a bit of feedback re: pet beds

I’ve been on the search for a decent dog bed to throw outdoors in the summer. Now that we have two dogs rather than one, it has become more important as they enjoy spending hours upon hours in the backyard even on the edge of winter.

Last summer, I customized a bed from Kuranda for Quinn due to its orthopedic structure. Anyone who has researched raised beds has surely stumbled across Kuranda. Aside from the photograph below in which I tricked her with a bit of apple to look pleased, she wouldn’t touch it aside from licking the water that collected on the top after a storm (read: my own fault — I chose a fabric that was not breathable). Since the bed itself was $82 with shipping, I kept hoping she would start to enjoy it. Months later, I sold it on Craigslist to a lady with an elderly dog whose Kuranda bed finally gave out after several years of use. It’s clear that Kuranda is a trustworthy brand that makes a durable dog bed — an added plus is that they even offer a donation program for local animal shelters. However, something about the bed my dog was unfortunately not comfortable with.

On a whim, I decided to purchase a Coolaroo dog bed (in size large) to test out whether or not it would be a decent alternative. It had favorable reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, it was only $30! Definitely a plus for a budget-necessary household. But, really, come on — can a company that makes window shades and patio umbrellas really have a quality pet product? I was pleasantly surprised and, honestly, I think the design looks much more streamlined and pleasing to the eye. It has been durable with the two of them pouncing on top together (a combined weight of 100 pounds). It comes in several different colors, as well, but I decided on green so it would “match” our yard and blend in a bit more. You can read some very helpful reviews on Amazon regarding its quality.

A little photograph comparison:

Quinn | Kuranda bed
Riggs | Coolaroo bed

Needless to say, I’ll definitely be purchasing a second in the future so both dogs do not have to fight over who gets to sit on top of it. I hope I’ve provided some food for thought for anyone searching for a similar product!

(This post is purely my opinion and not sponsored by either brand in any way.)


make your own spring wreath

I had the strange itch to create something for my entryway last night. It’s rare that I venture into a craft store, so this was a bit out-of-the-norm for me.

I settled on making a spring wreath in a matter of a few seconds. This was my time ever using a hot glue gun! That should tell you how easy this project is. It would be a great idea for gifts, too: Mother’s Day, showing appreciation to your child’s teacher, etc. I plan to head to the craft store the next time I’m in my hometown, let my grandmother pick out her own colors, and then make one for her door together.

Items you will need:

  • Scissors
  • Foam wreath (mine is 16″)
  • Felt pieces (I used 9″ x 12″)
  • Yarn (I bought two spools in different shades of green)
  • Hot glue gun with 5-6 glue sticks
  • Ribbon to hang the wreath from
  • A bowl to trace circles with (I just used a plain cereal bowl) **
  • Pen to trace on the felt **

I hot-glued the ends of the yarn to the wreath and spun away. It took me a good half of I, Robot to do so as I wasn’t in a rush. It’s good to note that a regular spool of thread should last you two wreaths — I wasn’t sure if I would need more yarn if I decided to make another as a gift. Don’t over-think how you cut the felt for your flowers. Thankfully, felt is extremely forgiving. I messed up several times and can’t tell from the final product. Lines do not have to be straight.

Helpful links if you’re unsure of the entire flower creating process like I was:

  • Chrysanthemums: check out Infarrantly Creative to see how creating different types of cuts makes your flowers look different from one another. I’m glad I came across this site, since I’m not sure I would have put two-and-two together and bothered to do this on my own wreath had I not stumbled upon it. Craft Snob also has a nice guide with photographs of each step.
  • ** Rosettes: I thought this was more complicated than it actually is at first after reading Mrs. Priss’ tutorial. You really don’t need to do any tracing aside from the circle. After a few flowers, I even started free-handing that. I found the flowers looked better if I literally just cut a long strip and didn’t worry about fluctuating the spiral. Just go with it!
  • Blooms: Keeping Life Creative has a great little guide on how to make two different types of blooms. I didn’t use either of these designs, but I was eyeing them before starting.

Bring as many coupons to your local craft store with you as you can. JoAnn’s accepts coupons online and they accept competitor coupon’s, as well. I didn’t know this and have an extremely awful printer, so I came to the store and quickly grabbed one of their sales flyers from the front door to snab the 15% your purchase coupon. But, after watching someone in front of me have her phone scanned, I excused myself from the line and quickly searched for “JoAnn’s 40% off one item” and found a coupon on an external site. An extra few minutes saved me $4!

Scan the clearance bins. You can easily find the ribbon, for example, for less than 50 cents. There’s a lot of ways to cut down on project costs. I ended up making my wreath for less than $10.

Looking for color inspiration? Check out the creative things others have done.

a formal introduction

I’ve always been a dog person. I’m not one of those people who have dog-print pillows lining their couches or custom-fit, personalized jackets for their dog. No disrespect to anyone who does, of course. I don’t necessarily want this to become a place where I ramble on about how perfect my dogs are (because they’re not — just today, they decided to chomp at our bedposts like beavers… naughty, naughty), but I do think it’s important to introduce them as mention of them will be sprinkled in every now and again.

