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Our Garden

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I think this is the first year in a while where we’ve had a proper summer.  So far, anyway!  And because the weather has been so nice we’ve spent loads of time out in the garden scoffing barbecue food and just soaking in the sun like the little solar powered creatures we are.  When we moved in to our house three years ago, the back garden didn’t really exist – it was just a muddy slope.  Three years (and a lot of hard work) later and it’s finally looking good.  I mean, it’s still a work in progress, but this is the first year that a lot of the plants we put in during those early days have blossomed.  It’s definitely one of my favourite places to chill – and it’s one of Bungle’s favourite places too (although he can’t really be trusted on his own out there because he likes to dig!). 🙂



Against the back fences we planted a couple of climbing roses that finally seem to be growing!  You know me, I love roses, and so I definitely wanted some in my garden.  Luckily our soil is perfect for growing roses in, although they’re way more upkeep than I thought they’d be; they constantly need spraying to get rid of insects and fungus, and trimming back to encourage more roses.



For my birthday last year Sunny bought me these colourful hanging pots which I absolutely love!  We filled them with pansies and geraniums and it nice having a bit of extra colour on an otherwise boring brown fence. 🙂



Lavender Cream Cookies

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Whenever I see lavender flavoured things I get Kimmy Schmidt in my head protesting that “Lavender isn’t a flavour, it’s a smell!!!”  And that’s true, you’re more likely to find lavender in my face cream than in my kitchen.  But you know what?  I kind of like it.  It’s not a strong taste – it’s pretty subtle – but it’s there, and pairs really well with vanilla and lemon.  A few weeks ago I made a honey cake for my Dad’s birthday and finished it off with a layer of lavender icing, which, I’ve gotta admit, was probably the best bit (icing’s always the best bit 🙂 ).  Anyway, I had some leftover, so I thought I’d sandwich it between two vanilla, oatmeal cookies.

Lavender Creams

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 100g Butter
  • 100g Dark Brown Sugar
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100g Porridge Oats
  • 200g Plain Flour

For the cream:

  • 300g Icing Sugar
  • 150g Salted Butter
  • Dash of Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Lavender Flavouring (Make sure you buy edible lavender flavouring, you can’t just squirt in some lavender oil!)
  • A couple of drops of purple food colouring.
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 and line a clean baking tray.
  2. Cream together your butter, brown sugar and caster sugar until it’s nice and creamy, then beat in the eggs – adding them one at a time.
  3. Throw in all the dry ingredients and stir together until well combined.  Spoon the mixture in blobs onto the baking tray (try and make sure you’ve got an even number) and bake for about 10 minutes until the edges turn golden brown.  Leave to cool.
  4. While the cookies are cooking, make up your lavender filling by creaming together your icing sugar, butter and flavourings.
  5. Once the cookies are out of the oven, pair them up and then sandwich together with the lavender cream in the middle. 🙂

Have a lovely week everyone! X

10 Lifesaving Products for Dog Owners

It’s been a while since I spammed you with snaps of Bungle, and what better way to do it than to tack on a list of ten items that – as a dog mama – I seriously couldn’t live without.  Paw-renthood has had a pretty steep learning curve for us; Sunny had never had a dog before and neither had I, and we both come from families with two very houseproud matriarchs.  So we pretty much had to figure things out for ourselves from the get-go.  Thankfully, a year on and we’ve finally settled into a bit of a groove in large part thanks to these fantastic bits and bobs. 🙂

1. A Good Vacuum Cleaner

Not all dogs shed, but Bungle does – and we soon worked out that our old Henry Hoover just wasn’t cutting it when it came to sucking up the balls of Bungle fluff that roll across our hard floors like tumbleweed.  Not only that, but it was a bloody nightmare getting it out of the cupboard every day and then putting it away again.  So, about six months ago we bit the bullet and bought a very fancy Dyson V8.  WHAT. A. GAME. CHANGER.  Honestly, they’re expensive – yes – but 100% worth it (Although I’m sure there are some great cordless dupes out there).  They’re powerful, roll over hard floors and carpets like a dream and – perhaps more importantly – they’re easy to use; no fussing with cables and lugging a heavy unit around.  It makes keeping on top of the shedding so easy.

2. A De-Shedding Brush

Another must-have for fluffier breeds!  When Bungle started shedding his puppy fluff, we soon worked out that the standard grooming brush was – surprise, surprise! – just a brush, and wasn’t doing anything to actually remove all the dead dog hair that ends up floating around the floor.  So, we picked up this de-shedding brush from Amazon which cuts through all the dead hairs and therefore prevents further shedding (which means less vacuuming!).

