Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Five Ways to Raise Healthy and Happy Pets on a Budget

I am the lucky mama of two adorable fur babies. I adopted my fat cat Rowena in the fall of 2010. She is still my loving little girl who gives the best cuddles. Kingston, the bear dog became a part of the family a year later, during my last semester of college. I always say that these sweeties were the best worst decision of my life. Lets face it pets are expensive! As a college student (and even now) I don't have a lot of money to spend on extra pet supplies. Yet the joy they bring to my life more than makes up for their cost. Over the years, I have come up with some ways to help you save money on pets but keep them happy and healthy

1. Adopt Don't Shop
By adopting a pet from a local rescue you are not only saving a life but also saving major money. Both Rowena and Kingston came from the Boulder Humane Society. The combined cost of adoption fees for my two animals was $35. Now this is really cheap. Rowena came from a free cat day that I happened  to see. Kingston had been at the shelter for a month, and therefore his fee was reduced. Now I am not saying you should choose your pet based on the adoption fee but it is something to consider.
In general local shelters/pounds tend to have the lowest adoption fees with breed specific rescues the highest. Adult animals are also going to cost less than babies.
In addition to your pet, any reputable shelter should have made sure the animal is spayed/neutered, updated on shots and micro-chipped. This is typically not included from pet stores and breeders and will save you some more moolah!

2. Shop around on food
I buy all my pet food at Costco. You can see the savings here. Before that I shopped around for the best deal on food usually ordering them online. Compare, Petsmart, Petco, Amazon and Petco and both give  a discount if you sign up for automatic shipments.  I have used both services but personally prefer and tend to use it for other purchases besides food. They tend to have better prices and more coupons. To make things even better you can use this Referral code TERI2556 for 20% off of your first order!!!

3.Use low cost vaccine clinics
Instead of getting your pet vaccinated at your veterinarian's office take them to a low cost clinic, like Vetco. No appointment is necessary, there isn't an office visit fee and they are open on weekend and nights. No Vetco near you? Call your local humane societies and ask if they offer discounted vaccinations

4. Buy pet toys after holidays
Every year in the days after Christmas I go to Walmart and buy a large stocking shaped bag that is filled with Pet Toys. They usually cost my $5 plus tax. Dog ones usually include some sort of plush toy, a rope, a ball and something rubbery/squeeky. Kingston loves stuffed animal toys but they are destroyed so quickly I can't bring myself to pay more than this.

5.Make It Yourself
I almost exclusively make my own pet treats. They are easy, health and cheap.
I also like to make simple toys. Rowena loves crumpled up tin foil and Kingston goes crazy over homemade tug toys from old clothes.

Feeling more ambitious try these tutorials for

No Sew Pet Bed from The Gifford Design 
Scratching Post from A Beautiful Mess
Re-purposed Crib Dog Crate from My Repurposed Life

How do you save money on your pets?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Whippet: a variation on the basic greyhound

A Greyhound is a classic cocktail of grapefruit juice and vodka over ice. It is incredibly refreshing and perfect for a hot day. However, I am not really a vodka fan. I tend only use it when I am trying a new flavor combination and want an alcohol that will act as a neutral base.

Interestingly enough, most of the vodka based classic cocktails didn't actually have vodka in them until after the Second World War, before that they would typically have been made with Gin. The greyhound is no exception therefore I like to consider this a throwback to the original greyhounds.

I have included mint in this receipe mostly because my mint plant is growing splendidly and needed to be pruned back a bit. Finally I chose to serve it up instead of on the rocks merely because I that is how I prefer my cocktails. No ice=no watered down drink. And... I just bought these adorable martini glasses.Obviously they needed to be used!

In on honor of the original I thought it needed a doggy name so it is a Whippet. Sweet and skinny just like these adorable pups.

2 oz gin (I used Tanqueray but use whatever you like)
2.5 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (about 1/2 decent sized grapefruit)
Splash of simple syrup (my grapefruit was pretty tart so it needed it but not necessary)
6 mint leaves
Splash of soda water

How To:
Muddle mint and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker
Add gin and grapefruit juice to shaker with ice. Shake well.
Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top with soda water.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Debt Free 2015: Is Costco Worth it?

