11-Point Checklist for Prepping Your Home for a First Pet

So, you’ve decided you’re ready to welcome a pet into your home for the first time. Congratulations! Roughly 85 million American families own at least one pet, so it is a rite of passage for most households. Many pet adoption centers require a home visit before the adoption can take place, so you should ask yourself these questions and view this checklist to ensure you and your home are ready. 

Depending on whether you’re adopting a playful pup or a purr-fect cat, there are different ways to prepare your home. Check out Freshome.com’s 11-point checklist to find out what you can do to prep for any pet. We also have specifics for cats and dogs. 

1. Pet-Proof Your Home 

Animals are naturally inquisitive and like to get into different things. You should invest in tightly-closing trash cans and pet food containers to help keep the pets out. Blind cords should be tied up higher to prevent entanglement and electrical cords should be hidden or moved, since puppies and kittens like to chew on them while they are going through the teething phase. 


2. Reconsider House Plants 


Indoor plants attract pets because they mimic the outdoors, but they can be an extreme health risk. More than 700 plants are toxic to dogs and cats if ingested. Take the time to research if your current plants could be harmful to a new pet and swap them out for plants that are safe. Consider relocating your plants to be out of reach of your pets. 

If you want your home to be pet-friendly but don’t want to sacrifice the beauty houseplants bring, you could also try to find pet-friendly plants. While many common houseplants are toxic to cats and dogs, here are some they can chew on all day without incident: 

  • Air plant
  • Christmas cactus
  • Some ferns, including the Boston fern and maidenhair fern
  • Friendship plant
  • Orchid
  • Polka dot plant
  • Spider plant
  • Some succulents, including echeveria, haworthia, and hens and chicks
  • Money tree
  • Parlor palm
  • Some herbs including basil, thyme, and sage

3. Set Up the Pet’s Space

To help your dog or cat feel comfortable in their new home, create a space that is entirely their own. Get a pet bed and consider investing in a crate if you are adopting a dog. Dogs can learn, from proper training, that the crate is a safe space for them. Crate training also helps you by having a secure place for your dog when you’re not home. For a cat or dog, make sure the area is completely set up before bringing the animal into your home. 

4. Purchase a Few Toys

Cats and dogs alike usually enjoy playing with a variety of pet toys. You could purchase balls or chew toys for a puppy, or string toys and a scratching post for a cat. Pets explore with their mouths, especially puppies and kittens, so make sure that anything you buy can be bitten, licked, or chewed on. Get a couple of basic toys to see what your pet likes before purchasing more. 

5. Stock Up on Supplies

You’re going to need basic pet supplies to get started, including food, dishes, collars, and treats. Cats also need a litter box and litter, and you should get a leash and waste bags for a dog. Once the pet is home and has been named, don’t forget to get an i.d. tag in case your pet gets lost. Approximately 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters every year, so ensure that your i.d. tag includes the pet’s name, your address, and a contact number so that people can reach you to bring your furry friend home. Consider purchasing training pads or pet spray and cleaning supplies, like spot remover, if you are going to be house or box training. 

While preparing to become a pet owner, you should find a vet to take care of your new furry friend and get information about microchipping to help keep your pet safe. 

6. Secure Your Home and Yard 

Ensure that doors and windows latch properly to minimize the chance of your pets straying from your home. Cats also like to climb curtains and on open window screens, so do some research about cat-proof items you can add to your home. If your dog will have access to the yard during the day, make sure that the fence is in good repair and completely secure. You could also invest in a pet door, either directly installed into a door or wall or a panel that can be added to a sliding door, to make it easier for dogs to go outside while you’re away. 

7. Plan for Play Areas 

Animals love to play, so it is important to create areas for this. You could get a dog run installed in your yard to allow your pup to run around without having access to the whole yard. Cats are climbers, so purchase a cat condo or climbing shelf to give your cat room to roam.

8. Create Family Ground Rules 

Before bringing a pet home, make sure that every member of your family is on the same page. Create rules about where the pets can and can’t go, if they are allowed on the furniture, and where they should be sleeping. It is also important to develop a chore list so that everyone is responsible for caring for and taking care of the new cat or dog. 

9. Change Your Air Filters 

Animals typically shed pet hair and dander around your home, even despite proper grooming. Before bringing your new pet home, change the air filters for your HVAC system to ensure that they are clear and ready to operate smoothly. While homes without pets should change their filters every six months or so, you should plan to change your filter every 1–3 months once you bring pets home. 

10. Protect Outdoor HVAC Units 

This is particularly important if you are bringing a dog home for the first time. Dogs mark their territory and urine can corrode the unit or get into the system, making your home smell unpleasant when the air runs. Your dog could also be a digger and potentially damage the system if they scratch or break something. Consider adding a barrier that prevents the dog from getting to the unit but still allows easy access for technician work.  

11. Invest in an Air Purifier 

If you are still concerned about pet hair and dander in your home, invest in an air purifier specifically designed for homes that have pets. Air purifiers also help if someone in your home suffers from pet allergies.  

Follow these simple steps to prepare your home for your first pet.

The post 11-Point Checklist for Prepping Your Home for a First Pet appeared first on Freshome.com.

