Small Business Feature: Letters by Angelie (With a Giveaway!)

As a small business owner, one of my favorite things is collaborating with like-minded business owners who have the same passion and drive to make their dreams a reality. We learn so much from each other – our ups, downs, inspirations, and what keeps us going, because being an Entreprenuer is REALLY hard.

This week, I am proud to partner with Melissa Portell of Letters by Angelie, a dog-loving business inspired by her late Boston Terrier, Angely.  She creates water color and acrylic pet portraits, as well as stickers, prints, t-shirts and pins. Read her story below, and then keep scrolling for an awesome giveaway!
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“Letters by Angelie sounds like a simple title, but it has a deeper meaning for me.

My dog passed away on October 2, 2017. She was a fourteen year old Boston Terrier. I used to call her “my sweet partner”. I got her when I was fifteen years old and wanted to name her Angel, but living in Puerto Rico meant that it is a “boy’s name” so I had to change it to Angely.

We were two peas in a pod. Everyone that knew me knew her. She was always by my side (literally) and with me through the different stages in my life. It was hard for me to put away her things because it was as if she never existed. I kept her collar and other things to remember her by. Now that she’s gone, the new people that I meet will never know her.

Angely will always have a special place in my heart for fourteen years now, so I found it fitting to incorporate this story into my blog/brand somehow –in honor of “my sweet partner”, Angely. Letters is because of my new journey to explore the lettering world. This idea was born on October 14, 2017.

I officially began on January 5, 2018 with the launch of my blog. Around March this turned into an unplanned business and I embraced it.

I do watercolor and acrylic doodle pet portraits. I sell prints, pins, stickers and t-shirts inspired by Angely.

My most latest services is that I do murals of flowers and cactus. So far I’ve done 3 and my last one was done this past weekend!”

I will launch my online store this Friday, October 12th! Click here to shop!

To find out more about Melissa and Letters by Angelie, check out her interview here: http://www.lettersbyangelie.com/http://www.vaformakers.com/teacher-by-day-artist-by-night-melissa-portell-of-letters-by-angelie/

Check out her blog at  www.lettersbyangelie.com  

Say hi (and follow) on instagram @lettersbyangelie

And now…for the awesome GIVEAWAY!

Letters of Angelie and Sacco Studios are giving one lucky winner two amazing products: A custom, digital portrait of your adorable dog, illustrated by Letters of Angelie, with a background of YOUR CHOOSING! AND…

An awesome “Life is always better with a dog” mug by Sacco Studios, so you can admire it while sipping your favorite beverage.

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All you have to do is head to both our Instagrams (@lettersbyangelie and @saccostudios),  Follow us both, like each post, and comment (on either post) on who would love this gift set (it can be for yourself, we won’t judge!).

Winner will be announced on our Instagram Accounts on Monday, October 15th. GOOD LUCK!

 

Dog-Friendly Spot: Drake’s Dealership

Oakland has become quite the hipster town these days. Unique eats like Thai temples turning into delicious buffet restaurants draw the crowds on Sundays, and Jack London square has a bustling Farmer’s Market.

Then, there’s a car dealership turned restaurant in the heart of the city. This fun and hoppin’ place doesn’t offer much on the outside, but on the inside, you discover a glass enclosed outdoor space perfect for local beer and fresh food with friends.

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There are so many dogs here, it feels like you are required to bring one.

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Trees, fire pits, benches, ivy curving along the brick building, and a side bar overfill this welcoming patio. You could sit here for hours with your favorite pooch.

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Want to put Fido on your lap? No problem? Hanging by your table? Absolutely! On a dog bed you brought from home? Sure, why not?!

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The food is also delicious for us humans. We had the famous “Frito Pie” and one of their famous New Haven “Apizza”, among other things. You also can’t forget their amazing beer, made on site. I highly recommend trying one (or all, let’s be real) of their local brews.

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In case you don’t want to be with the dogs (Who are you?!), head inside to their awesome bar, where you can see all the beer available on tap.

I love how they kept some of the original signage from when Drake’s was actually a dealership.

