Pets – Frugal Novice
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The Perfect DIY Litter Box Solution

We recently added an adorable kitten named Stone to our family. Our oldest son had been begging for a cat for months, and we pulled off a surprise of epic proportions in getting him one for Christmas. Isn’t she adorable?

My one stipulation for allowing us to get a cat was that we had to figure out a solution for the litter box. I hate the smell, and hate litter getting scattered all over the floor. We looked around on Pinterest for inspiration, and then Brian sketched out plans to make our modified ideas a reality – now Stone can use the litter box in our garage!

I thought I’d share our litter box solution in case anyone else is looking for a way to keep the smell and mess of a litter box out of the house, while still having an indoor cat.


The first step was installing a pet door between our laundry room and garage. We found this pet door that has a telescoping tunnel, so it works really well for going through interior walls. If your wall is thicker than ours, you can also purchase extensions for the tunnel for about $10. We loved this door because it has two flaps and is easy to lock.

Brian installed the door and said it was a fairly easy process. The main thing to consider is being VERY careful cutting through the drywall – you don’t want to cut a pipe or any electrical wires.

Once the door was installed he sealed the seam inside the tunnel with silicone, and ran a bead of silicone around the frame of the door both in the garage and in our laundry room.


Next we worked on building the litter box crate in the garage. We built a platform with 2×4 legs supporting it.




We had our quality assurance rep assess the sturdiness:


Next we built a frame for the walls and ceiling, and built a small door, attaching it with hinges. We weren’t too worried about aesthetics, and we don’t have tools for doing pocket holes, so we just used brackets to piece everything together.



Once the frame was built I did go ahead and paint everything out, using the trim color we have throughout our house. I wanted to make the surfaces wipeable and prevent odor from soaking into the wood. It had the added benefit of camouflaging the brackets a bit!


After I finished painting the wood, we stapled screening in. This allows air to flow into the pen, and lets us see if Stone is inside when we go to empty the litter box.





We added trim to the top of the pen so there are no sharp edges of the screening that the kids might scrape up against, and then we added a latch and lock to the door.


If you don’t have young kids you probably don’t need a lock, but we didn’t want our 4 year old to accidentally open the door and let Stone inadvertently get outside. A combination lock is easy for us to open whenever we need to access the box.

Voila! You’re all set.

Your cat(s) can access the litter box in the garage freely whenever needed, and the mess and smell stays out in your garage.



The Perfect Christmas Present for Your Furry Friend!

This post is part of an ambassadorship with Beneful. I receive products, information, and compensation as an ambassador. All opinions are my own. We’re proud to be #FriendsOfBeneful! 

Guys, I’m so proud that I just have to share. We’re almost done with Christmas shopping, y’all. And there are still five days to go! That might just be a record for us. We’ve gotten cousin gifts, grandparent gifts, and of course gifts for our kids – and in our house we definitely can’t forget our pet gifts, either. We shop for our two dogs, my mom’s dog, and my brother & sister-in-law’s dogs – it’s tradition for them to all exchange gifts each year.

If you’re looking for what to give your pup this Christmas, look no further! I’ve got a great suggestion for a goodie bag any dog would love – plus a DIY gift idea and a how-to on creating a custom gift bag to fit any oddly-shaped gifts.

You can see above the variety of gifts we decided were perfect for our dog Sally to give our other dog Ninja. So fun, right? A rawhide candy cane, a tub of yummy Beneful food, a dog toy, and a custom collar slide to help him feel festive.

Here’s how we assembled the collar slide – I just cut shapes out of felt and then used a hot glue gun to assemble it all. I added a felt loop on the back to slide on to the collar, and voila! – all set.



This assortment of gifts makes for an odd present to wrap, so I made a gift bag out of wrapping paper – and here’s how I did it:


Take a sheet of wrapping paper and fold it in thirds,taping the seam together. Then fold up the bottom of the paper and spread it open into a diamond shape. Fold the top corner of the diamond down and the bottom corner up so they overlap, and then tape. Reach your hand into the open end and spread the bag out, and you’re good to go! It’s so easy and super cute.

We put the Beneful food in the bottom of the bag – it makes a perfect weight so the bag doesn’t tip over – and then we added everything else.



Since Ninja can be a little oblivious we went ahead and let him try on the collar slide – isn’t it adorable? You could do any sort of shape you like – even something like an initial so it could be used beyond the holidays.



Protect Your Pets with Healthy Paws Pet Insurance (+ a Giveaway!)

The Healthy Paws® information, product, and gift card, have been provided by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance®. All opinions are my own.


This is our lab/golden retriever, Sally, conked out on a recent road trip. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that our dogs are pretty special to us. They are loyal, loving, and unendingly patient with our three loud, energetic kids.