BarkBox: the Subscription Service that Treats Your Four-Legged Friends

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Who doesn’t love getting presents? If the spike of subscription box services has taught us anything, it’s that we love getting gifts in the mail. And if we have to buy them for ourselves, so be it. But, sometimes, we like to spread that love around. That’s where pet subscription boxes like BarkBox come in. Designed to delight our furry family members, these boxes ship stocked with treats, toys and more. When I set out to try the BarkBox — the dog equivalent of the subscription box trend — I expected a few toys my dog may or may not like. What I got was so much more.
barkbox promo

BarkBox is a monthly subscription service that ships your pet a gift box full of themed goodies. Image courtesy of BarkBox.

How BarkBox works

First, I hate to break the news, but BarkBox is only for dogs. (But don’t worry, there are plenty of cat subscription boxes out there.) Now, let’s talk logistics.


Each BarkBox shipment is valued at over $40 but costs notably less. How much you pay per box will depend on the length of the subscription you set up. Specifically, BarkBox costs:

  • $29 for one month
  • $25 a month, or $135 upfront for six months
  • $22 a month, or $239 upfront for a year

Based on the box I received, I’d say that’s a pretty great deal. But more on that later. We’ve got more details to sort out first.


Each box ships free if you live in the contiguous United States. That’s pretty neat, huh? If you live in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rice or Canada, your shipping will cost $8.


To make sure your pup is getting treats and toys he or she can truly enjoy, BarkBox comes in three different sizes according to your dog’s weight:

  • Small: 20 pounds or less
  • Medium: 20 to 50 pounds
  • Large: over 50 pounds

When you sign up, you’ll let them know which size box you want to receive. And, if you’ve got a dog who’s still growing, you can change your sizing throughout your subscription.


Now, BarkBox isn’t just going to send you a random assortment of junk each month. Far from it. They curate monthly themes to add some zest and playfulness to each month’s box, making it as fun for the owner as it is for the pup. Some past themes include:

  • The Knights of the Hound Table
  • Chewrassic Bark
  • The Good, The Bad and the Pugly
  • Throwbark Thursday
  • Bento & Blossoms
  • Sniffin’ Safari

The box I received was Valentine’s Day themed and came with a cute card with the following poem that I just had to share:

Noses are wet,

Violets aren’t food,

I’m looking for chew love…

And I think it’s YOU!


Want more or less of a certain type of item? BarkBox offers a TAILored program that customizes your box to your specifications. Contact their Happy Team to make your requested changes.

And, if you’ve got a pet with food allergies, you’ll be happy to know two things. First, BarkBoxes never contain wheat, soy or corn. Secondly, BarkBox offers an allergy-friendly BarkBox if your dog can’t handle beef, chicken and/or turkey.

Maybe food isn’t your problem as much as your pet’s play habits. If you own a four-legged friend who loves to destroy toys, you can choose BarkBox’s Super Chewer offering, designed specifically for dogs like yours.

Scout’s Honor

BarkBox has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee for both you and your dog. If you or your hound are less than impressed with an item in your shipment, you can get in touch with their Happy Team and they’ll make it right — scout’s honor.


Our BarkBox was very on-theme and very fun to open. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My first BarkBox

Okay, that all sounds pretty good, right? But what’s it like in reality? I took BarkBox for a test drive to find out.

The BarkBox I received was packaged inside a cardboard box for shipping and tied with a pretty red ribbon. I’m a sucker for good presentation, so my first impression was solid. And that continued as I opened the box, which was lined with a très cute V-Day themed liner and stocked with the aforementioned card, three toys, two bags of treats and a chew.

barkbox stuff

The very V-Day contents of our first BarkBox. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Specifically, our box contained:

  • Coco-Nuts For U Valentine’s Treats
  • Ham Over Heels Valentine’s Treats
  • Hearts and Farts Boxers
  • Be My Howlentine Rose
  • Squeakhearts (three small squeakable plush hearts in a crinkle bag)
  • I Love Chew

The Squeakhearts have been a huge hit at my house. The little bag in which they come has an easily openable velcro top. When my dog is driving me a little nuts while I’m trying to work (like at this exact moment, actually), I put a treat in the bottom, stuff the hearts on top and close it. It keeps him occupied long enough for me to at least type out a paragraph uninterrupted.

The Coco-Nuts treats were also a pleasant surprise. When I first opened the bag, I got a huge whiff of chocolate. Which is, uh, disconcerting, to say the least. But upon closer inspection, I learned that they contain carob, a dog-safe chocolate alternative. A perfect Valentine’s Day treat!

Between all the fun and romantic toys and treats, I ended up with a bunch of items I would never have chosen myself that both my pup and I have been loving. So if you’re looking to spice up your pet’s life, BarkBox is an amazing resource.

barkbox rose

My dog got in the Valentine’s Day spirit thanks to his themed toys. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The pros and cons of BarkBox

All in all, my impression of BarkBox is extremely positive. Letting their pros hand-pick items for your four-legged friend is an excellent way to change things up if you often find yourself getting in a toy or treat rut. And I was personally really impressed with the quality of both the toys and treats in our box.

TL;DR? Here are the pros and cons of BarkBox:


  • Fun themes make the shipments feel extra special
  • High-quality items
  • Reasonable pricing and free shipping in most states
  • Customization options based on dog size, allergies and toy destruction levels
  • Scout’s honor satisfaction guarantee


  • Inability to control what’s in your shipment (I see this as a pro, but I can understand wanting to be more involved)
  • $8 shipping in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada
  • You’ll definitely need a bigger toy bin/box
  • No options for cats

Get your free BarkBox

Sound like something you might want to try? For a limited time, you can use our link to sign up your pup for a 6- or 12-month subscription and BarkBox will give you an extra month free! Just use the code FRESHOME. As they told Freshome, “If you’re a dog, there’s nothing better than BarkBox — a monthly delivery of toys, treats and everything that makes tails wag. If you’re a human, what’s better than FREE?”

