Doggy daycare

Opals daycare

Opal & her friends at daycare

I have had Opal since she was 8 weeks old. I visited her since the day after she was born. She is my baby, my puppy and my best mate. Some people laugh when I say Opal goes to day care, some dog owners ask lots of questions about it and others get excited and tell me all about their dog’s day-care. It may sound like a silly concept, but I view it the same as putting your child into day-care. It is a place where your darlings can go during the day to socialise with other babies/dogs, have naps, get exercise and learn to take instructions from other carers.

I initially looked into day-care as the section Opal had at home wasn’t as big as I would like for her – she is a very energetic dog and being cooped up isn’t fair and can lead to bad behaviours (such as digging and excessive barking) driven from boredom. I talked to other dog owners I met at Day’s park – our local off-lead exercise area – about the places they sent their dogs, and I went to visit day-care’s available in Hamilton. The key things I was looking for in a day-care included:

  • A large GRASS area that dogs are free to run around and play in
  • Dogs who clearly liked and respected the carers
  • A variety of dogs, sexes, breeds, and ages to socialise with.
  • Carers that I got on with and treated dogs how I like mine treated

Doggy day-care is quite popular now and there have been a few new companies opening over the last 6-12 months in Hamilton especially. I had sent Opal to a day care for a few weeks three years ago however as I was studying it wasn’t financially viable at the time for me to continue sending her there. It just so happened when I was researching day-cares this time I contacted one that was recommended by my workmate – that runs from a property in Ngaruawahia (2minutes from my workplace) and they remembered Opal from her last day-care stint! They had changed venues and now had developed into two separate components – one for small dogs and the other for medium – large dogs.

 

Afternoon siesta at daycare

Afternoon siesta at daycare

I looked at three main day-cares in Hamilton. One was indoors and had concrete floors which turned me off it as this isn’t a natural grounding for dogs to run on all day. It had lots of wooden built structures which I also don’t think is a natural environment for dogs (although I imagine it could be quite fun!).  While talking with other dog owners at obedience classes, I came across one who was sending their dog to this particular place. He was a very active Border Collie who runs all day and sadly because of the concrete floors after his second day when he was picked up he could barely walk as his paw pads had been ripped up from the concrete. So that confirmed my choice against the indoor day-care as again Opal is a very active dog who enjoys racing around playing with other dogs for majority of the day.

The second day-care was inconvenient to drop Opal off to as it was on the other side of Hamilton. K9 Country Club – the one I was recommended by my workmate – their drop off point was next to Days park which was just around the corner from my house at the time. I organised a site visit to this day-care, met the carers, the owner and the other dogs who would be attending on one of the days I was looking at sending Opal. What I liked about this day-care was they have a minimum attendance requirement of two days a week to ensure the dogs get to know the routines and settle in with the other dogs on their days. It makes sense – it would be scary meeting 30 new dogs every week and just getting used to them after one day then having to meet a whole new 30 next week. It’s not how we make friends in the real world and it’s hard for dogs to work out their hierarchy every day with new dogs.

K9CC has a four week trial period to ensure that your dog fits in with the other dogs and the routines. Opal successfully passed this trial period and has been attending for seven months now. The owner, managers and workers are fantastic and Opal adores them. She gets very excited every time we get near the drop off point and wants to get straight in the van. I think this is an extremely good sign – if she loves it, I love it. They were also very flexible with Opal when I moved house and had to rearrange my finances. I decided during this period that Opals daycare was a priority for me as she loved it and it does wonders for her social skills and general well-being.

Another thing I love about K9CC is that they regularly put up photos and videos of the dogs playing at daycare (or in Opals case napping!) on their Facebook page so I can see what fun Opal is having on her days there. She was even lucky enough to share a doggy birthday cake when it was Navy’s birthday! Check it out and if you’re thinking about putting your dog into daycare I highly recommend K9CC, it’s definitely value for money and peace of mind in my opinion – Opal is a much happier dog for going there.

 

*Photos care of K9CC

Nap time at K9CC

Nap time at K9CC

Opal at doggy daycare

Opal posing at doggy daycare

 

What do I want to be when I grow up?

Growing up

This seems to be a reoccurring question; when you are little and can be anything you imagine, as you get to high school when you are choosing which subjects to study, when you finish high school and need to decide your next path, when you finish university – where will you start your career. As time goes on more and more of your life choices depend on how you answer this question. Believe me as you enter your 20’s and ask yourself this question frequently, and have others constantly asking, it starts to sound bewildering.