As a single woman living in a very expensive part of the country, I am constantly looking to save money. One of the ways espoused on many blogs is joining Costco or Sam's club. But the people who do this are typically families with houses and extra fridges it seems like. For this reason  I held out on joining Costco for a very long time. I didn't think I would be able to spend enough/have the storage for purchases. Yet still I was drawn to joining one of these price clubs.

Every year I would go back and forth trying to decide if I should join. I would read every blog post and article about the costs of a membership and eventually decide I didn't need it and I probably wouldn't get my money's worth of it. However, in November 2014, I finally gave in and bought a membership. Oh how I wish I would have done it sooner.

I understand that my circumstances are very different from many people and therefore it is important to sit down and have a game plan before joining Costco. When I was deciding to join I had three things that were eventually the deciding factors:
  • Owning Pets
  • Deciding to prepare freezer meals
  • Being in charge of catering company lunches
While I am no longer with my company, and therefore do not have to pick up cases of soda and bags of chips each month, the other two reason more than make up for the cost of my membership, particularly Pet Food!

To help you show you my savings I compared the price of the 10 items I recently bought on a trip from Costco with prices from the pet store and another "saver" store near me (Smart and Final). I estimated how much of each product I would use in a year and compared it to a years worth of similar products. If you want to see my complete breakdown you can check it our here

As you can see the savings are fairly substantial. And this doesn't even include other things I've bought there, such as: meat, produce, wine, housewares etc.

One last note: I am incredibly picky about what I feed my pets. Before switching them to Kirkland brand food I spent a good amount of time researching the ingredients. It is comparable to many premium pet foods and much better than grocery store pet food. Both my animals do incredibly well on it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Wind In My Hair: A quick table fan makeover

My bedroom gets hot, hot, hot! It's west facing windows let in great natural light but also keep the temperature fairly high for a good part of the year. Like most rental houses in Northern California, we don't have air conditioning. During the summer months, I lug out my large portable air conditioner but what about all of the in between times? Spring and Fall and the warm Winter days? For these days, I have to have a little table fan.

BUT...they are sooo ugly. This old white fan has gotten me through some very hot days but it is such an eyesore. Then I saw this great fan on Amazon but at $100 it wasn't going to happen.

So enters my cheap-o brain and I decided to makeover the one that I have. After a quick trip to the hardware store I came back with a can of Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint (affiliate link).

I then wiped down my old fan really well. It was pretty gross but I would do it even if your fan in brand new just to get any oils or dust off.  Next you will want to disassemble the fan and tape off the mechanical areas (the doodad that the blades go on and the cord). Then go at it with the spray paint.

When I first started using the paint I was having trouble getting it to come out evenly. But with a little trial and error, I figured out you have to hold at a very specific angle. Other than that the painted was really easy to use. Two light coats should be enough to cover up the original color. Once dry, reassemble and let the wind blow through your hair!

DisclosureThis post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. However, all opinions are my own. Please see the our affiliate disclosure for more information.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Life Changing Oatmeal Scotchies Recipe

Now I cannot guarantee that these cookies will change your life, I can only speak from my own experience, which is These are the best cookies I have ever had! Seriously, I make these cookies all the time and they never last very long. J.O. described this batch as tasting like love and sugar. I will take it. But seriously they are caramely,chewy, perfectly spiced slices of heaven.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's thick, chewy oatmeal cookies.

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not imitation! Get the real stuff.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 package of butterscotch chips

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is fluffy. Beat in the brown sugar and then the  in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture is smooth.
  • In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir this into the butter, sugar, egg mixture.
  • Using a rubber spatula gradually stir in the rolled oats and the butterscotch chips
  • Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or over night. When I am in a rush I chill it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cooking sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie dough scoop (I have this one from amazon) or rolling 1.5 Tbsp balls place on cookies sheets. 
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once removed from the oven leave on the baking sheet for another 5 minutes or so and then remove to cool. 
  • Enjoy!
Yield: 45 cookies

DisclosureThis post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. However, all opinions are my own. Please see our affiliate disclosure for more information.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Debt Free 2015: Weekly Budget

As I was originally sitting down to write this post I was beyond excited. I had a big milestone to share. I was about to pay off one of my credit cards completely. I had it all planned out in my head what I was going to write. And then reality came and said "I don't think so Paige." On Thursday as I was driving home from work my car decided to break down. So instead of using that last $800 on my CC it instead went to repairing my Mini. I was pretty bummed to say the least. But it still fits into this weeks post pretty well and is  a great reminder that even the best laid budgets of mice and men, often go awry.