We can’t really argue with that. And even if they weren’t running such a great deal, I’d still recommend giving BarkBox a try. Whether you choose a single box or sign up for years, your pet will definitely thank you.

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Home Chef Review: Home Cooking Made Simple (No, Really)

home chef

Does Home Chef make it easier to get dinner on the table? Let’s find out. Image courtesy of Home Chef.

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Ah, the joy of cooking. If Julia Child taught us anything, it’s that there is pleasure in putting together a well-crafted, delectable meal. At least, in theory. But anyone who’s ever run out of an ingredient, nicked a finger while dicing or overcooked the shrimp knows that not every meal preparation experience is a delightful one. And with the busyness of daily life, grocery shopping for the necessary ingredients and getting dinner on the table can feel overwhelming. That’s where Home Chef comes in.

Home Chef, like many of the other meal subscription services cropping up today, purports to deliver “home cooking made simple.” Does it? I got a week of meals delivered to my door to put it to the test.

home chef 4

The ingredients for each Home Chef meal come conveniently packed in their own bag. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The Home Chef delivery: neatly packaged, nicely done

Remember what we were saying about how life gets busy? That was underscored for me as I boarded a plane to Colorado the day I had scheduled my Home Chef delivery. Not ideal. I was only going to be gone for a few days, but that meant it fell to my husband to make sure everything was put away so that it would keep. And I had to wonder, after already being exposed to who-knows-what during the shipping process, would the produce still be fresh upon my return? What about the shrimp-based meal I so boldly ordered?

I’m happy to report that Home Chef makes every step of the process, including storing food until you’re ready to prepare it, a no-brainer. One of my least favorite things in the world is putting away groceries. Home Chef takes the legwork out of it for you. Each meal comes packed in a convenient zip-top bag. All my trusty partner had to do was load our three bags into the fridge and — bam! — he was done.

And the simplicity of the system is brilliant on both ends. It means it takes seconds to put your Home Chef meals away, and it also means that when you’re ready to cook, you literally just need to grab a bag and go. That is, in my opinion, genius.

Home Chef Pricing

Unlike other meal delivery services (e.g. HelloFresh, Blue Apron), Home Chef doesn’t have set meal plan pricing. Instead, you pay per meal based on the recipe you choose. Their standard meals are priced at $20 for two servings or $40 for four. For premium meals, you’ll pay market price.

home chef 3

Here’s a look at all the ingredients one of my meal bags contained. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The Home Chef meals: delicious and delightfully simple to prepare

Okay, moment of honesty here: I don’t love cooking. I don’t hate it, necessarily, but after a full day of work, I’d rather be in the bath with a big glass of wine than standing over the stove. Some people truly find joy in preparing a meal, but I’m not one of those people. I cook out of necessity. And, occasionally, I like the end result enough that I retroactively decide I had a nice time preparing a specific meal.

We received three meals in our Home Chef shipment and I went three for three on actually enjoying the creation of them. Not bad!

It’s also worth noting that I’m a pescatarian so all of my meals will be mostly plant and fish-based. Now, let’s talk details.

home chef 5

From bag to table in under 30 minutes! Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Meal #1: Avocado & Beet Poke Bowl

First up, I made the Avocado & Beet Poke Bowl. I figured that after a few days of sitting around in my fridge, this mostly produce-based meal might leave a little something to desire. But everything was so cleverly packaged that the whole meal shone. The carrots were crisp, the avocado was perfectly ripe and the edamame and beets were delicious. Home Chef nailed it with the sauce, which was easy to customize for my picky husband. After a stint of quick-but-exhausting travel, this meal felt as nourishing as it was flavorful.

home chef 2

The recipes are easy to follow and have pictures to guide you. Image courtesy of Kacie Goff.

Meal #2: Baja Shrimp Bowl

I love eating shrimp, but I hate cooking them. The cook time is just so short that I feel like I’m always tiptoeing the line between raw and overdone. But, with the help of my Home Chef recipe, I nailed it in their Baja Shrimp Bowl.

This is a perfect time to talk about these recipes because, while I prepared the shrimp, my husband did the rest of the meal. And he really hates to cook, so I tip my cap to both him and Home Chef. Their recipes have pictures to guide you at every turn (very helpful for amateur cooks) and the steps are broken down so you never feel rushed. Plus, Home Chef makes it super easy by doing a lot of the legwork — like tailing the shrimp or making the sauce — for you.

Oh, and as for the meal itself? It was so good we forgot to take a picture. Oops!

Meal #3: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta

Ever since we gave up meat, mushrooms have become a staple in our house. Their earthy, meaty texture can really take a meal to the next level — when they’re used properly. Or they can just be weird brown-grey masses in your dish. I’m very happy to report that the Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta definitely landed in the realm of the former. This meal felt decadent without leaving us weighed down. And as a lover of umami, earthy flavors, this one definitely hit home with me. Plus, how cute is that little round pat of butter?

home chef 6

Here’s what you should know about Home Chef before you order your first box. Image courtesy of Home Chef.

Home Chef pros and cons

All in all, I was really thrilled with every meal I got from Home Chef. Here are my key takeaways.