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So, if you’re ever in the Oakland area, and want to bring your pooch along for some good beer and good food, head to Drake’s! And don’t forget to read this  before you go with your dog to make sure it’s a fun (and safe!) experience for everyone.

Info:

Drake’s Dealership
2325 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 568-2739

Website: drinkdrakes.com

Weekend Laughs

With all the horrible things going on in the world, here’s a little dose of laughter for your weekend, courtesy of the New Yorker, one of my favorite Instagram accounts. Check them out here  @newyorkercartoons.

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New Yorker Cartoon by Peter Steiner, 1990. Credit @newyorkercartoons.

 

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New Yorker Cartoon by Charles Barsotti, from 2011. Credit @newyorkercartoons.

 

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New Yorker Cartoon by Warren Miller, from 1973. Credit @newyorkercartoons.

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New Yorker Cartoon by Alex Gregory, from 2005. Credit @newyorkercartoons.

 

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New Yorker Cartoon by Danny Shanahan, from 2017. Credit @newyorkercartoons.

Monthly Feature: Great Gifts for the German Shepherd Lover

German Shepherds are one of those breeds that I like to admire from far away. Their pointy ears, black and brown coloring, and lustrous fur make them truly beautiful.  While I would love to have one, they need a lot of training, socializing, and tons of exercise, which I could not offer. They are also incredibly smart, as we know, since we see them as police dogs or drug detectors.

I may not be able to have a beautiful German Shepherd by my side, but I can admire all the unique gifts made just for lovers of this breed.

Here are just a few of the many cool gift ideas for your German Shepherd-loving friend, family member, co-worker, whatever!

  1. German Shepherd Gold Necklace: Swap your German Shepherd t-shirt with this simply stated necklace. A subtle way to show your love without looking like a crazy dog lady. Purchase here. $20 and up (Depending on necklace length).
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  2. German Shepherd Return Address Stamp: You’ll want to write letters again when you get this customized mailing stamp. Choose from a variety of custom colors. Purchase here. $31.99 (and up), Etsy.
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  3. German Shepherd Various Breeds Art Print: This adorable print shows the various types of German Shepherds. Comes in a variety of sizes. $20 and up. Purchase here. 
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  4. German Shepherd Stationery Set. Hand drawn by yours truly, these fun note card sets make writing handwritten notes fun again. Purchase here. $12 for a set of 10.
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  5. German Shepherd T-Shirt (Women). If you’re gonna wear a t-shirt with your favorite breed, wear this one, which can be worn stylishly with a pair of white pants. Purchase Here, $25.00.
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  6. German Shepherd Tote Bag: Carry your groceries in style with this fun tote. The sunglasses add a bit of goofiness. Purchase Here, $26.00.
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  7. German Shepherd Coasters, $23.00 for a set of 4. A stylish place to set your favorite cocktail. Purchase here. 
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  8. German Shepherd Mug: The perfect way to drink your morning coffee. I love how the design goes all the way around the mug. The packaging is A+ too!  Purchase here. $21.66.
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  9. German Shepherd Personalized Keychain: This keychain looks more expensive than it actually is. Purchase here. $15.95 (and up).
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  10. German Shepherd Cutting Board: Perfect for the dog AND food lover! Cheese and crackers never looked so good. Click here to purchase. $24.00.
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Going out with your dog: When to take them and when to leave them at home

Shortly after we brought our 8-week old puppy, Gant, home, we were told we needed to socialize him as much as possible. Not only should he interact with other dogs (once he was properly vaccinated), he needed to be exposed to various environments – out at a restaurant, inside a dog-friendly store, in the car, or any place that had a lot of people. This would get him comfortable with different situations, types of people, and noises. It is important for a dog to be able to acclimate to their surroundings.

Since then, we have taken him on cross-country road trips, restaurants, shopping in our local downtown, and many dog-friendly establishments. He loves being with us and we enjoy our outing without having to worry about leaving him at home.

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Gant ready to embark on our cross-country road trip (He’s in the back seat)! 

He loves people, plays with all types of dogs, and is a great traveler. However, when he is attached to a leash, he is more reactive, and doesn’t like dogs invading his personal space.  Not every dog wants to come in contact every time one approaches, nor should they feel obligated or forced to have an introduction.

