Dog People / Jen Ha + Hoku from HelloHoku

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Name/Occupation:
Jen Ha / Visual + UX Designer

Dog’s name/Age/Breed:
Hoku / Age 4 / Shiba Inu

hellohoku_04 What made you decide to get a dog? 
About three years ago, I moved from New York City to San Diego to be with my fiance (now husband). I worked from home out of our tiny one bedroom apartment, which meant days spent by myself in a new city while David worked long hours in his first year of residency at the UCSD Medical Center. I had never really considered myself a “dog person” before but suddenly found myself warming up to the idea of a pup to keep me company, give my days a sense of routine, and encourage me to spend more time outdoors. My husband had grown up with dogs, so he was on board with the idea from the beginning. I liked that shiba inus were calm, clean and had temperaments that suited my personality, so I started looking into adopting one. A couple weeks later, we picked Hoku up from Riverside and the rest is history!

 

hellohoku_02 Tell us about the first time you met Hoku.
He was really calm and shy. He kept a good distance from us, but would walk over to sniff us and check us out every few minutes. All the other dogs around him were really high energy and there were all these puppies jumping all over him but he was as cool as a cucumber.

hellohoku_08 What’s the last thing he did that made you laugh?
He loves to sleep in between me and my husband even though he has his own dog bed. He’ll jump on our bed in the middle of the night and literally wedge his 20lb body between us like a sausage. I’ve woken up with a paw on my face more times that I can count. We also crack up every time he yawns because it’s always super loud and obnoxious.

What are your favorite characteristics about your dog?
He loves fruits and vegetables, especially those with a crunch like cucumbers, carrots, zucchinis, watermelon and bell peppers to name a few. David and I love gardening so we make sure that most of what we grow in our garden is dog appropriate. Hoku also enjoys the great outdoors as much as we do and can hike for hours without tiring. Last Spring, we made it to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio, the tallest peak in Southern California. It took us 11.5 soul-crushing hours over 18 miles. Hoku took a quick nap after we got home and woke up later that afternoon pretty much ready to climb another mountain. This year, we made it our goal as a pack to reach all the highest dog-friendly peaks in SoCal with Hoku. Eventually, we hope to make it to the highest point in the continental US a dog is allowed to go, which I believe is Mt. Elbert at 14,440ft in Colorado.

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Does Hoku have a nickname? If so, how did he get it?
A lot of his nicknames start with the letter B. Aside from the typical “Boy” and “Baby,” we also call him “Ball” for the way he curls up into a ball when he sleeps…so lately it’s just been “B”!

hellohoku_07 Where do you shop for your dog (online shops, stores, etc)?
We buy almost everything from Amazon. (Honestly, how did people shop before Amazon Prime?) I also love checking out pet shops when traveling, especially internationally, and will usually pick up new toys for him wherever we go.

Are there any dog products you especially love/couldn’t live without?
On a daily basis, we can’t live without his Ezydog harness (the only harness he hasn’t been able to escape out of), Ezydog lite leash, and a simple dog brush (he sheds a lot). For hiking, we love his Surepaw Dog Gear rope leash and Gulpy water bottle.

hellohoku_03 hellohoku_10 What does being a “Dog Person” mean to you?I still don’t know if I consider myself the true definition of a “dog person,” but I am “Hoku’s person” and a lot of who I am today has been shaped by having him in my life. He’s taught me a great deal about patience and responsibility. When we first brought Hoku home at the age of 2, he was retiring from a show dog life, had no real obedience training and was extremely reactive. We wanted nothing more than for him to experience all the joys of being a real dog and were persistent with working through his issues despite all the frustrating/ tearful/ embarrassing days that made us want to throw in the towel. It took 3 months of desensitization training for him to finally be able to walk confidently around the block. For a whole year, I wrote down every single milestone in a notebook that I still look back on to remind me of how far we’ve come. And now, just couple years later, he is happily climbing mountains with us, has dog friends, travels with us around Cali (and recently flew with us all the way to New York City), likes to stick his head out the car window, and chases lizards like a pro. We couldn’t be prouder.

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What’s one piece of advice you would tell someone looking to get a dog?
Having a dog isn’t always the fun, happy moments posted on Instagram. There’s a lot of hard work involved behind the scenes, like carving out time every day for walks, play and training, no matter how busy life gets. The companionship of a dog is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences a person can have in life.