Home Chef pros:

  • Easy and quick to prepare (everything took us 30 minutes or fewer)
  • Good portion size
  • Convenient packaging
  • Creative meals
  • Free shipping on orders over $45
  • Competitively priced (everything I tried was about $10 per serving)

Home Chef cons:

  • Lots of plastic packaging (some is recyclable)
  • Pre-made items (e.g. sauces) could feel limiting to someone who wants to learn to cook from scratch

Would I order another week of Home Chef meals? Absolutely. While $10 a serving might feel comparable to delivery, you’re getting a fresh, flavorful meal and you control the ingredients. Plus, the time it saves in menu planning and grocery shopping offsets some of the cost in my mind because I dislike both of those activities.

Want to try Home Chef for yourself?

If you’re interested in checking out Home Chef, we’ve got you covered. Get 3 plates for free with our code “3platesoff” — just head here and get started.

You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to live a gourmand life. I’d definitely recommend taking Home Chef for a spin.

The post Home Chef Review: Home Cooking Made Simple (No, Really) appeared first on Freshome.com.

What is a Fire-Rated Door and Do You Need One?

In 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to 1,319,500 fires. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a U.S. fire department responded to a fire every 24 seconds. There were 499,000 structure fires, and 72 percent of those structure fires occurred in home structures. Also, of the 3,400 civilian fire deaths in 2017, 77 percent occurred in home structures.

Could fire-rated doors help reduce the loss of life and property in residential settings? Here’s what you need to know about them.

What is a fire-rated door?

Fire-rated door beauty and safety

A fire-rated door can provide beauty and safety. 20- 90-minute fire-rated MDF door, style 9244. Image courtesy of Simpson Door Company

A fire-rated door — or fire-resistant door — is specially constructed to slow or prevent the spread of fire and smoke, according to Ken Canziani, Senior Fire Investigator at EFI Global in Sacramento, CA.

“A fire-rated door is a very heavy door made of materials like metal or gypsum,” Canziani explains. “The term ‘fire-rated’ means that the door, when installed properly, is not supposed to combust during a certain time frame in the average fire.” While time ratings vary, he says standard ratings include 20- to 90-minute doors.

Fire-rated doors are more common in commercial buildings than in residential structures. “Fire-rated doors are often installed in public buildings, in office buildings and in places like dormitories,” Canziani says.

Typical residential applications include installation in entryways, garages and multi-family homes.

How can a fire-rated door help during a fire?

Fire-rated door buys more time

A fire-rated door could buy you some additional time. Image: Monalyn Gracia-Corbis-VCG – Getty

Fire-rated doors can help slow or prevent the spread of fire and smoke, but Canziani warns that they are not designed to be completely fireproof. “These doors are made of combustible materials and will eventually burn through in a fire. However, they will resist the penetration of heat and flames to slow the fire for a specified time period.”

And by containing the fire and smoke, they provide additional time for you to exit the structure.  Most people focus on the element of fire, and they don’t underestimate the significance of reducing smoke inhalation. However, the majority of people who die in residential fires do so as a result of smoke inhalation.

“Fire-rated doors may also help to protect property and personal assets while firefighters work to extinguish the fire,” Canziani adds.

Types of fire-rated doors

Fire rated door should not be propped open

Fire-rated doors should never be propped open. 20-minute fire-rated wood door, style 8212. Image courtesy of Simpson Door Company.

While fire-rated doors are more common in commercial settings, there are many companies that sell residential fire-rated doors.

For example, according to Amira Johnson at Emerald Doors in the UK, the company makes fully finished and unfinished exterior fire doors, in addition to custom-made and bespoke fire doors. Most of the company’s doors have a fire rating of 30 minutes, although some have a fire rating of 60 minutes. Their exterior fire doors are made of plywood or composite core. The company’s interior doors can either have solid panels, clear fire glass or obscure fire glass. Emerald Doors can also make custom fire doors so homeowners can decide which architectural details (raised moldings, etc.) they want in their door.

Fire door options

There’s a fire-rated door to match almost any design style. Image courtesy of Simpson Door Company.


Closer to home, Simpson Door Company in McCleary, WA, also makes fire-rated doors. Most of the wood doors have a 20-minute fire rating. However, the MDF (medium density fiberboard) doors are available in 20-minute, 45-minute, 60-minute, and 90-minute fire ratings.

Homeowners can choose from a variety of wood species and styles, to ensure that the fire-rated doors match the rest of the home’s styles.

Do you need a fire-rated door?

Fire door gaps

Gaps around the door will render it ineffective. Image: Michael Blann/Getty Images

A fire rating does not necessarily indicate the amount of time a door will withstand a fire. For example, a fire door rated 60 minutes does not guarantee that the door will withstand fire for 60 minutes. The rating means that in a controlled test environment, a brand-new door held up for 60 minutes. However, in a real-world application, other factors like heat intensity could greatly reduce this estimate.

“Although a fire-rated door is designed to prevent a fire from passing from room to room, let’s be honest. Even with the right door, a severe fire can melt steel,” says Abe Kozlik of the International Fireproof Door Company in Brooklyn, NY.

Also, a fire door won’t do you any good if the door is propped open or the closing mechanism is faulty. In addition, the door has to be properly installed to ensure that there are no gaps around it.

Fire doors can provide peace of mind. However, properly using your existing doors may be all that you need to do in a fire. “In a residential setting, the simple act of closing the door to a room will slow or can prevent the heat and smoke from entering the room and injuring occupants or destroying additional property within,” says Canziani. “If the fire originates within the room, the closed door may aid in slowing the spread of the fire to other parts of the residence, depending on the time the fire burns before being extinguished.”