If you’re like me, you always want to be around your dog, and would love to take them everywhere you go. But is it always a good idea? Sometimes, it’s better for you and the dog to be in his safety zone: home. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you consider taking Fido to your favorite Italian restaurant.

IMG_0851Gant and I at an outdoor, dog-friendly brewery. 

  1. Where are you going? Are you headed to your favorite park? Restaurant in the city? The beach? Think about the space. Can you imagine your dog there? If yes, bring him! If the thought of them being in that environment sounds stressful, leave them at home.
  2. Is the location full of people or serene and quiet? Is there a constant stream of noise (cars, people talking, other dogs, etc.)? Can they handle a lot of noise? Do they get anxious easily? If the answer is yes, don’t stress out you and your dog by taking them to a loud environment.
  3. How long are you going to be gone? Are you out for 2 hours? 6? Pretty much the whole day? If you’re headed to dinner, and you’ll be back in a couple of hours, it may be easier to keep them home. Gone all day? Take him if you think your dog can go everywhere you’re going.
  4. Which goes to my next question: Is the location dog-friendly? Is your favorite deli dog-friendly or have an outdoor patio? If going shopping, can you take your dog into the stores? Do some research on sites like Yelp, which lists whether or not establishments are dog-friendly, or call and make sure they can accommodate you and your pooch.
  5. Can you be attentive at all times? If your dog is reactive when it comes to other dogs, can you always be alert and handle them if a dog approaches?
  6. What’s the temperature outside? This is really important! If it’s extremely cold, let them cuddle with their favorite blanket at home. Sweating from the heat? Your dog is probably sweating too. A lot of dogs, especially breeds with small snouts like Boston Terriers and Pugs, cannot breathe very well in extreme climates. If you know your dog can’t handle the weather, keep them at home!
  7. Are you able to control your dog? Do they listen to your commands? Walk calmly past other dogs? Bark a lot? Think about how well they listen to you on a daily basis. If you’re able to get their attention quickly when a situation arises, your outing will be more enjoyable for both of you.
  8. Respect other dogs and their owner’s personal space. As I previously mentioned, my dog does really well in public, but does not like other dogs invading his personal space if he is on a leash. From what I have read, this is because they are not able to defend themselves because they are restrained. If your dog loves interacting with other dogs, be sure to ask the owner first if you can approach them. They may say no, and if they do, respect their answer and continue on with your day.
  9. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, leave your dog tied outside, in the car, or in one of those new “Dog Parker” boxes, a new concept where dog owners can leave their pooches in a tiny box for up to three hours. When it’s hot, your dog can overheat, if it’s cold, they can develop hypothermia. Would you want to be left alone in a tiny box? I bet the answer is no.
  10. (Last but not least) – When in doubt, leave them at home! If you’re not taking your dog on a walk, the dog park, or somewhere they can easily enjoy some exercise, let them be safe in your climate-controlled home. Enjoy your favorite bar or shopping mall without worrying about what to do with Spot. And if you’re gone for a while, get someone to check in periodically.

I hope this guide is helpful! If you have other tips and tricks, please comment below!

*Disclaimer: The following questions, tips and tricks are based on my own research, working with trainers, and experience with a variety of dogs. I am not nor do I claim to be an expert. I understand there are many dogs who cannot be around other dogs, humans, or be in certain places. Enjoy this guide as a resource and use your best judgement. 

Product Feature: Custom Portraits

You know what’s great about Labor Day weekends? You get a four-day work week! I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. Do you ever feel like the days just pass you by?

With that being said, it’s time for this week’s blog post! Again, how is it THURSDAY?!

Every week I try to come up with a topic that is not only interesting, but brings a new perspective. Things that I would want to read. As I’ve looked through the last 10 blog posts I’ve written (!!!), I realized I haven’t really shown you exactly what type of products Sacco Studios sells. Of course, you can click “Shop” on my website and find out, but I’d like to take a moment and showcase one of my favorite (and popular) products: the custom pet illustration.