3. Car Seat Hammock & Belt

I miss those days where I could just hold Bungle on my lap in the car; we outgrew them pretty quickly!  Bungle’s not great in the car, he gets sick easily (he once threw up out of the window and pebble-dashed the back of our car AND the one behind us…), he struggles with unpredictable twists and turns and insists on having his head out of the window.  As well as a pet blanket for the back seat, we also bought a black hammock that loops over the back and front headrests; it primarily protects the car seats but it also creates a comfortable, secure space for big dogs to sit (and isn’t too affected by the car’s movement).  Because Bungle likes to stick his head out of the window we bought a belt to secure him in; it clicks into a seat-belt plug and then clips onto Bungle’s harness and stops him from jumping out of the window… which he would if he could! 🙂

4. A Steam Mop

Bungle loves rolling in muddy puddles and living in Wales, wet walks are part and parcel of the whole dog ownership gig.  Luckily, we’ve got hard flooring downstairs so in theory it should be easy to clean up after him.  In the beginning we’d wipe Bungle’s paws and body with a towel to try and clean him off after wet walks, but it was such a pain and didn’t really work.  And – like our old vacuum cleaner – my old vileda sponge mop and bucket just weren’t cutting it when it came to removing mud and dust from the floor.  We picked up a steam mop a couple of months ago and I absolutely love it.  It uses plain old water and comes with two pads that you can just throw in the washing machine once you’ve used them.  Plus, when I wash them with fabric softener, the scent after mopping the floors is so nice!

5. Drying Jacket

Sticking to the whole Wet Dog theme, here’s a great product tip we picked up from a couple of fellow Golden Retriever owners we bumped into on Barry Island.  If you’re fed up of trying to quickly throw a towel over your dog before they shake water and mud up your walls, then you need one of these babies.  Drying Jackets are not only hilarious (they’re like hoodies for dogs), but they work like a dressing gown.  You put them on when they’re wet and the fabric absorbs all the water in their fur, but more importantly, when they shake off, it catches everything.  Bungle loves his, in the winter he loves falling asleep in it.

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6. Treat Dispensing Toys

Bungle’s got plenty of toys that he loves (and loves destroying – like the squeaky lion that he’s slowly balding and the duck that he’s decapitated several times…), but none are more useful than the ones that keep him busy!  We’ve got a Kong that I stuff with yoghurt, banana and cheese and then freeze, and a ball that releases treats gradually, but my favourite one has to be this snake toy I picked up in Home Bargains.  Taped up cereal boxes full of treats also do the trick (as long as you don’t mind clearing up soggy bits of cardboard afterwards…!).



7. The Right Collar and Lead

This is one that we’re still trying to work out!  We’ve tried so many different types of lead and Bungle seems to be stronger than all of them.  We started off with a harness, but that didn’t work and it only seemed to make him stronger (we still use the harness when we’re out and about and in the car, but not while walking)Then we tried extendable leads, and he snapped the whole lot – even the super strong ones.  That was fun!  And then we tried a super strong bungee lead… which again, he snapped.  He actually broke the metal clasp.  So… we moved on to a Halti which loops around the snout and is supposed to stop dogs from pulling.  Basically whenever Bungle tries to pull us across the street to say hello to a dog/human/cat/squirrel/moving leaf that he’s spotted, it pulls his face to the side and prevents most of the pulling.  It worked to begin with, but Bungle’s got a strong neck and seems to have worked out a way around it – to everyone’s surprise.  So next we’re moving on to something similar called a Canny Collar which pulls his nose up when he pulls instead of to the side.

8. Pet Nanny Cam

I know, it sounds ridiculous – but stick with me on this one!  Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to us to buy a nanny cam for Bungle, but my Mum and Dad were thinking five steps ahead of us (parents, they think they’re so smart… and they are!) when they bought it as a Christmas Present.  It’s basically a live camera that you can tune into through WiFi at any time via an app on your phone.  We installed it in our kitchen on top of our extractor fan and were absolutely amazed at the quality, even at night.  It gives us peace of mind whenever we leave Bungle on his own; when we’re out and about we can tune in and see what he’s up to (/see what he’s destroying).  Now we don’t feel like we have to race back.  There are loads of brands out there, but we’ve got this one.

9. Puppy Pads, Stain Remover & Wet Wipes

Bungle rarely has an accident inside these days, but we still use all the toilet training bits and bobs we picked up in the beginning pretty much every day.  Wet Wipes are always handy for cleaning paws and ears, and Puppy Pads are great to put on the door mat in the winter to dry off wet paws (the largest and cheapest puppy pads can be found at Home Bargains 😉 ).  A good Stain Remover is a MUST.  This one is our go-to; not only did it completely remove a massive diarrhea poop stain from a pale carpet without trace (Bungle’s allergic to chicken and we definitely found that one out the hard way), but it’s also a must-have for toilet training as it blasts urine stains, gets rid of the odour and prevents repeat marking.

10. Travel Water Bowl

Cafes and outdoor spaces around town are becoming more dog friendly these days, but you just can’t guarantee you’re going to come across a water bowl when you’re out and about.  We picked up this travel bottle which comes with a attached plastic trough for easy water breaks on the go.  It is a bit clunky and I’m sure there are more compact versions, but this one works well for us.