In fact, Canziani says he’s personally observed residential fires in which closed doors resulted in significantly less fire and smoke damage compared to doors that were left open.

The post What is a Fire-Rated Door and Do You Need One? appeared first on Freshome.com.

Chewy’s Autoship Helps You Build a Perfect Pet Gift Box

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Subscription boxes are trending, and who can blame us? What’s not to love about getting a treat in the mail, whether that’s a monthly shipment of flowers or a weekly package of food (see you later, grocery shopping!). The only issue with subscription boxes is they can also contribute to the accumulation of stuff. When your box comes stocked with items you don’t really need, they often just end up taking space in your house.

That’s why pet subscription boxes, while super fun for your furry family member, can be a problem. Do pet owners who want to take a more minimal approach to their pet’s stuff have to skip the fun of a pet gift box? No! Thanks to the Autoship feature from Chewy, you can shower your pet with fun items on a regular basis while also ensuring both you and your four-legged friend will like what your box contains.

chewy autoship

Use our promo code (at the end of this article) to grab 30 percent off your first Autoship from Chewy. Image courtesy of Chewy.

How Autoship from Chewy works

So, let’s be clear, Chewy does not offer a subscription box. They do, however, offer a recurring shipment that’s tailored to your pet. After personally getting a sample box from them, I think that’s a good thing. My dog’s toy basket is now completely overflowing. I honestly can’t imagine keeping up with a monthly increase of toys, and that’s saying something because my pet is a Destroyer of Toys.

You can use Chewy’s Autoship feature to set up your own subscription, on your own schedule, with the items that are right for your pet. That could mean a monthly shipment of Fluffy’s favorite treats or a quarterly box with Spike’s favorite toy that he inevitably destroys every so often.

And, here’s the best part: you get 30 percent off your first Autoship, plus 5 to 10 percent off select products in all your future Autoships. You can change or cancel your Autoship at any time. So whether you want a monthly, quarterly or yearly present for your pet, Chewy’s got you covered.

chewy goody box 1

My box came with – count them – six(!) toys and three types of treats. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My sample shipment from Chewy

I wanted to test this out. It’s one thing to go into a pet store and see a toy in person. It’s another to order it online. Would Chewy’s toys hold up? Would their treats entice my dog? It was time to find out.

My box from Chewy arrived on a rainy day. We’ve been having this uncharacteristically wet winter in Southern California and my dog — a dingo lookalike mutt named Babou — has been going nuts. Naturally, he’s driving me crazy right along with him. So when the box showed up on my doorstep, I tore into it. And, I swear, Babou must have known it was for him. He paced nervously around me as I pulled off the packing tape and started sorting through the goods. We received:



The puzzle toy, in particular, was a real treat for both Babou and me. With the rain keeping us both indoors, stuffing the box full of toys (it came with three small ones inside) and tucking a treat at the bottom was enough to keep us entertained while we waited out the steady drizzle.

chewy goody box 2

The prince patiently awaiting his new treasures. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My review of Chewy’s products

Would I recommend ordering your dog’s favorites from Chewy? Abso-freaking-lutely. Every toy they shipped me is high quality. My dog has been thrilled with (and unable to destroy) each item. And as for the treats? They’re a slam dunk. The freeze-dried treats, in particular, are a fun new discovery. Babou is a finicky eater, but I’ve found that crumbling two of them on top of his food will have him polishing off dinner in record time.

Chewy has such a wide range of toys and treats that it’s easy to replicate an Autoship order with the things you’re already grabbing from the pet store on a regular basis. With the double bonus of getting a discount on your order and crossing an errand off your list for good, it’s definitely worth taking this unique approach to pet gift boxes for a spin.

Plus, Chewy has amazing customer service and an 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on every item in every order. You can rest easy knowing that you’re going to be happy with your order.

Want to get in on the action? We’ve got a Freshome promo that gets you 30 percent off your first Autoship order! Whether you’ve got Fido’s birthday coming up or Fiona just seems bored with her current hoard of cat toys, it’s worth checking out Chewy.

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15 Interior Designs for Pet Lovers

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For pet lovers, animals are truly a central part of our lives. They give us companionship and joy. Our animals are even a part of the family. So it makes sense that some interior designs are taking that into account by incorporating pet needs right into the space. Some designs have pet beds that fit a room’s style, others have cat play areas right along the wall and still other designs build aquariums right into the room. Take a look below for some of the top interior designs for pet lovers. You may be inspired to put in some new designs to accommodate your pet, and your animal companions are sure to appreciate it.


We love our dogs. But sometimes their pet beds, play areas, kennels, toys and food bowls can disrupt the design of a room or outdoor space. So designers are finding creative ways to incorporate pet needs into a space in classy ways.

These designs include trendy dog beds that fit the room’s style and outdoor dog houses that are a well-designed part of the yard. And some interior design elements, like wallpaper, fit right into an animal theme. The designs for pet lovers below show that you can devote your home to a pet but still keep it true to any design style you choose.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Dog Bed Fabric

With some trendy fabrics, a pet bed like the Matching Dog Crate Bed can fit into just about any room style. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Dog Sofa

A tiny sofa for your dog can fit into the most upscale of room styles, as you can see with the Longworth Dog Bed. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Dog Bed Modern Style

The Darren Wood Dog Bed would work well in modern room styles. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Yellow Dog House

Dog houses can have a style of their own. Image: alexei_tm/Shutterstock

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Wallpaper with Dogs

You can pay homage to your pet with this Wiener 15-foot by 27-inch Dogs Wallpaper, especially in a designated dog room or area. Image courtesy of Wayfair.