What has been helping me the most to cut down on spending has been using a budget. Over the last year or so I have tried almost every kind of budgeting system you can imagine. I have download apps and printables, created numerous spreadsheets and  saved receipts. I would do really great with it for awhile and then BAM, I'd fall off the wagon. I have come to the realization that I was making it to complex. I sat down and wrote what I didn't like about the current systems had tried.

  • I have trouble planning out an entire month
  • I don't like/have the time to log purchases and find out if I am over my budget
Knowing this information I decided a weekly budget is what works best for me. Each Sunday I use the printable linked below to create a budget for the week. Every Sunday or Monday, I sit down and  take into consideration if I need to go to the grocery store, if I need pet supplies, any upcoming events I have scheduled, etc and add a dollar amount to that line item with what I think I will spend. I then total up everything up and take that out that much money and basically use the Dave Ramsey envelope systems. FYI, I usually budget between $150-200 a week and end up with some money leftover.

I keep my cash in a mini expanding file organizer that I picked up at the dollar bin at Target. It's great because I can keep my checkbook, receipts, a pen, my small wallet and the cash all in one place. For daily purchases I only use the money from this. If I need to order something online or pay with my credit card, I immediately take the cash out and put it in a deposit envelope. Under budget money goes back into this envelop as well.

Now I am sure you are asking what about your set expenses (rent, insurance, CC payments etc). To monitor those I use an app called Mint Bills. Here I track all monthly reoccurring bills. Typically, I try to pay all of my bills as soon as I receive a paycheck. For example, if I am paid on the 20th I will pay all the bills that are due from that point on until my next paycheck. This way I can ensure that I don't forget to pay them, have enough money in the bank for them and know how much money I have left over for weekly expenses.  

This system has really helped me get control of my spending but as I mentioned above sometimes you have to go outside your budget. If that happens remind yourself: "C'est la vie!"

What budgeting techniques work for you? Anyone else have to try a few things before they found their system?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

She Sells Sea Shells By My Backdoor

I am in currently in the middle of a major backyard/garden makeover. Since I rent everything I do needs to be cheap and preferably removable. Hopefully, in the next few weeks I will be able to have a full reveal. In the meantime here is a little sneak peak tutorial!

I original saw this idea on Martha Stewart Living and knew I had to have these lights in my yard. I already had all the supplies necessary. With J.O. still in Germany I had a free Friday night and sat down to watch some Grey's Anatomy reruns and create these lights.

  • Seashells (I think mine were originally from Joann's but these ones are similar)
DisclosureThis post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. However, all opinions are my own. Please see the our affiliate disclosure for more information.

How To:

Squeeze glue along the hinge of the seashell and where the tip of the light will hit. Immediately place the light on the shell. I ended up gluing part of the shell to the cord and the tip of the light in the middle of the shell. I then used a clothes pin to hold everything in place. You can remove the pin after 10 minutes or so.

While this seemed pretty easy it almost ended up as a failure. I started out using standard Christmas lights. You know the kind I'm talking about the cheap green ones. I had an older set of them that weren't being used and thought I'd give it a try. Surprisingly they were too big and the chord was too thick. After getting frustrated, I remembered that I had a new box of LED string lights. This immediately started to work better. But I was still having trouble getting the lights to really attach to the shells. I tried the method from Martha, I tried using tape to hold them together long enough to let the glue dry. And then in this darkest moment, I grabbed the clothes pin that had been on my bag of potato chips and used it to clamp the shell to the light. VOILA! It worked! So lesson be learned always have a snack with you when you are crafting.

The final step in this is hanging them up. I have spent  a lot of time trying to decide the best way for me to hang lights up and outside, since I don't have an outlet. The solution for me ended up being a light socket converter. This little beauty allows me to convert any light bulb socket into an outlet. And it still lets me use the light bulb! Did I mention they are super cheap? The only down side is how ugly it is. But I have a couple of ideas to spruce this thing up. Y'all will just have to wait and see.