Growing up I always thought the pathway was: complete high school, attend university & gain a degree, get a job in the field you studied and build a career in that line of work. When I finished high school that was a daunting thought – I have to choose right now what job I want to do for the rest of my life! Of course I went with my favourite subject at high school – PE. As I was an avid sports player throughout high school it just seemed a natural path to follow. However after two years of studying a Sports and Exercise Science degree I was asking everyone in my class what they wanted to do when they finished. Majority of my classmates said “become a PE teacher” or “become a personal trainer”.  As I was still quite young and a little naïve my thinking was, “well that doesn’t sound like me for the rest of my life”. I didn’t realise that just because most people wanted to follow two main careers, there was a lot more available using this degree. Unfortunately as I came to that conclusion I withdrew from my degree with only one year to go, and went to work in hospitality while I figured out what my new career path would be. Now what do I want to be when I grow up?

Well after 5 years of working in various roles in hospitality I decided waitressing and bartending were not the career paths that I wanted. One of my waitressing roles expanded into assisting with planning weddings and functions. I loved the events planning side of this role and decided now that this could be a career I would really enjoy. At the time I was looking for fulltime jobs and it was a requirement to have a degree before anyone would consider hiring you. As I was just shy of completing my sports degree I chose to go back to university and do a degree in what I now enjoyed – event management.

At the time the only degree at Waikato University that offered any event management papers was the Bachelor of Communications, so naturally this is what I chose to study.

As I was in the last months of completing my degree majoring in marketing and public relations I again asked myself “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Now I have a degree what will I do with it? What career does this mean for me? Still thinking that your degree will lead to a career in the industry of what you studied.

Well after temping full time for a variety of businesses for three months, and a large amount of interviews for marketing jobs, I weighed up my options again. If I was to follow what I thought was the right path – working in the industry I studied – I would have to get a marketing job in Auckland. This meant changing my whole life just to get a job. I could potentially get paid a higher starting salary than what was on offer in Hamilton, however that would mean having a higher cost of living and leave all my friends and the lifestyle I was used to in Hamilton behind.

Again the question came up “what do I want to be when I grow up?” After asking yourself this question multiple times in a few years it starts to get scary when you still haven’t figured it out. It gets harder when your family starts asking year after year, reminding you you’re getting older and won’t have the same job opportunities much longer.

I am turning 27 this year and have finally come to terms with the fact that it is okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. I now have a full-time permanent job that I love, I’m still in Hamilton with my friends and living the same convenient lifestyle (15 minutes or less to drive anywhere in Hamilton!). There is progression available in my job and there are opportunities for further study and potential to move into other areas within my organisation, so the future looks bright.

I have always wanted to have a business of my own and still haven’t quite decided exactly what that will be. I do know I want to get into property investing – whether that be my main business or a supplement to another business I am not yet sure. I am happy within myself that I have a secure job and goals for future career choices. I have options and as I was told when I was younger “the world is your oyster”.

So as I am approaching 30 I am comfortable that it’ll be okay, the world won’t end because I don’t have ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ sorted by then. Coming into the workforce and talking to others in my organisation I realised that thinking a career was a one track journey is actually unrealistic. Yes, it may work for some people, but majority of people have moved around doing different jobs and roles over their lifetimes before they settled into what they are doing now. I even know some people that are in their 50’s and still don’t know what they want to be and yet they have lived a full and happy life on their journey trying to figure it out.

I guess I am writing this to let you know that while you are stressing about ‘what next’ with the pressure you can put on yourself, especially in your 20’s, to figure it out – it’s okay. As long as you are doing something you are on the right path. Each choice you make opens up other opportunities and can lead to a world of options. You are still young and there is still time, so don’t let it get you down.

Everything happens for a reason – whatever will be will be, if it’s meant to be it will – that is my ‘motto’ if you will. I live by that and it has worked for me this far in my life. It means I take responsibility for my decisions, I accept that everything happens for a reason and I believe as long as I learn a lesson from each decision or the results of my decision and do something to ensure it changes my future opinions/actions that is good way to live.

Sauteed Beetroot Greens

I have been dabbling in growing a few different vegetables in my garden over the last few months, one of which is beetroot.

It has taken a while for the beetroot to grow to an edible size but they were finally ready last week!