Cats come with a whole multitude of different needs. While dogs generally stay on the floor and exotic pets tend to live in a cage of some variety, cats desire free reign of everything. You’re likely to find them exploring and hiding in the most unlikely of places: the top shelf in the closet, behind the computer monitor, nestled behind curtains. All is fair game for kitty.

So, in order to encourage productive play, many interior designs have worked specific climbing spaces for cats to enjoy into the space. These play areas are sleek, stylish and fit in with the overall design of the room. Other interior designs for pet lovers take into account cat beds for naptime and make those work with the design of the room, as well.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Cat Beam

An exposed rafter with a simple cat toy added is a great way to modify a rustic space for your cat. Image: Patrik Slezak/Shutterstock

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Cat Climb Wall

You can buy subtle, modern cat climbs that attach right to the wall, as you can see with the Gypsy Wall Mount Cat Playground Cat Perch. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Perch Style

Another trendy idea for kitty is this stylish 10-inch Bookman Wall Mounted Cat Perch. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Cat Condo Modern

This geometric 69-inch Cleopatra Cat Tree is great for artsy and modern spaces. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers TeePee Bed

A Teepee Cat Bed is perfect for artsy, rustic or casual spaces. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Housing Exotic Animals

Exotic pets are defined as anything that is not a cat or a dog. It’s a pretty expansive definition that can cover anything from a rabbit, bird or fish to a cuddly pet boa constrictor. Most of these animals tend to be housed in cages, making them less intrusive to a room’s overall design.

There are creative ways to house your critters that make attractive additions to a room and work well with the overall room design. Many of these also work in outdoor spaces. So take a look at these designs for pet lovers that show some great ways to house those exotic pets.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Bird Cage

A classic wire birdcage can fit well both indoors and outdoors. Image: 1828858957/Shutterstock

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Rabbit Hutch

Rabbit hutches can be stylish with rich wood textures. Image: Ratthaphong Ekariyasap/Shutterstock

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Fish Tank

A bright fish tank can add some bold color to a space otherwise dominated by neutral tones. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Wood Kennel

This Pet Crate End Table in Walnut is a classy way to house just about any animal you can’t keep an eye on for a bit. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Interior Designs for Pet Lovers Fancy Rabbit Hutch

You can also find animal hutches that actually look like small, classy homes themselves, as you can see in the Englewood Duplex Rabbit Hutch. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

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Build Your Home Emergency Kit with These Essentials

home emergency kit - candles

Is your house prepped for an emergency? Adding a few simple items – like candles – to a home emergency kit can make you ready for anything. Image: JR-stock/Shutterstock

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If the wide range and vast number of natural disasters that have impacted the US in the last year are any indication, we need to be ready. When you watch these events unfold on the news, it’s easy to feel like they’re happening in a parallel universe. But, you never know when disaster will come knocking at your back door. That’s why having a home emergency kit prepped is so important.

Last December, we had just put up our Christmas tree and were enjoying a glass of wine in its light when we noticed the sky turn orange. Within hours, we had evacuated out of the path of the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in California history at the time. Over the next few days, I thought about everything I assumed we’d lost. Ultimately, the incredible efforts of the firefighters saved our neighborhood. But it taught me a valuable lesson.

With that in mind, I’ve started putting together a home emergency kit. From my research and based on recommendations from various disaster preparedness agencies, here are the seven items we should all have stocked and ready.

home emergency kit - pantry

Stock your pantry with the essentials. Image: Switlana Symonenko/Shutterstock

Food & water

While facing disaster meant evacuating for us, it can also mean you need to batten down the hatches. If you get trapped at home and need to quite literally wait out the storm, you’ll need food and water. It’s recommended that you have enough water for three days of survival, and experts say “enough” means one gallon per person per day.

Keep plenty of nonperishables stocked that you can prepare without a heat source, too. And if you rely on an electric can opener, tuck a manual into your emergency prep area. Generally, you should have enough food stocked in your pantry to last you a week and should put three day’s worth in your go bag (more on that below).


If you lose electricity, light will be key. Give yourself a few different options in your home emergency kit. While flashlights are easier if you need to head outside, lanterns can make it less of a chore to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Plus, they’re handy if you need to perform any task with both of your hands.

It’s a good idea to have a mix of solar and battery operated lights and plenty of extra batteries. Throw some candles in the mix, too. They can add a nice sense of calm during an emergency and can save you from having to fumble around for batteries in the dark.

home emergency kit - bag

Have a bag packed and ready to go. Keeping a carry on ready makes it easier to get out the door. Image: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

A go bag

The one thing I wish I’d had ready to grab was a go bag. This can save you a ton of stress when you need to hurry out the door. In addition to the few days’ supply of food, add a few changes of clothes and personal hygiene essentials. Then add medication (a seven day supply), cash and important personal documents.

These should include birth certificates, the deed to your house, proofs of insurance, passports and social security cards. If you have a filing system where you keep these documents normally, keep them all in one folder. Then, put a visual reminder (like a big yellow tag that reads “DOCUMENTS”) on your go bag so you remember to grab it.