Dog owners, what are your holy grail items?  What’s your dog’s favourite toy?  Let me know! 🙂

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“I haven’t got time for breakfast” Breakfast Burritos

Hey there Monday, here we go again!  So come on then, hands up; who hit the snooze button a few too many times this morning?  Did you have that sudden panic roll out of bed when you realised how late it was?  Did you fog your hair with dry shampoo because you didn’t have time for a shower?  Did you leave a cold cup of tea on the kitchen counter and decide to skip breakfast?

We’ve all had one of those mornings.  So, here’s something to keep in the bottom drawer of your freezer for next time!  I love making these Breakfast Burritos when I’ve got a bit of time on the weekend.  You can put whatever you like inside them, then just wrap them in foil and freeze them for the next time you need breakfast on the go!  Just take off the wrapping and whack them in the microwave for five minutes with a cup of water (nifty trick to keep the tortilla nice and soft 😉 ).  Boom.

Veggie Breakfast Burritos (with Halloumi)

Ingredients

  • 6 Large Tortilla Wraps
  • 1 Large diced Baking Potato
  • 1 Diced Red Romano Pepper
  • 150g Mexican Beans Mix
  • 1 Tin of Chopped Tomatos
  • 1 Block of Halloumi, diced
  • 50g Chopped Coriander
  • 50g Smoked Paprika
  • 4 Eggs
  • 100ml Milk
  • Your favourite grated cheese
  • Butter to grease
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Boil up the potatoes in salted water until they’re just on the cusp of softening (about 15 minutes), then drain.
  2. Add the potatoes, pepper, tomatoes, beans and halloumi into a large saucepan.  Fry on a medium heat with paprika and a little butter for about half an hour until all the flavours have combined, then stir in the chopped coriander and remove from the heat.
  3. In a separate pan, whisk together the milk and eggs with a little butter, then scramble!  Stir into the cooked burrito mix, along with the grated cheese and then share equally between your six tortillas.
  4. I like to wrap them in foil and then freeze or refrigerate them until I’m ready to eat them.  You can heat them up in the oven in around 30 minutes if you’ve got time, or remove the foil and blitz in the microwave.

Can you believe it’s June already?  Yikes!  Have a great week, whatever you’re up to! 🙂

What I Did: The Volvo Ocean Race Cardiff Stopover

I’ve got to be honest, I’m not that bothered about boats.  I’ve manned a boat maybe three times in my life, and none of those voyages were particularly successful.  Two of them involved getting tangled in some pretty thick pond weed under a willow on Roath Park Lake, and the other time was on honeymoon when Sunny decided that he wanted to try a two-man kayak.  Honestly?  I was absolutely knackered from rowing before we’d even made it out of the dock and whinged the whole way round (“Can we pleeeeease go back to the beach now?”).

So when Sunny suggested we pop down to Cardiff Bay to see the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover, I agreed to go on the proviso that we’d have our own stopover in Compass Coffee for breakfast Cronuts. 🙂

Sunny went for the Eggs Hebredian (Eggs Benedict with some added juicy black pudding), I had the Sticky Toffee and Custard Cronut and can confirm that it was 👌👌👌



After breakfast we walked over the Barrage towards The Boatyard.  I didn’t know much about the actual race before I got there, but it’s been running since the seventies.  Back in October, the boats weighed anchor in Alicante and set off on a nine month race around the world, with stopovers in just twelve cities.  And this year, Cardiff was picked as the stopping port after the tiring Atlantic leg.  Unfortunately, the boats hadn’t actually arrived when we were there on Sunday (they came in very early on Tuesday morning after being slowed down by some bad weather – welcome to Wales!), but there was more than enough to see and do (and eat!).  They’re docked in Cardiff until the 10th of June, when they’ll set off for Gothenburg.  While they’re here there’s plenty going on in and around The Bay, including workshops, demonstrations and a couple of races on Friday the 8th and Saturday the 9th of June (you can find out a bit more about what’s on here).


Despite being “not bothered about boats” the workshops and stalls were actually really interesting – particularly the Volvo Building; you can learn more about the race, the boats and how bloody hard the teams work during each leg.  You can also hop into a replica of one of the actual racing boats, and even attempt to dock one using a simulator.  Lots of cool stuff to do.  We got down there at about 11 in the morning and before we knew it, it was pushing 4!


As well as the stalls devoted to the race, there were also a few flying the flag for Wales (including some fab local food stalls), like Visit Wales, where you can try out a Virtual Reality version of some activities and experiences on offer around the country – like rocketing down the side of Snowdon on a Zip Line and diving with dolphins. 🙂





I’ll never complain about rowing around Roath Park again!  Definitely worth heading down to Cardiff Bay and checking out the Stopover while it’s in town – the boats are shipping off on the 10th of June.

Have a great weekend! 🙂