I was going to a friends house for lunch and as I was brought up to always bring something to share when I go to someone else’s house (thanks mum) I decided I would make a raw beetroot salad. I shall write that recipe up soon as it is also delicious, however this post is about what I made with the beetroot stalks.

As I cut the stalks off the beetroot and was about to throw them into the compost bin I suddenly thought ‘surely there must be something I can make with these?’ It seemed such a waste to throw away so much of a vegetable!

Raw beetroot

Raw beetroot

My good friend Google came to the rescue and I found a delicious recipe that I’m going to share with you all so no-one has to waste beetroot greens again!

The original recipe was called: Sautéed beet leaves with coconut milk & capers, however I didn’t have capers so mine is minus the capers. I must give credit to themindfulfoodie for this delicious recipe!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 5 cups (~500g) shredded beet leaves & chopped stems
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • sea salt to taste
  • squeeze of lemon

Method:

In a wide and deep fry pan, heat oil and sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté briefly before adding the beet leaves. Stir continually.

Once the leaves have wilted add the coconut milk. Saute for a couple more minutes, then turn off stove. Season and squeeze over some lemon juice.

(Note: the dish is not meant to be saucy — the milk evaporates off. If you would like it to be creamy, just add more coconut milk.)

Sauteed Beetroot Greens

Sauteed Beetroot Greens

I hope you give this a try as it really is delicious and full of nutrition. The greens are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium.

Waffles – Tupperware style

I woke up and felt like something different for breakfast/brunch. I decided that I would like to try out my new Tupperware silicone waffle mold. I haven’t had waffles before and also don’t bake often so this was an exciting little adventure for me!

Tupperware Waffles with frozen berries and yoghurt

Waffles with frozen berries and yoghurt

I like to watch youtube recipes as I’m more visual and learn best by doing, also there is less chance I can go wrong. This is the waffle recipe video I used – note: it’s in English and Spanish and makes approximately 10 waffles. Here is a handy conversion chart that I referred to a bit (some of the measurements in the video are US imperial).

As you can see below I am slowly building up my Tupperware collection; becoming a hobby demonstrator has helped get even more products cheaper. Getting some of the products through earning incentives also made me want to practice more cooking and baking as there are some fabulous recipes that can be demonstrated at parties to help show the many uses of the products.

Waffle ingredients

Waffle ingredients

Ingredients:

3 Eggs

410mls milk (approx 2 cups)

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

110g (1/2 cup) butter

2 Tbsp sugar

Note: for those like me who don’t bake often tsp = teaspoon, Tbsp = tablespoon.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk.

Tip: crack each egg into a cup first before adding into the main bowl – just in case the egg is less than desirable – it saves ruining all of your other ingredients. 

Eggs added to Tupperware 'That's a Bowl'

Eggs added to Tupperware ‘That’s a Bowl’

Add in the melted butter and milk while whisking.

Sift in the flour and continue whisking whilst adding in salt, sugar and baking powder.

Completed Tupperware waffle mixture

Completed Tupperware waffle mixture

Tip: Ensure the Tupperware silicone waffle mold is on a sturdy tray before transferring to the oven.

Pour in the mixture – just covering the raised bits.

Waffle mixture added to Tupperware silicone mold

Waffle mixture added to Tupperware silicone mold

Place into a preheated oven and cook until crispy golden on top.

Using oven mits, or a tea towel take out the silicone waffle mold and tip out the waffles onto a plate.

Tupperware waffles

Finished waffles

Add toppings of your choice. I used melted chocolate, plain yoghurt, frozen mixed berries (slightly defrosted in the microwave jug) and golden syrup.

Melted Chocolate in Tupperware Microwave jug

Melted Chocolate in Tupperware Microwave jug

 

Finished product:

Tupperware Waffles with frozen berries and yoghurt

Waffles with frozen berries and yoghurt

Finishing My Degree

The final weeks of my university came up so fast. All of a sudden I had been at university for 3 years; made a lot of friends, absorbed a whole lot about marketing and communications from my lecturers and made the most of opportunities that were available to me as a student. I became the president of the communications club for my final year and through that I gained a lot of experience in organising events and gained insights into the working world of communications careers.

It is quite a daunting thought to know that the way of living you have known for a significant portion of your life is now over and life as you know it will change forever! The end of an era! In saying that it is also extremely exciting; like beginning a new adventure.