I love these because they are unique, personal, and you get some control of how they will look. With every custom illustration, you choose the colors for the background and text, what text you would like on the portrait (the dog’s names, adoption or birthday date, etc.), and the size of the portrait (5×7, 8×8 or 8×10), so it fits perfectly on your wall.

Let’s walk through how easy it is to get a custom pet illustration:

First, select the size you want:

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I offer three separate listings: one for dogs only, one if you have a dog AND a cat, and one for just for cats. The drop-down menu tells you exactly how much each option costs. If you have more than 3 pets, I am happy to work with you, but typically, most people have 1-2 pets. Price includes TWO proofs (so you know it’ll be perfect!), custom colors for the background and text, and of course, your adorable furry family members.

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Then, I ask if you have read the instructions below the listing. The reason I ask this is because I want to make sure you know EXACTLY what to expect, including shipping policies.

Where are the instructions? They are right here, below the listing:

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This is all the information I need in order to get your custom pet illustration started.

After your order has been placed, it’s time to send me photos of your adorable dog(s) (or cat(s))! I prefer they are high resolution, so I can get the little details. Don’t have any good photos? Take some with your phone! We all know you have hundreds of photos of your pet.

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This is an example of a great photo. It’s taken in natural light, both faces are close up, and I can see the little details.

Time to get working! It usually takes me 1-2 days to complete a portrait, depending on the detail of your pet. Here is the photo above translated into an illustration:

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The first proof is the time to look it over and make any changes. I am pretty open when it comes to changing things you want for your portrait. Just ask, and I’ll let you know if I can fix it. I want you to be happy and willing to work with you to make sure your illustration is exactly how you want it (within reason, of course!)

Then, I will send a second proof. This is the last time to make any last adjustments. Typically, I do any “big” changes in the first proof, but I am happy to fix something I initally missed. If you have more changes after the second proof,  there is a small fee for any additional proofs needed. Like I said, I want your portrait to be perfect, but it takes time.

Once you, the customer, is happy, I send it off! I use my Epson Artisan 1430, with Epson Premium Presentation Paper. The quality is amazing – it manages to match the colors exactly how I see them on my computer screen.

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I cut it to size, insert it in a protective sleeve, roll it up and put it in a poster tube. In the past, I have used flat envelopes, but the portraits were getting bent in the mail.

Once shipped, I send a tracking number so you can check the delivery date.

Lastly, frame and enjoy.

You can click on the “Shop” link on my website or click here.

Want to go directly to the pet portraits? Click here for a pet illustration for dogs only, and here for a single cat portrait, and here for cats AND dogs.

As always, I am happy to answer any questions! Remember, I want this to be a positive and fun experience.

 

Local Dog-Friendly Spot: Quantum Leap Winery

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Whenever you move to a new place, it’s a chance to discover the local culture. Exploring restaurants, museums, and all the fun options your city has to offer starts to form on your list of favorites. The ones you keep coming back to, because you know it will always be a good time.

It has only been a few months, but we are slowly adding to our list. After doing some research on things to do (besides Disney), I found a winery that delivers on atmosphere, taste, and hipster approval.

Initially, we imagined the winery as a tiny little tasting room that believed you could grow grapes in Florida. However, as soon as we walked in, we knew it was a gem.

Quantum Leap Winery has a simple, modern facade, with large white letters spelling out their name. There is a spacious outdoor patio, which I can imagine gets crowded on a nice day.

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Image courtesy of quantumleapwinery.com

Inside, you could easily fit a large crowd. It reminds me of a modern gallery, with simple white walls and modern art spaced out strategically.

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The tasting area is the focal point of the room, with plenty of space for patrons to stand and chat with the staff.

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For only $5, you can get a red or white flight (but why not get both for only $10?), or you can mix and match for $1.25 per 1-ounce pour.

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We tried both flights, and loved how each wine was well-rounded, smooth and a little bit fruity. They grow their grapes in California, Washington, and Oregon, and transport them to Orlando to make the wine.

The bottle are priced very reasonably, ranging from $15 – $50 a bottle (only a few at the high-end price). We bought a Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.  Once the weather gets cooler, we’ll be drinking them on our porch.