Thank Jen! For more of Jen + Hoku, visit their Instagram @HelloHoku, or their blog hellohoku.com.

Tulum, Mexico

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Tulum was such a treat to visit. Everyone has been calling it was the Williamsburg of Mexico, but I found it to be more like the Venice Beach (LA) of Mexico.  It definitely has more of a west coast hippie vibe. The town of Tulum is still very undeveloped and authentic feeling, which we loved. The main path/road where all the boutique hotels and restaurants are located is nestled into the jungle. Most of the spas/retreat centers/little hotels face the sea. The shops on the main path are all hip and modern, but with a hippie flare. Lots of yoga and meditation-centric spots. It’s easy to see why people come here for that…on the land side you’re surrounded by jungle, and on the sea side you’re looking out at beautiful blues of the Caribbean sea. We loved how it wasn’t developed like other parts of Mexico.  While we were there we walked along the path stopping into each of the little shops, walked on the beach, smelled the perfumes at Coqui Coqui, had a drink or three, and ate dinner under the stars at Casa Banana. Right now (late summer 2015), there is a seaweed overgrowth problem in the water which gives the water a brownish tint and washes seaweed onto the beach with the tide every day. I was glad we moved around while we were in Mexico, first flying into Cancun and spending time at Isla Mujeres where the water was amazingly blue and seaweed-free, then staying in Playa del Carmen, just a few miles North of Tulum, where the water wasn’t as bad.

If we had more time, I would have loved to visit some of the Mayan ruins nearby. Everyone says to go to Coba (about a 15 minutes drive southeast of Tulum), because the ruins are large and the only ones in the region you can still climb on. The Tulum ruins are smaller, but next to the ocean and supposedly beautiful as well. We were too focused on swimming and diving this trip, but…next time! I would have also liked to have had dinner at Hartwood since everyone has been raving about it, but it was closed until November. After visiting Tulum, we came back to our hotel in Playa del Carmen and enjoyed our last night there. In the morning we packed up and got on our flight back to San Francisco. Mexico was a great time and I can’t wait to go back again!

In Tulum:

Where to stay: Coqui Coqui, Papaya Playa

Where to eat: Casa Banana, Hartwood

Where to drink: Gitano (Mezcal bar)

Shops to check out: Bendito, Mr. Blackbird, Coqui Coqui boutique, La Troupe, La Llorona

Places to play: Coba ruins (a short drive from Tulum, only ones you can still climb on), Tulum ruins, Gran Cenote, Dos Ojos Cenote

Giveaway: Geninne’s Art

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As you likely know by now, I love dogs.  And today I’m happy to host a giveaway for an awesome dog person and artist (who has quite the following!), Geninne Zlatkis. Geninne creates amazing watercolor, ink and pencil drawings, as well as carves her own stamps. She even wrote a book about it! She lives a dreamy life in Santa Fe with her husband, two boys, and dog. Earlier this year she lost her sweet border collie, Turbo at just six years old. My heart (and her many, many fans hearts) broke with her. Jack is six, so it especially hit home. From one herding dog lover to another, I knew I had to reach out and befriend her and I’m glad I did! I love following along and seeing her updates from her studio. While all her art is lovely, I especially love the coyote/dog drawings and stamps she does. Recently, a new little pup started popping up in her photos…a heeler puppy they adopted from their local shelter. They named him Zorro because he looks like a fox. So sweet!

Geninne was kind enough to offer two prints to one lucky Wildlandia reader! A coyote print + bird watercolor. To enter, leave a comment in the comment section, or on our Instagram and I’ll choose a winner later this week. For more of Geninne’s art, you can visit her online shop, here. And for more of Zorro, you can follow along on Instagram. Good luck and thanks Geninne!

 

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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After spending time on Isla Mujeres and swimming with whale sharks, we headed down the road to Playa del Carmen, just about 40 minutes away from Cancun. The roads looked just like they would in the US, except for the speed limit signs being in kilometers and there being federales (Mexican police) stations you have to drive through every 10 or so miles.