Cell phone chargers

During an emergency, being able to keep in touch with loved ones can take an absolutely huge amount of stress off you. Make sure you have cell phone chargers ready in your home emergency kit. Just like the lights, you want to mix up your power sources. Batteries come in handy at night, but solar power is an essentially infinite power source if you can find sunlight.

Since your phone will be an essential tool during a disaster, prep it. It’s smart to store a note in your phone with important emergency contact numbers, like the number for your local fire and police departments. Also, download some local maps so you can access them even if your cell service goes down.

home emergency kit - first aid

Your first aid kit doesn’t need to be this conspicuous, but it does need to be stocked. Image: New Africa/Shutterstock

First aid kit

When a disaster comes your way, you can’t predict what it will bring. You should have a stocked first aid kit at the ready in your home emergency kit. It’s a good idea to put a smaller version in your car, as well.

Hand-crank radio

Nothing is quite as stressful as having a disaster coming your way – and not knowing what’s coming next. A hand-crank radio can keep you in the know. An NOAA weather radio is a reliable option and you can grab it on Amazon for just $40. That’s a small price to pay for information when that information can help bring you peace of mind.

N95 mask

In California, we’ve learned the importance of N95 masks for keeping smoke out and keeping lungs healthy. But in the few days after the Thomas Fire, every store in our area was completely sold out of these masks. Have a box on hand so you’re ready.

These aren’t just applicable for fires, either. Disasters can stir up airborne debris or cause gas or fumes to be released into the air. Having a mask handy can help you avoid respiratory problems.

Do you keep a home emergency kit ready? Let us know in the comments!

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Playroom Ideas to Keep Kids Occupied for Hours

Playtime is an important part of your child’s developmental process. While playing, they develop cognitive and athletic skills, in addition to building confidence and learning how to be creative. TV and video games will try to compete for your child’s attention, but with the right playroom ideas and tools, you can create an environment that encourages active play (as opposed to passive entertainment).  Below, we’ve provided inspiration for some of the best playroom ideas that will keep your kids occupied for hours.

An enchanted forest

This Denver, CO, enchanted forest playroom creates the perfect fairy-tale setting. Image: Mile High Style

This enchanted forest has real tree trunks (from fallen Aspen trees), which have been bolted to the floor and ceiling. In the center is a ladder made out of tree branches, and there’s a ledge on the left side of the forest. Lights strung throughout add to the enchanted atmosphere, as does the tree wallpaper.  Soft carpet and plenty of storage complete this playroom.

A house

A house

The only thing better than a playroom is a playhouse. Image: Studio LA maison

This French playroom is actually a small house – with a basement, main level, and attic! Traditional and porthole windows add architectural detail. On the main level, there’s a tastefully decorated living area that includes furniture, throw rugs, and accent pillows. There’s also a study area with a desk and lamp, and curtains on the front windows. “Outside” there’s a swing and plants.

A Hobbit house

This Salt Lake City, UT, playroom is based on Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Image: Walker Home Design

This Hobbit-inspired playhouse includes the classic round door and Hobbit-inspired furniture. Those are real stones on the pathway, and the cool wave slide is just for fun. The greenery blends into the mural in the background. It’s important to include your child’s interests in playroom ideas. If they like it, they’re more likely to spend time in this area. Incorporate a variety of activities to keep your child’s interest and ensure that they don’t’ get bored. This room combines physical activities with opportunities to sit down and read or be creative.

A tent

A Tent

This Dorset, England, tent playroom brings the great outdoors inside. Image: Cuckooland

Camping doesn’t get any easier than this playroom with a tent cabin bed. The two poles hold the cloth side of the canopy bed up. However, the canopy is collapsible to provide a true camping experience.  To ensure your little one doesn’t get frightened when the canopy is down, the colorful lights strung from the top keep the tent from getting too dark – and create the appearance of stars in the sky. There’s also another exit on the right side, to ensure no one ever gets trapped in the tent.

A pirate ship

A pirate ship

Imagine searching for sunken treasures in this pirate-themed Minneapolis playroom. Image: Kuhl Design Build LLC

Your child can spend hours pretending to be Captain Jack Sparrow (or Capn Crunch) while sailing to far away lands in this pirate-themed playroom. The hull of the ship, which has cannon ports, was built in the area above the doorway and is accessed by a bridge made of planks. Inside the pirate ship, there’s a climbing wall and a slide.  Below the ship, there’s a jail cell that includes a lockable gate.

Climbing wall and slide

climbing wall slide

Kids can slide into this Victoria, British Columbia, playroom. Image: Horizon Contracting

The CDC recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and this playroom idea can help your little ones to meet those guidelines. Since it’s indoors, the weather is never a factor. The climbing wall increases physical strength, coordination, and balance, while the tube slide – well, that’s just fun.

A miniature town

Grandchildren's Suite

The Grandchildren’s suite in Charlotte, NC. Image: Andrew Roby General Contractor

This playroom has everything from cabins and deer to trees painted on the walls and birds flying overhead. Kids can play with each other in the common areas (which include tables, chairs, and wall-mounted TVs) and also spend time alone in their respective mini cabins, which include a bed, table, lamp, and personal effects.  Each cabin is actually a playhouse kit that can be assembled with screws and nails. The kit includes functional windows, flower boxes, a door, wall panels, roof panels, and a handrail.

What are your favorite playroom ideas? Let us know in the comments.

