Ready for a Siesta

A while back I shared a little about the dog bed that the hubs had built and I’d ‘fluffed’ along with our plans to build a few more for other spots around the house. That plan changed a bit when we found a couple of pretty nice dog beds with removable covers during our recent trip to Portland. Removable covers are a huge benefit for me, since I’m actually allergic to both our dogs and cat, but refuse to give up family members for a few sniffles and a headache or two. That means that I need to wash their bedding – and all the other household linens – every week.

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I spotted this large bed at Home Goods for $30 and knew it would work well in the spot where the bed we’d made was in the family room. At first I thought about just using it inside the frame, but it bothered me that the frame covered part of the return vent behind the bed, so I decided to try out the bed on its own without the frame. Not only did I like how it looked and fit below the vent, but the dogs took to it right away. Win #1.

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I also found this round bed at Home Goods for $25 and knew it would work perfectly in the corner of our bedroom. It wasn’t quite as cushy as the other Home Goods find, but I figure we can add to the padding later on if needed. It’s the perfect size for this spot, allowing the hubs room to still move around the bed on his side, but large enough that two dogs can snuggle together on it. Plus it replaced a non-removable cover donut bed that harbored dust and hair. Win #2.

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Just before we left Portland, we found this bed at CostCo for something like $30. I envisioned it taking the place of the non- removable cover donut bed that was behind the chair in the family room. The replacement fit just right and has become a favorite spot for all the dogs since it provides a good vantage point of what’s going on in the main area of the house. Win #3.

We tried moving the bed frame we built into our bedroom, but it didn’t fit well in either spot we had left, so I decided I’d check the CostCos here and see if I could find some more of the round bed we’d placed in the family room.

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The first CostCo didn’t have any of the round beds, but they did have this memory foam bed for about $40 that I was sure would fit the corner of the bedroom by the bathroom. It did, and adding the body pillow from the previous built bed on the back against the wall made it look like a little sofa. This seems to be Stoli’s favorite spot since he can snuggle into the back while still stretching out. Win #4.

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The other CostCo in town did have the round beds, albeit for a bit more than we paid in Portland – but we’re used to that here in Alaska. We picked out a different pattern that fit better with our bedroom colors and placed it in the corner on my side of the bed. It fits just right and like it’s cousin in the family room it’s enjoyed by all three dogs at different times. Win #5.

If you’re keep count, that’s about $170 in dog beds. It sounds pricey, but considering we would have spent more than that for materials plus our super valuable time if we’d built beds for each spot it actually ends up costing less. I was also able to sell the pads we bought for the bed frames and the old donut beds so that brought the total down to around $100 for all five. The fancy pillows I had made will be used elsewhere and that nice wood frame has since become part of the top that will be used for our office desk built in, so it didn’t go to waste either.

The pups are happy, momma’s happy and dad’s happy he doesn’t have to build another few projects. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!

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My Gifted Garden

No, I don’t have a magical super smart garden. I’m just lucky enough to be gifted an entire flower bed of plants, which I’m now calling “my gifted garden.”  Since we purchased a new construction house, we have a LOT of blank space to fill in our yard. I was chatting about this with a co-worker one day a few weeks ago and she asked if I was looking for any perennials to fill my yard. Free plants that will come back bigger and better each year?! You bet I was game! She told me to let her know when I was ready and we’d set a time for me to come to her house and help her “prune” her garden.

I was finally ready to take her up on the offer last week, so we picked an evening after work for me to come by and I showed up with a couple buckets, a shovel and gloves. I was so excited I actually beat her there, but I knew I was at the right house when I drove up and saw this amazing assortment of flowers.

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Just to make sure I rang the doorbell and her husband answered. He was mighty confused when I said I was there for plants! She arrived a few minutes later, changed into yard garb and we set to work with shovels and a stash of plastic bags she brought out to hold the roots.   We chatted about what types of plants grew well and which liked particular exposures as we worked our way up one side of the bed and down the other. She’d ask if I wanted this or that, and I repeated that I’d take whatever she was willing to part with and give it a home to grow.

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By the time we were done the back of my truck was a wall of plants. Both tubs I’d brought were full of bags and I had other bags tucked in between the tubs and on a small tray I had thrown in the truck just in case! And you couldn’t even tell we’d touched her garden!

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Ok, so this IS the same picture as above, but it literally did look exactly the same from the road. It was only if you came in for a closer inspection that you’d see the areas we dug into.