A year ago, Sally got a bug bite on her head that she scratched at, and it got infected. She was absolutely pitiful – so lethargic and not like herself at all! We were worried and took her to the vet right away. Thankfully they were able to do a laser treatment and give her medicine to help with the healing process – but we were left paying nearly $300 to the vet. She’s totally worth it, of course, but I wish I’d known then about Healthy Paws Pet Insurance®.

It’s the #1 customer-rated pet insurance, and it pays up to 90% of vet bills due to unexpected accidents or illness! We could have avoided that huge bill and protected our budget that month if we had signed up for one of their policies.

If you get a free quote from Healthy Paws, they’ll contribute money to the medical care of homeless pets.  Sign up early on in your pets’ lives, because pet insurance is just like human insurance in that it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. And don’t forget to participate in their Refer-A-Friend program, where you can earn $35 for each friend that enrolls.

Keep up with Healthy Paws on Facebook & Twitter, too!


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We’re Keeping our Furry Foodies Happy with Beneful’s New Recipe!

This post is part of an ambassadorship with Beneful. I receive products, information, and compensation as an ambassador. All opinions are my own. We’re proud to be #FriendsOfBeneful! 

Blue_POSTERBrian and I consider ourselves foodies. We love to cook, we love to test new recipes, and we love to try new restaurants. One of my favorite things to do each weekend is to look up recipes and plan our meals for the week. We’ve gotten the kids in on our love of food, too – even our picky child! So it only makes sense that in this family of foodies we don’t want to leave out our sweet dogs, Sally & Ninja.

Beneful is a brand we’ve loved for our dogs for a long time, but we love them even more now that they’ve rolled out their new recipes for their dry food.


It’s a sign to us as dog owners that Beneful really cares about making the best quality food for our furry family members. Real meat is the #1 ingredient in their beef and chicken dry foods.



Did you know you can get a free sample of the new Beneful dry dog food so your pup can give it a try?Just go here to sign up.  (By the way – it’s important to note that dogs can be sensitive to change, especially when it comes to food. Even if you currently feed your dog Beneful, you’ll want to transition to the new Beneful recipe as you would for a new type of food. Check out these helpful feeding tips and tricks for how to make the transition smoothly.)

When we got our sample in the mail, Sally was practically beside herself with excitement.


I apparently took too long to open the package, because she hopped up with her front paws on the dining table. She’s never done that before (she totally knows that’s against the rules!) but apparently the allure of Beneful was too much!


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The Dream Dog Park Project with Beneful

This post is part of an ambassadorship with Beneful. I receive products, information, and compensation as an ambassador. All opinions are my own. We’re proud to be #FriendsOfBeneful! 

Blue_POSTERYesterday we decided to take the kids on a special outing. We had dinner at home, and then told them we were going to the park, which garnered some moderate excitement – who doesn’t love a good playground? But then we told them we were going to a dog park, and that we were taking our Yorkie/Schnauzer mix, Ninja, with us. Glee erupted – they were thrilled! Ninja was pretty excited, too, and we promised Sally (our Lab/Golden Retriever mix) that we’d take her next time (Our city has a small dog park and a large dog park, so it’s easier to take them one at a time and all be able to hang out together in one or the other).

Ninja could hardly contain himself on the car ride over (he needs a hair cut, btw – he’s scheduled for the doggie spa tomorrow… so excuse his shaggy look!):




When we got to the park there were four other dogs already playing. Ninja was a little hesitant at first, doing his own thing with our family, but soon all the dogs were playing together.

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Our Family is #FriendsWithBeneful!

This post is part of an ambassadorship with Beneful. I receive products, information, and compensation as an ambassador. All opinions are my own.

Our dogs are complete opposites from each other. Sally is a labrador/golden retriever mix, and is about 80 pounds. Ninja is a schnauzer/yorkie mix, and is about 12 pounds. She’s HUGE and he’s little. She’s got light fur and his is pitch black.

They couldn’t be better buddies, though. These two love each other, and we love them. They’re a perfect part of our loud, busy, sometimes chaotic family and I just couldn’t imagine our house without them.


If you’re ever looking for these two, just find us. They couldn’t be more loyal companions and they always want to be right where we are (they’re sitting beside me as I write this post!). If I’m walking around the house working on things, I often hear the jingle of both of their collars as they follow right behind.


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#SavorSimple Moments with Your Furry Friends

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina, who is also providing the prizes for giveaway. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

First of all, if you haven’t already entered my giveaway for your chance to win one of THREE Waggin’ Train prize packs, go do that real quick. Then come back here and finish this post.

Now, back to business.