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Keep Your Home Healthy During Flu Season

flu season

Small changes – like a bowl of fruit on the counter to make it easy to eat nutritiously – can help you keep your home healthy this flu season. Image: TLA Studio

‘Tis the season. No, not just for the holidays. The fall marks the start of flu season. Although it’s tricky to predict flu season’s peak (the CDC reports that it could fall anywhere between November and March), it’s no secret that the winter is a time for sickness. You can’t control everything, unfortunately. Your coworkers will come to the office ill. The flu will spread in your kids’ schools. But you can control your own home. Taking some steps to keep your home healthy this flu season can make all the difference.

Before you batten down the hatches and hole up for the winter, consider a more moderate approach. Making some small but meaningful changes to your house or apartment can make it easier to fend off the flu even as you lead your normal life. We’ve rounded up some tips and tricks to help you keep your home – and your family – in good health this flu season.

flu season bathroom

A pleasant, well-stocked hand washing area encourages everyone to keep their hands germ-free. Image: The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn

Encourage hand washing

It’s not rocket science. From the time we’re small kids, we’re told that washing our hands prevents the spread of germ and sickness. This is definitely not a season to skimp on sudsing up. Even though you can control how much you wash your own hands, you can only force your family members to scrub up so often. Instead of having to constantly remind people of the importance of this action, why not take a more subtle – but equally effective – approach?

In each bathroom, set up a nice hand washing station. Get good smelling soap and soft hand towels. Consider adding a moisturizer (winter is a time for dry skin, too), a scented candle and whatever other touches would amp up the pleasantness of the hand washing area. Essentially, your goal should be to make washing your hands such a nice experience that no one who visits your home would even think of skipping it.

Disinfect everything

The winter is not a time to skimp on cleaning. If you don’t already, make it a habit to disinfect your countertops, door knobs, light switches and cabinet handles or pulls every few days. Also, keep that washing machine busy. If sickness is going around your office or your kids’ school, wash sheets and towels more frequently than normal. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to include your dish towels. Ideally, you should be swapping them out for clean ones every other day or so.

Extend past the standard disinfecting tasks, too. Did you know that toothbrushes can be run through the dishwasher? Did you know you can microwave your sponges to kill bacteria? Look for the porous or soft areas of your home where germs could live and take steps to keep them sanitized. We’ve created a list of the nasty nine – key places you need to be cleaning – to help you keep your home healthy this flu season.

flu season bed

Make it enticing to get the rest your body needs to stay healthy this winter. Image: A+B KASHA Designs

Set up your beds

We already mentioned that you should be washing your bedding on a regular basis, but don’t just throw it back on the bed. Create a cozy space where you’ll want to curl up. Sleep is one of your body’s biggest tools in combating illness. Getting enough shut-eye is absolutely critical if you want to stay healthy this flu season.

Do whatever it takes to get yourself and your family to bed at a time where you’ll all get enough sleep. If your daughter wants to add twinkle lights above her bed, do it. If you want an extra cozy throw to tempt yourself to unplug from your day earlier, get it. Sleep is one of your greatest allies this winter.

Stay supplied

Make it easy to do right by your body this winter and you’re more likely to stay healthy. This means stocking your fridge and pantry with nutritious, whole food. Add a bowl of fruit to your kitchen counter to make it easy for you to grab fresh produce and give your body what it needs to fend off illness. Foods rich in antioxidants are especially important during flu season.

Similarly, make it simple to stay hydrated. Add water carafes or water bottles to everyone’s nightstands. If your family isn’t a big fan of plain water, start infusing it with fruit or herbs (lemon, mint, cucumber and strawberries are great options to start) to entice everyone to get the fluids their bodies need to stay healthy.

Use these tips to keep yourself, your family and your home healthy this flu season. Do you have any other recommendations to combat the flu season? Let us know in the comments.

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19 Fortnite Gifts For A Battle Royale Home

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If you haven’t heard of Fortnite, you must have been off of planet Earth for the last year. The online battle game has become so popular it has over 125 million players worldwide. And it’s responsible for some of the funniest (and most awkward) dances around, like the Floss and Orange Justice.

With so many Fortnite fanatics around, it’s likely you know at least one or two. We’ve got a cool roundup of 19 Fortnite gifts for the home that turn any room into a Battle Royale arena this holiday season.

1. Eat Sleep Fortnite Repeat Vinyl Wall Decal Sticker, $25

Fortnite gifts for the home

2 – 7. Fort Nite Throw Pillows, $5 – $24

Fortnite gifts for the home
Fortnite gifts for the home
Fortnite gifts for the home
Fortnite gifts for the home
Fortnite gifts for the home
Fortnite gifts for the home

8. Keep It 100% Fortnite Unframed Print Poster, $10

Fortnite Christmas presents

9. Monopoly: Fortnite Edition, $16

Fortnite gift ideas

10. 3D Star Series Vinyl Floor Decal, $5

fortnite home decor gifts

11. Fortnite Alpaca 3D Illusion LED Night Light, $20

cool fortnite gifts loot llama

12. Fort Battle Drop Royale Bathroom Decor, $17

fortnite wall decor

13 – 16. Fortnite Coffee Chug Mugs, $9 – $18

fortnite wall decor
fortnite wall decor
fortnite wall decor
fortnite wall decor

17. Do Not Disturb Fortnite Door Sign, $15

fortnite gift ideas for the home

18. Fort-NITE 3D LED Chug Mug Night Light, $25

fortnite lamps

19. 20×20 Fortnite Battle Royale Map, $50fortnite battle royale gifts

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