We can’t wait to go back and bring Gant. And of course bring treats, so he can enjoy the evening, too.  They also have 7 dogs that help run the winery, so if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see one of them during your visit.

Tasting hours are available here: http://www.quantumleapwinery.com

Quantum Leap Winery
1312 Wilfred Drive
Orlando, FL 32803

Featured image courtesy of quantumleapwinery.com

10 Ways to Cope with the Loss of A Pet

When I was in high school, a family friend who lived not too far down the road was moving. When they bought their home, the previous family left behind an adorable orange and white tabby cat, and our friend took care of it, even though they were severly allergic. Because of their allergies, the cat mostly stayed outside.

They decided not to take the cat with them, and asked if we would be interested in taking him in. My parents had never wanted a pet, but this cat charmed his way into their hearts, so we brought him home.

Once he realized he could stay inside, he never wanted to leave. He would sit on any available lap, let you pet him for hours, and just loved being around people. He was the sweetest cat I had ever met.

Just a short of a couple of years later, he got cancer, and there wasn’t anything we could do to treat him. I remember being in the room with the Veterinarian, wiping the endless tears off my face as our dear cat laid there. My mom stood beside me, saying comforting words to the cat and I. You could tell the cat was ready.  I will never forget that cat, as he brought us so much joy, even for just a few short years.

Fast forward to 2014, when my husband and I got our dog, Gant. As I sit here, watching him lay on the carpet, snoring away, I think about how much joy he has brought to our lives. On many occasions, my husband says “The dog has to live forever”.  While it would be amazing to have him with us for the rest of our lives, I know that one day, we’ll be sending our dog to heaven.

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Our dog, Gant.

In honor of our cat, I wanted to write about ways to help cope with the loss of a pet. They become more than just pets; they are family, and sometimes, it is just as difficult to lose an animal as it is a human being.

These tips are not based on any research, they are just ways I’ve found that are comforting, so take them as you will.

1. Take time to grieve. There is no “timeline” for how long you should mourne. Don’t let anyone tell you to “get over it” or “it’s just a dog (or insert pet here)”. I am still mourning my beloved cat and it’s been 16 years.

2. Don’t rush into getting another pet. Working at rescues, I have seen families who have just lost their pet and rushing to get a new one. While it’s great they’re looking to save another animal, sometimes it seems they’re trying to fill a void. You tend to start comparing that to your previous one, which is not fair to you or the pet. Take your time, heal, and wait until you are emotionally ready to bring another animal into your life.

3. Talk to other people who have lost a pet. Talking to others who have gone through the same experience of loss really helps. You can vent, ask them how they have grieved (or are grieving), and what they are doing to move while cherishing the memories.

4. Get a journal. All through high school, I would write in my journal everyday. I loved pouring my thoughts into something that was private and only mine. I probably went through 7 journals. Write a letter to your pet. Tell them how you’re feeling. It may sound silly, but they are listening.

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5. Send a sympathy card (This one is for friends and family to do). Sending a card to someone who has lost their pet is a perfect way to send your sympathies and let them know you’re thinking of them. Here are some great options: Option 1  And Option 2

6. Get a touching tribute. Honor your favorite pet by getting a custom portrait, a cute necklace, or an inspirational quote. You’ll have something you can look at everyday and will hopefully help you rememer the good times you had with that pet. Here are some examples: Example 1 and Example 2.

7. Get involved. There are so many dog rescues who need your help. Use your talents to help with photography, design flyers, or spend an hour or two walking a dog. For me, this really heals my soul whenever I can help a dog get into their furever home. This also gives you an idea of what kind of dog you possibly would want for the future.
26C2C023-8720-41B6-8990-DF1CE2505C70My foster Patsy, and I. She is now at a great home with friends of ours in Connecticut.

8. Take a walk. While it’s totally acceptable to sit on your couch, binge watch some Netflix, and shed some tears, make sure you get outside, absorb some fresh air, and enjoy your surroundings. I know whenver I’m feeling lost, I like to move around and reflect.

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9. Surround yourself with loved ones. Invite a friend over to have dinner, or visit some family for a weekend. Being around your support system can help you start the healing process.