We got into Playa del Carmen in the early afternoon and checked into the newly renovated Grand Hyatt. It was so hip! War on Drugs were playing over the speakers in the hotel lobby as we walked up, and they were readying the place for Volkswagon to debut their 2016 car models. I was immediately drawn to the large whale shark art on one of the walls. We went up to our room, played with the mood lights and made a drink from the mini bar, then put on our bathing suits and checked out the infinity pool over looking the ocean. So pretty! A few pina coladas later and we decided to head back to get ready for dinner. We walked one street over to 5th Avenue, the traffic-less street with all the little shops and restaurants. Playa is the cutest damn town. It’s not majorly developed like Cancun, but has more of a local feel to it. We decided on La Parrilla for dinner, a local favorite that everyone kept recommending to us. We sat upstairs on the balcony that over looked the street below and had fresh guacamole and chips, fajitas, and this amazing mexican coffee liquor drink they made for us for dessert. A mariachi band played in the background while we talked to our waitor and found out he had lived in San Francisco for 8 years…in the Mission, just a few streets over from us. He said he loved SF, but liked the weather in Playa more. We all agreed he was right about that.

The next day we set off to find two cenotes (sink holes). First we went to Cenote Azul, a series of shallow pools with the most beautiful blue waters. We took snorkel gear and looked at  the fish and caves, then Trey did back flips off the rocks into the water. Huge iguanas chilled on the banks surrounding the pools, and along the paths. Next we went to Cenote Dos Ojos, which was my favorite. There were stalactites and bats in this one. We swam around for an hour or so, finding coins and seeing how deep we could dive on one breath.

That night we had dinner at Alux, this restaurant inside a cenote. The water was all around us and then a huge thunderstorm came and we had to run inside. It was exciting. We ordered a couple more margaritas and waited out the storm. As we were walking back to the hotel, we passed a bar with live music. We popped in, ordered some mojitos, and kept the night going. As a joke, I bought this Happy Birthday button off Amazon a few years back because it has a blue heeler (like Jack) on the front of it wearing a birthday hat. Ever since it has made an appearance on our birthdays, whether we want it to or not. Haha. This year wasn’t any exception. Before leaving for Mexico, I tucked it away in my bag. I brought it out while we listened to the live music and we had a good laugh.

“Go stand in front of that heart mural right now!” I half-yelled at Trey, pushing him towards the wall
“Why!?” he asked
“Because I love you now do it!”
He did. Then I took a picture of him to have proof of birthday button-wearing and we made our back to our hotel room. The next day we would check out Tulum…

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Tom Boy Style / 03

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Right now there’s a pile of dirty clothes overflowing the hamper that’s giving me the stank eye from across the room. In a few days it will turn into a pile of clean, unfolded laundry that will get picked through for a day or two before finally being put away. I know, magic. Please hold your applause. And whaddyaknow, this outfit was a gem of a hamper dive find. Just keeping it classy over here today. I like to think it screams Jackie from That 70s Show plays a pick-up game of baseball with the gang.  Also, what’s black and white and cute all over? Keeper. She knows so many tricks now! I’ll have to do a video soon to show what she knows. I can’t believe my little puppy is 9 months old!

 

Baseball Tee: Camp Collection / Flares: H&M (similar) / Shoes: PONS

 

Have a rad weekend

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HOW’S IT GOING?

Is it hot as bananas where you are like it is here in the Bay area? Everyone is getting excited for Fall meanwhile I’m marinating in my own forehead sweat. Yesterday it was 90 degrees! Where’s the AC when you need it? No one has that here. Anyway, what are you guys up to this weekend? There’s this place down the street that has THE BEST chicken wings, but only on the weekends and last weekend they were a no-show so I’m pretty dang happy about ordering a ten-er of those this weekend. Other than that, we’re keeping things pretty low-key. The dogs picked up bordetella during their stay at Pet Camp last week, despite having the vaccination for it. It’s a nasty, highly contagious respiratory infection. They are on antibiotics and can’t go to public places at the moment. Jack crawled up next to me last night and watched dog youtube videos with me on my phone. He stared at it so intently. I imagine we’ll be doing some more of that while they are on the mend. Poor buddies.

Here are some fun things I found on the internet this week. Have a rad weekend!