I would talk about them all day, every day if people would tolerate me. I’m trying to learn how to stop bragging about them.

Oh, I do love them — and their feet smell lovely.

Quinn Riggs

I have had a dog or two all my life, but for the first year I spent in Iowa, my boyfriend and I were in transition without anything furry running about our living space. Of course, my main motivation for getting my own dog was to have a dog, but it was also to force me to become more active outdoors. My dog was to become my gym membership and it worked, up until the blizzard season of the Midwest hit us. Since then, I need motivation to even leap onto my treadmill. Luckily, warmer weather is right around the corner!

Quinn (4.17.2011) is a vizsla/lab mix that we adopted from a local animal shelter at 3 months old. Her legs are a mile long and she’s skinny, skinny, skinny — and, yes, I do feed her.

Riggs (10.16.2012) is a mastiff/lab mix that we also found at the same shelter we adopted Quinn from year and a half prior. Clearly, he’s going to be quite large. He’s much more confident than she is and makes noises like a lawnmower.

This is how they spend most of their time:

I thought I’d write up a little hodge-podge of questions and answers because, hey, I find that sort of thing interesting and perhaps there’s someone out there who does, as well.

Continue reading

small business monday

I’m a big fan of handbags, as evident by my (give me these) purses board on Pinterest. If my budget allowed, I’d have every single one of them displayed in my closet. A few years back, I went on a “designer binge” where I spent a startling amount of money on Kate Spade bags (much in part to their addictive flash sales that they have every now and again — so, in retrospect, I spent far less than what they were worth). My bank account was definitely shaking in its boots in fear of what I’d splurge on next. I’m a bit embarrassed by this. I thought that a “brand name” was a necessity in my professional environment and, admittedly, I transformed into someone else for a bit and neglected my own personal style.

Flash forward!: I recently purged myself of every single designer bag that I owned. I sold all of them on eBay in an effort to rid myself of clutter. It was startling how many items of clothing, wallets, and shoes that I was holding onto purely due to the memories connected to them and not because of their utility. While I did sell quite a few things (ah, if only my student loans disappeared), it felt marvelous to drop off four crates overflowing with items to Goodwill.

One important note in my purse adventures: I did keep every single bag that I’ve ordered from my favorite little Seattle-based online shop, Stitch and Swash.

After my first purchase just over three years ago, each (ahem: I have three) have withstood the test of time, raindrops, accidental rubs against my filthy car, and subzero, snowy Midwest weather. Angie Bowlds, the shop’s owner, achieved Internet fame nearly overnight by having one of her designs featured in the popular vampire saga — but her leather goods definitely shouldn’t be clouded by the “teen” aura stereotype that surrounds the Twilight films as evident by the reviews of her craftsmanship. They are definitely appropriate for any age or environment and you’re able to customize your leather accessory every which way: be it leather color, thread color, hardware color, or print color. Sometimes, she even creates items from reclaimed leather — such as one of the purses that I have that was crafted from a vintage jacket.

A few of my favorite designs include her famous Peacock bag (someday!), cosmetic bag (how lovely would that be for traveling?), and the satchel (again, perhaps it’s just the feeling of spring in the air, but airports are coming to mind — how perfect for a sturdy carry-on). Personally, I think it’s pretty fun to be able to design whatever you would like. It makes your own purchase feel just that much more unique.


Perhaps I’m silly, but there’s something about me that just feels good carrying something around nearly every waking hour that supports a small business.

mineLearn more about available designs at:

Note: This post isn’t sponsored by Stitch and Swash in any way whatsoever. I’m just a fan and thought anyone that is leather-friendly and enjoys buying handmade would enjoy a glimpse at some really crafty goods. Enjoy!

things i found while looking around

I waste too much money on my dogs:

  • Island Mutt: I find their idea of using creating dog leashes/collars/toys with the nylon rope that’s used on docks really economical. I’d think keeping their Monkey Fist Dog Toy as an outside dog toy would be nice for the summer and dog park adventures.
  • Parapup and RuggedByDesignME: Etsy shops that offer leashes/collars made out of parachute cord. I’ll likely try this out for my next round of collar buying. It seems they would be far more durable than what I currently use which isn’t holding up to a rambunctious puppy.
  • Bergan EZ Steps Big Dog Dual Leash: I normally try to buy items such as this on Etsy or from a Farmer’s Market vendor since they always have such great patterns that stores do not (and they’re often cheaper or very similar in price — chain stores are such a ripoff for collars!), but I haven’t found anything similar in my searches. I need something that’s durable and tangle-free for both Quinn and Riggs and, while I’ve never, ever tried a dual leash, this one looks to be one the best I’ve found in terms of reviews.
  • ID4Pet: Unique, durable dog tags. I’ve purchased two already (one for Quinn and one for Riggs) and will definitely be returning to this shop in the future. They ship quickly and come with a really shiny gloss on them that doesn’t peel off.

