
  • A custom pennant banner
  • Loot bags

Here’s how to make ~all of the things~.

CUSTOM BANDANAS: 

You will need…

  • One standard bandana (or more, depending on how many pups you want to make them for). You can also get any fabric that’s 22 inches by 22 inches, which is the standard size for a bandana.
  • Iron-on letters (I got these from Jo-Ann’s but you should be able to find them at any craft store very easily, even the dollar store)
  • Hair straightener (Or an iron, but a hair straightener works better for this size)

How to make it…

  1.  Tie your fabric into a standard bandana style (here), fitting it specifically to the dog in question.
  2. Cut out the iron-on letters for whatever you’re spelling out. Cut them as closely as possible, while making sure they’re still legible. If you’re using particularly small letters, use an X-ACTO knife instead of scissors to do this step.
  3. Figure out exactly where you’re going to put the letters and space them out. Ideally, the letters should be on the side of the bandana (see photo reference below).
  4. Heat up your hair straightener/iron.
  5. Place one letter on the bandana. Iron letter on in that spot, holding straightener/iron clamped in same spot for at least 20 seconds to secure it while being careful not to burn fabric.
  6. Repeat step 5 for rest of letters. Touch up all letters at the end if need be.

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PHOTOBOOTH PROPS:

Use my existing tutorial here, but swap the bridal motifs to things like dog snouts and “Woof” speech bubbles.

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CUSTOM PENNANT BANNER:

You will need…

  • Thick card stock
  • Black marker
  • String or twine
  • Tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue

How to make it…

  1. Decide what you want to write on your banner. I chose our dogs’ names but feel free to mix it up, as long as you choose something short, sweet and personal.
  2. Using card stock, a pencil and a ruler, draw out an isosceles triangle (two long sides and one shorter side, nerd).
  3. Cut this out carefully, then use it as a stencil to trace out as many triangles as you have letters/symbol in whatever you’re spelling out, one triangle for each. For example, “Pixel & Tank” took 10 triangles.
  4. Fold over the top edge of the triangle — about half an inch.
  5. Add line of glue, then glue string in place.
  6. Repeat step #5 for rest of triangles, in order of how the letters should be.
  7. Let dry.

TL, DR: You can also buy a basic pennant already made and write the letters directly on it. You’ll have to create your phrase in correspondence with how many triangles are already on the pennant this way.

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LOOT BAGS:
As far as the loot bags go, fairly straightforward — Bridget got colorful paper bags from Target, filled them with a treat and chew toy each, then sealed with a pink ribbon.

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STEP FOUR: ENJOY THE PARTY!

Take lots of photos, play party games, and have a doggone good time.

Another great thing to incorporate into your party is dog-friendly cake or cupcakes. I was planning on making some, we just didn’t have enough time the day before. You can make them yourself following an online recipe like the one for these, or a lot of dog boutiques tend to offer baked goods nowadays too. Be sure to also bring…balloons, more tape, a tablecloth, dog toys, blankets, folding chairs, a portable music player, and lots of snacks/beverages to keep guests (human or other) satisfied throughout the party. And poop bags — seriously, we almost forgot to bring extra ones and it would’ve been a disaster.

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HOW I MOVED TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY IN 3 WEEKS

August 17, 2016 // - - - - - - - - -

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I don’t even know where to begin, really.

I haven’t published anything on here in a couple weeks, which at first glance probably looks lazy. But considering I’ve packed up my life and moved to a different country on a whim, it’s not that bad.

I moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of August. I accepted a job offer, gave two weeks notice at my office, trained my replacement, got out of my lease, sold/tossed/Bunz traded most of my belongings, moved out of my apartment, prepared a *lot* of paperwork, booked a one-way plane ticket, threw a going away party, got my visa and then moved to the United States. This all happened in the second half of July. Things haven’t entirely hit me yet, so maybe that’s why I’ve been putting off talking about it in detail.

A lot of friends and followers have been asking questions about the move — both out of genuine support and for personal gain — understandably, since Canadians are often looking to move across the border and vice versa. So I thought the best way to address it would be to write out an in-depth explanation that doubles as a blog post. Get your body ready, because this is a long one!

HOW DID I MOVE?

I got a job offer. There’s no way around it, so if you’re reading this hoping I’ve found some sort of loophole in the American immigration system…sorry! You need to have a job offer, be married to a citizen or attend school here.