10. It is OK not to get another pet. Sometimes, I think people want to get another pet so they can fill a void. However, it is perfectly acceptable to cherish the wonderful pet you had in your life and keep the memories forever.

What are some of your methods for grieving the loss of a pet?

 

Monthly Feature: Great Gifts for the Frenchie Lover

Hello again! Welcome back to our monthly feature of amazing gifts for dog lovers!

This month I’ll be featuring one of the more popular breeds, the French Bulldog, or as most people call them, the Frenchie.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Their flat noses, wrinkly jowls, expressive eyes, and rounded ears melt our hearts. They are known to be social, friendly, affectionate, and perfect for living in smaller spaces. A lot of people get them confused with the Boston Terrier, as they are very similar. However, they tend to be shorter, have wider faces, and a more variety of fur patterns.

Here are 8 great gifts that will sure to delight the  Frenchie lover in your life.

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  1. Pardon My French Doormat. Click here to order. From Etsy. The perfect way to greet visitors! $44.00

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2.  White French Bulldog earrings. Click here to order. From Doodleworm on Etsy. A fashion statement that goes with any outfit. $12.00

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3. Le Frenchie Art Print. Click here to order. From Bonnie Bryant Creative. Price varies on size. Add a whimsical, charming illustration to your home.

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4. French Bull dog greeting card (blank inside). Click here to order. From Society6. Comes in a set. Price varies on set you choose. The gorgeous colors will be sure to delight any recipient.

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5. French Bulldog sweatshirt. Click here to order. From Etsy. $40.00. Look stylish with this well designed and comfortable sweatshirt. Pair with some white shorts for the summer and skinny jeans in the Fall.

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6. Frenchie Newborn hat and matching socks. Click here to order. From MonoFaces, $22.00. Your baby will be stylin’ from the crib to the stroller.

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7. Colorful Frenchie water bottle. Click here to order. From Amazon. $14.99. This stainless steal, BPA free bottle keeps your water cold for up to 24 hours. Perfect for those long walks with the dog!

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8. All You Need is Love…And a French Bulldog. Click here to order. From Amazon. $7.49. I think this statement says it all.

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9. Frenchie Stationery Sets. Click here to order. From Sacco Studios. $12 for a set of 10 notecards. This cheery frenchie will put a smile on anyone’s face, almost as much as the message you’ll write in it.

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10. French Bulldog line drawing. Click here to order.  From Etsy. $24.50. The simplicity of this piece makes a statement all on its own.

Next month we’ll feature another great dog! Until then, tell me what other great finds you have gotten for your frenchie lovers in the comments below!

A Day in the Life of Gant

It’s been a little over two months since we’ve moved to Florida. From pine trees to palm trees, from being able to drive 3 hours and be in another state to driving 3 hours and landing in Miami.

While we have been adjusting to our new environment and exploring the local scene, Gant is doing his best figure out his daily routine. Like most dogs, he is a creature of habit, and likes schedules. I have read it can take up to a year for a dog to feel comfortable in a new home.

There has been a lot of changes, from a 3 bedroom apartment on a boarding school campus to a house on a suburban neighborhood. From acres of land to run around on to a fenced in yard with a small area of grass.

It is different, but there are many things our neighborhood has to offer, which I haven’t seen in other places. So, I thought I’d give you a little tour. No matter where you are, there are always new things to discover and appreciate.

trashdispenserandgantsniffingThere is a trash bag dispenser AND a trash can across the street from our house! Every neighborhood should have one.

trees.jpgEvery neighborhood has a cluster of trees. You can go through them and pretend you’re in a forest.

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Keep walking and you’ll come across a gazebo. Step inside and read a book (when it’s not 1000 degrees outside). Your dog will be preoccupied chasing Geckos!

deckandsign.jpgWalk just a bit further and you’ll get a lake view. Just don’t feed those alligators! I don’t take Gant on this deck, just in case…

deckviews.jpgSit on the Adirondack chairs and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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Lily pads everywhere.

geckoontreeAnd geckos scurrying away as you walk by. Gant has caught a few.

houseviewThen head home for a special treat. Because there’s always an occasion for one!

 

 

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