This hipster barbie Instagram account is hilarious
A pretty chair
Couple tells how they met in Drunk History style
Private part rugs
This has been on repeat in our house lately
So sweet! The last living 9/11 search dog is honored with birthday celebration
We had so many pina coladas in Mexico and this recipe looks delicious
A cool cloud art installation in London

Above photo via A Restless Transplant.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

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Last week we traveled to Mexico for one last summer jaunt before fall hits and our schedules ramp up. We took the red-eye flight from San Francisco to Cancun, then rented a car and spent 5 days exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. It was the best time. The people, the pace of life, the food…we just loved it all. After landing bleary eyed, we skipped the bright lights and touristy parts of Cancun and went to Isla Mujeres instead, a relaxed little island just off Cancun. The water was the most beautiful blue. We swam around and had coronas and ate fresh ceviche. My favorite part was when we took a boat out to go free-diving with the docile, plankton eating whale sharks. It was amazing to see about 50 or so of these massive animals up close. Our captain took us about an hour off-shore in deep blue waters until we saw fins. Trey and I would sit on the edge of the rocking boat and when our captain gave us the signal to jump, we’d jump into the water and dive down to them. Swimming along with them was like swimming with dinosaurs. They grow up to 40 feet long and are just mammoths! When I was a grad student at Scripps (UCSD), there was a whale shark embryo specimen in our fish lab. It was about a foot long. To see the adult version that was 40x larger was just too rad. We were exhausted after that and took naps in the shade at the hotel pool when we got back. The next morning we packed up and headed south to Playa del Carmen…photos from that leg of our trip coming soon!

Dogs of Mexico

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“He carries the paper for me every morning. He’s a good old boy”.

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“The big dog? Oh, he’s the neighbor’s. I know this because they always come looking for him”.

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“His name is Jack and his ears are like big steaks”.

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“BELLA! HER NAME IS BELLA” -guy working on the roof next door

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There was a sign at the dock where we left from that had a photo of a golden retriever who had recently passed away. This was their new dock dog in training.

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“This is mama, and here is her baby. People think she’s mean but she’s very nice”.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv02 preset I didn’t set out looking for dogs in Mexico. They just kept popping up on the streets, or on old dirt roads, at bus stops and beside docks. I loved making conversation with the owners, giving me a great excuse to use those 3 years of Spanish I took in college to ask the very important question “Es este tu perro? (is this your dog) ?”. I couldn’t always understand what they were saying, or them me, but we had one thing in common: a mutual love for dogs. Which is just about the best thing ever in my book.

 

Have a rad weekend.

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HEY.

We’re off to celebrate Trey’s 29th birthday in Mexico. Yesterday evening while Trey was running an errand he accidentally pocket-dialed me and it was the funniest thing. Coldplay was on the radio in the car and I swear he nailed every note. Normally I would just hang up, but I couldn’t resist listening in on his awesome Chris Martin rendition. When he got to the store he discovered he had accidentally dialed me and asked coyly “how much of that did you hear??”, and I told him through muffled bouts of laughter “all of it”. And now I’m sharing it on the blog. I’ll wait with baited breath to see how he’s going to get me back for this one. Happy birthday babe!

Here are some links around the web I found interesting this week. Hope you have a rad weekend!

The sweetest
Yum!
Can’t put this book down lately
To smile or not to smile
Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence are writing a screenplay together
Don’t like any of the 2016 presidential candidates? Perhaps you’d like Deez Nuts
Music for your weekend

Above photo found here.

 

Inspired: End of Summer Mexico Trip

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This Friday we’re leaving for Mexico to spend 5 days on the Yucatan peninsula.  We were talking the other night about how we always travel off the beaten path when we go places – we backpacked across South East Asia, have stayed in airbnb flats outside the tourists areas in Europe, hired guides in Central America to trek us into the rainforest, etc. We love getting away from crowds and getting more of a local vibe in the countries we visit. One thing we haven’t done a lot of when traveling is stay at a resort in a popular, easily accessible location and just relaxed by the beach/pool. So, we’re off to do just that! I’m excited. The last time we were in Mexico was a few years back when we stayed in Cabo San Lucas. We landed and had forgotten to exchange currencies which made for a fun learning experience. This time we’ll be heading to Tulum and Playa del Carmen, and I’ll make sure to remember the pesos. 

Here are a few things I’ve been pinning on Pinterest while planning for the trip.

1. / Straw sun hat 2. / Turkish beach towel 3. / Sandals 4. / Beach tunic 5. / Brass cuff 6. / Sunglasses.