I have a TN-1 visa, which coincides with NAFTA and is what I’d recommend looking into if you’re Canadian and have gotten a job offer in the states. It’s a temporary work visa which means I won’t be here forever. But it’s made Los Angeles home, at least for the time being.

WHAT AM I DOING HERE?

I’m working for FHY INC, doing all things digital for Ferrecci USA! It’s a men’s formal wear line, so not *exactly* my forte but I’m already acclimating well. They have some killer accessories that I’ve been incorporating into my wardrobe and embracing an androgynous look with, like the black ranger hat I’m sporting in Silver Lake below. I’ll also be getting back to my freelance hustle as soon as I possibly can — more on that later.

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WHY DID I MOVE? 

I could say I moved solely for my career, but that wouldn’t be honest.

Around this time last summer, I was working my first “real” job after graduating from university. After 3 months I had grown accustomed to my day-to-day routine. Then I found out a week before my contract was due for renew that it wasn’t being extended, and suddenly my future looked unsure. Responsibility-free, I impulsively booked a trip to tour the west coast by myself and left a few days later. I climbed a mountain in Vancouver, failed to find Frasier Crane in Seattle and got chased by gutter punks at sunset in Portland. My trip ended in Los Angeles, where I fell for somebody after 5 days. He and I have been together ever since.

Yuck! Gross! Cut to a vomit-inducing scene from a rom-com featuring a couple crying at an airport, but that’s what happened. We stayed together despite the distance, while he looked into moving to Canada. He ran into some visa issues on his end, so that plan fizzled out. Things were left up in the air for a long time, and then I started considering making the move on my end instead. I initially didn’t want to even think about leaving my friends, my family and everything I’d ever associated with the feeling of “home”. 

But then I started really looking into it and weighing my options. I work full-time in social media and digital marketing, and that field has so many more opportunities in Los Angeles compared to Toronto. Out of curiosity, I applied for a few positions in Los Angeles — and I heard back from multiple, despite living 4000 miles further than most applicants. From a career perspective, it makes sense for me to be here. I’ve heard Los Angeles equally referred to as “the land of broken dreams” and “the land of opportunity”, but I’m going to stay positive and believe solely in the latter. 

As a going away present to myself, I got a little tattoo on my arm that my friend Brian drew. It feels symbolic for this next phase of my life, exploring foreign territory and all. 

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WHAT’S GOING TO CHANGE?

  • Less materialism. I moved here with two suitcases and ditched the rest. I’m no packrat, but that whole process sucked way more than I thought it would. Anything I really need, I can always replace as I go.
  • More self-care. The sunshine has already persuaded me into getting back into running, and I’m going to figure out what the heck Bikram yoga is.
  • Less of a ballin’ lifestyle and more packed lunches. Los Angeles is pretty expensive, which I low key knew but apparently was in denial about.
  • My blog Vegan Girlfriend will keep on keepin’ on, but is now being coordinated internationally. Aine and Alex will be holding down the fort in Toronto, while I build our footprint in Los Angeles’ vegan community.
  • Less illustrations, including both personal and freelance pieces. It’s a temporary hiatus, I swear! I don’t have a desk or a scanner right now, and I’m already going stir crazy without having that outlet. I tried to switch fully to digital overnight and drew some very sad looking tacos, so I’m hoping to figure out a solution ASAP.

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IMMIGRATION TIPS:

1. Get an immigration lawyer. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people try to do it on their own. You can set up an initial call or meeting with them to discuss your options, and usually won’t have to commit to a fee until you’re ready to proceed with your visa application. Additionally, having a job offer might not be good enough, which a lawyer will help you determine. The visa I have only covers certain job types, and you need to be able to prove that you’re qualified for it. You want to work alongside an immigration lawyer so they can make sure your paperwork is in order. The last thing you want is to have your visa rejected last minute due to a minor wording issue, which happened to a friend of mine.

2. Budget. Make sure you can afford to make this kind of move before committing. Consider factors like hiring movers, shipping existing furniture vs. buying new furniture, rental deposits, a plane ticket, health insurance, transportation and taxes. The exchange rate is something to keep in mind, too.

3. Take everything into consideration. If you haven’t visited the city that you’re moving to in person, do some extensive research. For example, I’d been to LA before so I knew that not being able to drive would be problematic (a non-issue in Toronto). I prepared accordingly by checking bus routes and comparing Uber rates.

4. Figure out what you can’t do in advance, and what you’ll need to do right when you land. In the 48 hours following my move I set up a new phone plan, applied for a social security number and sorted out health insurance.