Looking back at my time at university I am grateful to all those in my life that helped me gain as much as possible from my studies. Lecturers, my bosses and workmates, industry professionals, and classmates all offered their own advice or assistance and were part of my journey being a student which helped me to make the most of the opportunities that were around – even if I didn’t see them as opportunities initially.  Meeting such a variety of people who all have different ways of studying, opinions on subjects and levels of academic learning gave me amazing insights into how people work and what works for me. During this time I learnt an incredible amount about myself, my abilities and the potential I have. By studying I learned different skills including time management, working with a variety of people, expectations from others in all different aspects of my life and how to create a good work life balance. I found it very important especially as the assignments were bigger and worth more that I set aside “me” time, where I could just watch a movie or go out to dinner with friends and not feel guilty for not using that time to study. I am the kind of person who likes to say “yes” often. Yes I can run that club, yes I can manage that sports team, yes I can work part time, yes I can study full time, yes I can look after children and pets, yes I can fit in time with my friends. So many YES’s that it took me a while (and someone blatantly telling me) to realise that it is okay and sometimes preferable for both parties to say NO!

In reflection the main learning’s I have from my university days (at this stage) are:

1. Work/life/study balance is extremely important. Make the time to spend with your friends and family/pets without distractions, when you study – make sure it is effective; minimise procrastination. Work when you can and learn as much as you can from your workmates – they will help you when it comes to the real world and working full time – whether it’s simply as a referee on your CV or networking to get you a job, or making suggestions on how you could use your degree and work experience to create a career – other people see and think very differently so always be open to hearing their thoughts.

2. Take as many opportunities as you can (without overloading yourself). Being a student is a huge advantage when it comes to opportunities and networking. People love to help you when you are showing initiative and helping yourself. The more events you can attend, clubs you can be part of, and people you can meet the better off you are – these people all have knowledge and wisdom that could help you in any aspect of your life in the future so be sure to build networks and keep in contact – don’t burn any bridges! Even you fellow classmates could be in a position that could be beneficial to your family or career in the future so keep your options open. My mum always said ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ and the older I get the more I realise that is completely true! So network your heart out – practice and learn how to do it well, it will put you in good stead for the rest of your life!

3. Become friendly with your lecturers and tutors. As well as building them into your network, this is helpful during your years at uni, as I mentioned earlier – people are happy to help when they see you are helping yourself. If you show you are trying and interested in the paper then lecturers and most tutors will go above and beyond to help you when you ask. If you never come to class and are always late handing in assignments there is a very minimal chance you will get a grace period, even if your car really did “break down” on the day of your presentation. I was lucky enough to get extensions on a few assignments because I knew the lecturers well and was attending events that were assisting my studies and benefiting my career possibilities. The lecturers wouldn’t have thought twice about giving me a fail if I hadn’t been an “active participant” in my own learning. (I’ve seen it happen to others who don’t care and are of the mindset that ‘C’s get degree’s”. Well they may get a degree but they won’t help you get a good job,  or a career!

4. Take risks – put yourself in situations that normally would scare you – you never know what you may achieve from it. Of course I mean this in a safe learning environment! For example as an elective paper I took ‘Public Speaking and Professional Speech writing’. I get nervous when I talk in front of people – whether I know them or not, so this was a challenge for me. However, I knew a lot of the other people in the class were feeling the same and I figured that it would be a good way to learn techniques of how to prepare speeches effectively, and deal with nerves in a tough environment so when it came to doing it in a job (for example if I needed to pitch to a client) I would have these skills to call upon. Interestingly enough I found this paper was helpful in preparing for interviews and talking to the interviewer as it is somewhat a practiced speech, just occasionally the questions are worded differently. This speech class also made me feel more comfortable and in control when I was cold calling companies to organise trips for my club and when I had to speak at our AGM and other events.

5. Grammar is key. This not only helps you get better marks in your assignments, but also makes you look professional in other areas of your life. It definitely improves the chances of your CV being considered when applying for jobs too. Spelling is a personal pet hate of mine and I happen to notice it everywhere – on websites, even in books I read (which I thought had their own editor + computers these days have spell checkers!), the worst is from schools of education though – you think that if they are going to teach you then they would at least be able to spell properly! I can’t understand how someone can grade you on grammar and spelling when their own instructions have errors in it… Writing, grammar and spelling – learn how to do it well was the advice I received from every communications professional I visited throughout my time with MCSA. So take the time to edit and proof-read, you will be surprised at how much you notice after even just an hour of not working on an assignment and for this reason…

6. Be prepared – start assignments early. As early as you can write a mind map (brainstorm), do your first draft, second draft, third draft and final draft. Then take a look at the difference in quality between your first and final pieces – you will see the effort that went in pays off in the end. Also pay attention to the marking schedule – lecturers use this as a guide, so to ensure you are answering the right questions use this as your guide. Trust me it makes a huge difference and the lecturers will notice, both if you have or haven’t used it.