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Once I got everything home, I placed the bags around the flower bed so I could decide final placement for all of them and make sure that I spread things out. I watered everything in the bags since it was getting late and headed for bed. I wasn’t able to get them in the ground for a few more days but I kept watering the roots in the bags and most of the plants seem like they did ok.

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A little fertilizer and some mulch and its done! It will look even better when the hydroseed is done next week and we finally have a lawn too.  I still need to add a line of pea gravel at the back along the house, just like we did out front and add some garden art, but I’m plenty pleased with my gifted garden. I’m anxious to see how it all comes back in next year. I’m hoping most will go to seed, spread a bit and come back even bigger next season. And hopefully, in a few years my gardens will be as established as my co-workers is now and I can ‘gift’ plants to others to continue the chain. 🙂  Here’s a few close ups of the flowers that survived transplant.

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Yarrow

Campanula

Phlox

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Finding the Right Fit

Sometimes it takes a few tries to find something just right. That was certainly true when it came to finding the perfect case for my iPad. I loved the purple case I showed you just after I started this blog, but one night I was tucking it away next to the headboard of our bed and some of the keys came off the keyboard! I tried desperately to reattach them, but they just stuck to my fingers the next time I tried typing.

I spotted a similar style for sale on the local buy-sell page for just $10 and quickly bought it as a replacement. It was still new in the box, but it was basic black. And the more I used it the more I realized it just didn’t work well for me. The fold out for the keyboard was difficult to use, I couldn’t switch up the direction the iPad sat due to the flaps that covered ‘non-button’ areas and the grooves to hold the screen at an angle didn’t grip so unless I was sitting totally still it would often slide down.

Then a coworker showed me the keyboard cover she’s just bought and let me test out the different features. Not only was it purple, it had magnetic contact points that were secure but still easy to remove. I was sold.

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She said she found it on Amazon for half the price she’d seen it elsewhere so that’s exactly where I went. At checkout I was asked if I wanted to use reward points on my credit card to pay for the purchase. Um, yes! And I got free 2nd day air for trying Amazon Prime. I think that’s fate saying I was supposed to have this.

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Since the keyboard just covers the screen I wanted to find a way to protect the back of the iPad. Then I remembered that my company had iPad sleeves as a promo item! And because our marketing department is super awesome (hint, hint, wink, wink) it didn’t have a big gaudy logo on it. Instead we have a fun catch phrase and artwork.

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I was able to sell the old case for what I’d paid, so my only financial investment is the minimal price I paid for the original purple case. How’s that for savvy shopping?! 🙂

DIY Bargain Laundry Detergent. It Really Works.

Before we moved into the new house and started using our new washing machine I read a lot of information about what types of detergent were the best to use in HE washers. In doing so, I learned just how many chemicals were in the typical name brand laundry detergents and how liquid fabric softeners coat your machines with a film.

That’s when I started researching natural detergents and discovered this DIY detergent recipe. It seemed pretty simple, just a few common ingredients and was supposed to last MUCH longer than the usual bottle of detergent from the store. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it out, so I made a half batch and started using it. That was back in December. Apparently their claims about how long it would last were right because I just used the last spoonful of that half batch the other day!

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My first half batch before stirring to mix in the last ingredient.

And I don’t notice any difference in my laundry. Our laundry comes out just as clean and still feels as soft as it did before. But I do notice that my clothes seem to hold up a bit better. I’m not sure if that’s the improved washer or the detergent, but I’ll take it.

Because things were going so well, I decided to make another half batch with the ingredients left over from the first half batch. I haven’t priced out the ingredients in detail, but I probably spent around $50 for everything needed for the first batch. So that averages out to a cost of just $6.25/month for laundry soap. That’s definitely cheaper than the store brands, even in bulk! And because I had half of a box of most of the ingredients left over from the first order, I only spent around another $10 to make the second order. If that batch lasts as long as the first did that will average $1.25/month!

Next time I’ll make a full order since I think the container I’m using is big enough to store it. Doing so should bring the average cost to around $3.75/month. That’s certainly within my bargain budget.

SoapSince the recipe is super simple and well described on the original website I won’t rehash it here. I did choose the option to microwave the bar soap rather than spend time grating it. This does result in bigger clumps so it doesn’t mix quite as much as their original picture, but it still works fine.  The hubs helped crumble it up just before dinner and joked that the pieces resembled biscuits so much that he almost tried to take a bite of one!

I couldn’t find Zote soap here in Alaska, but I did find the alternative yellow naptha soap, which goes better with my color scheme in the laundry room.  It’s not quite as pretty as their pink and purple concoction but it’s just laundry soap. 🙂