5. Exercise and get lots of sleep. It may sound silly but trust me, this process is insanely stressful and you need to look after your body so you don’t spontaneously combust. I had so many panic attacks that I felt like I was 17 again.

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I’m settled in, for the most part. Things feel strange…in a good way? I’ve felt very homesick (Miss you, Mum) but it has only been two weeks so I’m sure it’ll get easier. I’m sad but at the same time very content. I wrote a good chunk of this nestled next to my boyfriend, two roommates and two dogs while watching John Oliver and eating tortilla chips. It’s crazy how quickly things can change. For comparison: I have a piece drafted with the title “A Room Of One’s Own” à la Virginia Woolf from two months ago all about how much I loved having an entire apartment to myself. That will likely never get posted now, but that’s okay. Because like I said…I’m content.

A ROADTRIP TO CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

June 9, 2016 // - - - - - - - - - -

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I’ve grown quite accustomed to divvying my time between Toronto and Los Angeles. My partner resides there and, as long distance relationships often go, you both split your life in two to create parallel lives together. Both places feel like home to me in very different ways. In Toronto, I’m the workaholic that I’ve spent years building myself up to be. In Los Angeles, my desires are to eat, explore and see as many new things as possible. The idea of being able to hop into a car and drive across the state, getting glimpses at vastly different cultures in each small town you stop in, is something I’d never experienced before I travelled there.

So that’s exactly what we did. During my most recent week-long visit, we made a relatively impromptu decision to pack up and take off with Zach’s rescue pup Pixel for a weekend trip along the coast. We spent the drive listening to basketball podcasts, eating salty snacks and stopping every so often to watch the waves.

Scroll down for a list of my favourite spots that I discovered in Los Angeles and central California this time around. 

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-Dinosaur Coffee in Silver Lake. Really good Americanos, charming baristas and their drink menu casually boasts “Butts Butts Butts!” without any explanation, the latter of which which sealed the deal for me. The back wall features a floor-to-ceiling art installation mixing gathered hanging fabrics and neon pink typography. 

-Santa Barbara County Courthouse. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and afterwards plopped ourselves on a large patch of grass outside of the County Courthouse, an eye-catching building with Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. We lounged there on a sunny Saturday afternoon, so multiple wedding parties were trying to take group photos at the same time. Plump infants in frilly dresses kept waddling over to play with Pixel, soon chased by whichever uncle was supposed to be watching them. Bonus points for the all-pink-everything floral boutique I spotted across the street.

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My Airbnb in San Luis Obispo. San Luis Obispo is a small town that was nicknamed “the Happiest City in America” by Oprah and lives up to its well-deserved reputation. We stayed in an AirBNB that “quirky” doesn’t even begin to describe. Every corner of this open-concept loft (ceilings and floors included) held something unusual, whether it be the fridge covered in a collage of celebrity faces, the Barbie dolls sitting on the bathroom shelves, or the dozens of licence plates decorating the walkway up to the house itself. Despite its eccentricities, it instantly felt like home to me and I slept much better than I usually do. I felt strangely sentimental leaving the next morning, and gave our host Pete a tight goodbye hug. 

Venice Beach Boardwalk. Self explanatory.

SunCafe in Culver City. Best vegan spot I’ve hit up in Los Angeles so far, with the exception of Shojin Sushi and probably Hugo’s Tacos too (those churros, though). We went for lunch here after hiking up behind the Hollywood sign, so we were covered in dirt but served with kindness nonetheless. I can honestly say that they have the best green smoothie I’ve ever, ever had, and that any I’ve had since has been disappointing. 

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Bishop Peak in San Luis Obispo. We hiked up a volcanic plug and took in a beautiful view of the town. I kept pausing along the way to remind myself of where I was and to appreciate every moment. I climbed a big boulder at the very top of the peak and carefully posed for a rap squat photo on top of it. Photo intentionally not included in this post.

Upstairs Bar at the ACE Hotel in downtown LA. When we got to the bar around sunset, the first thing I saw was a girl in a bikini, splashing around the pool by herself and having the time of her life. That’s a sentence that would be pretty much non-existent back in Toronto. LA is weird, you guys, but wonderful in its own way. 

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Anything you’d add to my list? Tell me in the comment section below! And for more photos from my trip, follow me on Instagram here.

  • Hi, I'm Megan! I'm a lifestyle blogger, social media specialist, illustrator, writer and vegan recipe maker-upper based in Toronto. Let's work together: megstulberg@gmail.com.
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