We are busy. Not as busy as some families, but busier than I’d like a lot of times. We’re on the go many evenings during the week, and sometimes we don’t get to spend as much time with our dogs Sally and Ninja as we’d like to.

Thankfully, it’s easy to tell that what makes them happy is being with us, so even if Brian and I are working on design freelance, or we’re watching a show together to decompress after a busy week, the dogs can be right there (and I mean rightthere) with us. Ninja really just wants to spread out on the cool floor with us near him, and he’s happy as can be!


I also love it when Sally hops up in bed with us – she circles around a few times before she settles into her spot, and if one of the kids is in the room she’ll inevitably be laid on (which she actually adores, because she’s such a sweet dog).

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Purina’s Waggin’ Train Dog Treats are a Hit! {Giveaway}

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina, who is also providing the prizes for giveaway. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

If you saw some of my posts last week, you know that our dogs are a big part of our family; we had fun celebrating them for National Dog Week, but that doesn’t have to end just because the week is over! We want to keep letting our dogs know we love them with plenty of attention, plenty of petting, plenty of play, and plenty of treats!

If you don’t remember, we have two pups in our family:

Sally is 4, and is an 80-pound labrador/golden retriever mix. She is a mouth breather, so you always know when she’s nearby… and she loves to be near us so we almost always hear her panting. :) She is incredibly sweet and she thinks she’s a lap dog.


Ninja just turned 1 in April, and he’s a yorkie/schnauzer mix. He is only about 12 pounds, and I’m betting 2 pounds of that is fur – he’s our little mop! He also likes to be right where we are all the time, unless he’s wrestling with Sally (because while she thinks she’s a lap dog, he clearly thinks he’s an 80-pound lab).


While our dogs couldn’t look any more different from one another, they’re the best of friends (I guess opposites attract?) and they play together all the time. It really is as if he’s the little brother who thinks his big sister is so cool and so he wants to be around her all the time. But since he’s the little brother, he has to also bug her and beg her to play with him.


One thing the dogs definitely have in common is their love of the Purina Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky treats. I pulled out the chicken jerky curls for them to try the other day, and Sally practically climbed up on to the dining table (which she doesn’t even do for PEANUT BUTTER, friends – that’s saying something!).

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#NationalDogWeek Giveaway! #FriendsWithBeneful

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I’m sure y’all have seen my other posts this week sharing a little about our dogs Sally & Ninja. National Dog Week is a great time for us to really appreciate how much they add to our family, and how much we love them!


Beneful is celebrating, too, and they sent us a really fun bag of goodies for the dogs. In addition to celebrating National Dog Week this year, the Beneful Dream Dog Park Project is supporting a wide variety of different dog park projects across the U.S. and help further the Beneful team’s mission of celebrating the joyful life dogs and owners share together. Beneful is supporting dog park projects large and small, and lending a paw to help make dog park dreams come true through a mix of financial support, hands-on volunteerism and dog park expertise. We have a dog park in our city, and it gets used SO much. I think it’s a great feature every city should have, and I love that Beneful is helping support the creation of more dog parks.

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Eat, Play, & {Puppy} Love: National Dog Week

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina. All opinions are honest and are my own.


You love your dog, don’t you? I know we sure love ours! Since it’s National Dog Week I’m especially thinking about how thankful I am for Sally & Ninja. They’re a part of our family and they are completely loyal and loving to us. And you know what? It’s incredibly easy to make your pups happy and thank them for all the love they give.


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It’s National Dog Week!

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina. All opinions are honest and are my own.

We, just like many of you, think of our dogs as part of our family.


Sally, our 80-pound lab/golden retriever mix, is 4 years old. She is gentle and sweet, and loves to put her paw in one of our hands to have us hold it.


Ninja is about 12 pounds, and he’s a schnauzer/yorkie mix. He just turned 1 in April and he is still full of puppy energy. He’s finally turned a corner with his chewing habit and he follows us everywhere.

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Going Above & Beyond for Our Dog with Grain-Free Purina® Beyond®

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PetsLoveBeyond #CollectiveBias

We love our dogs. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but we’ve ended up with two incredibly sweet and patient pups who follow us around loyally, dole out tons of kisses, and play with our kids like it’s their job. They also serve as willing pillows for little heads, and are just all around great members of our family.


Sally is our older dog; she’s 4 years old and is just getting out of her hyper puppy phase. We decided it was about time she had her own dedicated bed, and so we came up with a DIY project to pamper her a little: a knotted fleece dog bed.

If you’ve ever made a knotted fleece blanket, the concept is very similar. It’s easy, and there’s no sewing, so kids can get in on this project! I had a friend over and we each made a bed for our dogs.

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