To conclude – finishing university is bittersweet. I am no longer a “poor” uni student, however, with that I now have a much stricter daily schedule and less “holidays”. I enjoyed my time being a university student and all the experiences and friends/networks I built during my time studying. I am also extremely excited as my hard work for the last 3.5 years paid off; the piece of paper telling me I had completed my degree and could now apply to graduate (and the one saying I had been accepted to graduate) came in the mail – so it’s official, I have a degree!! I also got offered a full-time permanent job which I start on Monday – the first step in my career and the beginning of a new chapter in my life. So while I am going to miss the lifestyle of a student, I am looking forward to being a “grown up” in the real workforce.

Degree: Check

Degree: Check

I hope that my advice helps, and I would love to hear if you have any of your own to add!

Fieldays 2014

This year was my first time working at the field days at Mystery Creek. For those of you who haven’t been before this is a big event (in NZ standards) that attracts over 120,000 people each year to look at farming equipment. It has expanded into luxury items for the farmers wives so they can enjoy coming to the field days too.

Like I said, this year it was my first time working there – I thought it would be a good way to make some money in between university finishing and finding a full time job. I actually got a lot more out of this job than I was expecting. I learnt some sales skills, sold a new product (the eye massager!), met a lot of great people and was absorbed into culture that is Fieldays.

I am a people person so the highlight of this event for me was meeting so many people from different stalls; people from all over NZ had come to showcase their products. I was selling the Eye Massager, a first time product in NZ, across from my stall was one of three Ruahini port stands and around the corner was possom boots, and NewGen liquorice. During the course of the week I managed to talk to these stand owners along with a variety of others.

The Ruahini port is made from fresh fruit and is unlike any other port you have tried! They had plum, blueberry, boysenberry, blackberry and cherry flavoured port, along with port sippers (which work the opposite to wine glasses – wine likes to be aerated while port tastes better if it is sipped from the bottom) that looked to me like a cats body and the sipper is the tail!

Ruahini port sipper fieldays 2014

Ruahini port sipper

Other than the actual quality of the product (coming from someone who didn’t like port – I am now in love with these flavoured ports!), the best part about the Ruahini team is their passion for their company and their team. Damon is the creator/port maker and he ooozes love for the entire process and every person that has helped him on the journey. The whole teams passion was infectious, their stalls did extremely well and I believe part of that is because they have the stories to back up every part of their company. Alisha – Damons wife – is the artist who created the animal paintings that are a strong part of their brand and are on each port label.

Ruahini port fieldays 2014

Plum & Boysenberry ports

The reason I enjoyed this Fieldays so much is because I was surrounded mostly by NZ business owners who had put their life into their products and were extremely proud to share their stories and any advice – which to a young uni graduate is super exciting and helpful! Of course along with the stall owners, I talked to a tonne of customers who tried out the Eye Massager – when you love people and love talking this is a great job!

The Eye Massager sounds strange however, it is an amazing product; it uses air pressure to target acu-pressure points around your face. I used it at least once every day and boy, does it relax you! Keep an eye out for these products!! They are worth every cent.

Eye Massager Fieldays 2014

Eye Massager

Eye Massager set-up fieldays 2014

Eye Massager set-up

 

 

That was just a quick recap on my first experience working at Fieldays 2014 and why I would recommend it to any student. It is a fantastic ground to network with a large variety of people and you never know where one conversation may lead in your future!

Hiatus – I’ve been on a break

You may have noticed the lack of posts recently…I have been on a break from blogging as I have just finished University classes and have finally reached the end of my degree. I have been dedicating all my spare time to completing my final assignments, studying for exams, and looking for a full time job. This is a busy time so I would just like to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you I’m just on a temporary hiatus!

I have a few ideas in the pipe lines for my next posts so bear with me and when I get a spare moment I will share all my adventures over the past few weeks with you!