Since we’re approaching spring, I definitely have “spring cleaning” on my mind. This includes getting rid of all the cans that have been in my pantry for weeks (just kidding — months!).

Deeeelicious recipes that have helped me do so:

  • Lazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole: I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and a can of Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Diced Green Chilies for the salsa and diced green chilies. I also threw remaining bits of the packages of shredded cheese we had in our fridge. No corn, either. This was fast, easy, and definitely ohmygod-I-have-so-much-crap-in-my-fridge friendly.
  • Lemon Yogurt Sugar Muffins: Minimal ingredients that I normally have on hand. This has been my go-to recipe if I feel the urge to bake.
  • Spicy Sausage Pasta: Um. This tastes like a dish I’d get at a restaurant and my “I swear I followed the recipe!” meals never come out to anything resembling that. I usually steer clear of any type of sausage, but this is really quite tasty.
  • Mexican Chickpea Salad: Why did I have three cans of garbanzo beans in my pantry? For this recipe, of course! I used red onion and RealLemon lemon juice from my fridge. I also didn’t include the avocado that’s suggested — that wouldn’t keep well. Divided into one cup containers and I had lunch made for work for three days. Warning: it’s really that good.

Random handmade goodies:

remodeling laundry area on a budget

I’ve been attempting to focus on paying my student loans off before I’m 92, so I’ve been keeping a close eye on my expenses and have created a new (extremely tight) budget with the help of PearBudget’s free downloadable spreadsheet (highly recommended to spend half an hour tackling this beast yourself) and by being inspired by Em for Marvelous’ Marvelous Money series.

I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time on Mint.com and other finance tools, but resorted to the old-fashioned way of “doing it myself” after reading a few Dave Ramsey articles featuring the envelope system. Since the idea of using paper envelopes is up my dear grandmother’s alley and certainly not anywhere near my preference, I use the free version of the EEBA iPhone app to help track my expenses.

I’d been bored with my laundry room area for quite a while, particularly due to its lack of functionality. The woman who lived in our home prior to us was over 6 feet tall and, clearly, the shelves pictured below weren’t meant for someone my height. I’d have to awkwardly climb on top of the machines to gather any items we haphazardly threw up onto the shelf. Very inconvenient and I found myself being far too comfortable with hanging millions of clothes on the shelf just to make the room less bare. My work wardrobe was constantly on display for all of our visitors.

After being inspired by Kelly’s laundry room remodel via a pin on Pinterest, I decided to take action! I wanted to spend less than $100 on the remodel, including getting our closet/hamper area in order.

Plan: I’d count absolutely everything that I purchased.



We took two awkwardly-placed shorter shelves from the closet and disposed of the previous shelf. Since I didn’t have the money to rebuild shelves or purchase a cabinet for the wall (and trust me, I scoured Craigslist for one), I decided to use handy-dandy spray paint for plastic. I didn’t prime them, but did let them dry for an entire week before placing them on the wall. I also decided that I wanted/HAD TO do this remodel in the middle of winter so, hey, spray painting in my storage room in the basement totally wouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. We had to leave the house for an hour with the dogs as the scent wafted throughout the entire house. I’m smart.

I bought the mirrors at IKEA five years ago to use in my “chic Minneapolis apartment” that never actually happened — they’ve been sitting in storage ever since. I just threw them on the wall with no idea in mind (fun!). Lighted branches will stop us from needing to turn the light on all the time when we entered the house from the garage. The print is from Etsy and is meant to serve as a daily reminder when I leave the house to stop worrying so much and enjoy my day. Sometimes, it does the trick! If you like it, I’d suggest joining the seller’s mailing list as she frequently has promotions — I didn’t purchase it at full price.

  • Deep teal spray paint for boring white wire shelves: 2 cans @ $2.50 each
  • Dark gray paint for wall (satin due to moisture in room): $20
  • Laundry cart for between machines: $25 (via Amazon)
  • 3M Command Strips for behind mirrors: $12
  • Divided pop up hamper (closet – not pictured): $8 (via Amazon – previously on sale)
  • Shelves on wheels (closet – not pictured): $12 (on sale at Target)
  • Broom organizer (closet – not pictured): $7 (via Amazon)


It was fun to challenge myself into re-purposing the random decor that was in storage in my basement for years. This little project helped me realize that I have far too much clutter and, since completing this, I’ve gone through everything from my messy bathroom closet to everything under my kitchen sink and disposed or donated items that I’d been keeping “for a rainy day” or “what if this unrealistic event happened?” — it has been quite liberating!


I often forget to take the time to make my own adventures — to explore seemingly-insignificant places and find the good in them. For the past week, our local dog park has been closed due to construction. During this time, I’ve taken my dog on the same walks throughout our neighborhood that we’re both used to. While it certainly hasn’t been boring, I did need a change of scenery. After living in our house for just over a year, I’ve been riding past the same bike trail day after day, always thinking to myself “this weekend, I’ll go there,” but then it never happens. There’s something or other to do that seems more significant. But, to be truthful: there’s no excuse. Take the time to explore the places around you and you just might be surprised like we were!