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! 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links.  To find out what that means, click here.

10 Welsh Makers and Brands to Watch

With St David’s Day literally just around the corner, I thought I’d give a lil’ shout out to some local brands, creators and amazing entrepreneurial babes.  There’s so much creative talent here in Wales that we’re almost spoilt for choice!  So, if you’re on the hunt for a present for someone, or fancy treating yourself to a little somethin’ somethin’, you can’t go wrong with these fab local brands. 🙂

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Cymraes Badge from Dyfal Donc, Jumper from Oliver Bonas.

1. Dyfal Donc

I get a little misty-eyed seeing all the traditional welsh dress costumes in the kids section this time of year because it reminds me of wearing one myself as a kid.  So, instead of pinning an oh so traditional daffodil on my jumper this St David’s Day, I’ll be wearing my new ‘Cymraes’ (Welsh Woman) pin from Dyfal Donc to remember my Welsh Hat wearing days as a kid!  If you’re up on your Welsh proverbs you’ll recognise Dyfal Donc from that old phrase “dyfal donc a dyr y garreg” (Steady tapping breaks the stone – hard work always pays off in the end).  I love the saying, and I love almost everything in Dyfal Donc’s colourful online store, selling bilingual stationary, mugs, cards, pins (I’ve got my eye on their pink “Hogan Ddrwg” pin) and children’s clothing. 🙂

2. Liz Mosley

I first came across Liz’s beautiful hand drawn and lettered stationary over on Instagram and had total handwriting envy (yes, that’s a thing!).  From enamel pins and washi-tape to cards, gift wrap and prints she’s got your next birthday covered, and also does branding design and custom orders.  (And she also blogs 🙂 )

3. Welsh Girl Problems

My “Don’tcha” mug is my Monday Morning “let’s do this” mug (and also a sneaky reminder to my English husband that he bagged a good ‘un when he put a ring on this Welsh gal’s finger 😉 ). But there’s more than a cheeky mug or two in the Welsh Girl Problems online shop; the Rugby and Chill and Brenhines (Queen) jumpers are essential Six Nations wear for every Cymraes in the crowd.

4. Gold Freckles

A while back I noticed one of my favourite American Instagrammers wearing a lovely hand-knitted jumper and did the usual tag trawl to find out where it was from and couldn’t believe it when I found out it was handmade in Wales.  Goldfreckles is run by Saskia Thomas, who’s taken her hobby for knitting and opened up a made to order shop selling her gorgeous bell sleeved chunky knits.

5. Miss Patisserie

If you’re a Cardiff local and haven’t dropped by the Miss Patisserie store in High Street Arcade (right opposite another of my Cardiff faves, Barker Tea House), then you need to stop by pronto tonto as the products are just as sweet and as indulgent as the name suggests.  If not, fear not because you can also find their gorgeous Vegan Bath and Body products in Boots.

Miss Patisserie “Rosie” Bath Bomb

6. Maykher

“Be Bold, Brave, Bright and Kind for Womankind.”  I love the story behind Maykher.  Based in Cardiff Bay, ethical fashion brand Maykher sells women’s accessories created by “makers not machines” (from fabrics and materials traditionally created by makers in India, Haiti and Guatemala) and donate 10% of their profits to educating girls in poverty around the world.  ❤

7. Rhian Kate Makes

You all know how much I love my yellow tassel earrings from Rhian Kate Makes; I’ve barely taken them out since I got them.  As well as tassel earrings in every shade, Rhian creates beautiful pendants, necklaces and earrings each with her unique, handmade textured pewter moons.

Yellow Tassel Earrings by Rhian Kate Makes

8. Spectrum

Run by sisters Sophie and Hannah, Spectrum Brushes started up in a garage in Barry and now roll around the makeup bags of the rich and famous!  Their super-soft synthetic makeup brushes are not only vegan and cruelty-free (with handles made from FSC-certified wood), but are also the most colourful brushes you’ll ever own.

9. Sadler Jones

Created by designer Cath Jones and based in Cardiff, Sadler Jones is definitely one to watch if you’re a full-on stationary nerd like me! 😉  I’ve got a few of their cute cards in a drawer in my office for whenever a card-emergency arises!  But, they don’t only sell greeting cards, notebooks and gift wrap, they also sell pins, beautiful makeup bags and children’s clothes too.

10. Delicious Monster Tee

Run by Claire, Delicious Monster Tee sells oh so Instagrammable hand-embroidered T Shirts with slogans like “I’d rather be in Ibiza” and “Sorry, not sorry”, with even the option to create your own!

Who are your favourite Welsh designers and brands? 🙂

What I did: Gin and Juice and Christmas Shopping

I got up early yesterday and got into my little car determined to finish off my Christmas Shopping once and for all.  Four hours later I drove home completely and utterly  broken.  In between the crowds, The Pogues playing over and over again, the fact that I had to walk eight flights of stairs to get back to the car (to find that the eighth floor ticket machine was broken, ugh!) AND the fact that I came home empty handed (except for the GIANT bag of Tim Horton’s goodies that rode shotgun all the way home), I left down but not defeated!

I don’t know what happened this year; I’ve never left the Christmas Shopping this late!


I got a little bit distracted by the massive sale going on in Warehouse and was kind of tempted by this star-print wrap dress that’s a bit of a dupe for the hilarious expensive Realisation Par one.  But then I totally fell in love with this cherry print shirt dress which is definitely going on my January Sales wishlist.


When my feet started to feel like they were going to drop off I stopped in at Barker’s cosy new offering – Gin and Juice – for a mid-shop slurp.  (The gin and cocktail menu looked amazing, but – dammit – I couldn’t indulge because I was driving 😦 )


Walked back through Cardiff Market to scout out some Christmas veg and drool over the Christmas Tree shaped Welsh Cakes at Bakestones (might have to make up a batch myself tomorrow if I’ve got time!).  Then I headed home (after having a small meltdown in the car park) to wrap some presents 🙂



That’s me out!  Have a lovely Christmas everyone – Nadolig Llawen! X

What I Did Last Weekend: Christmas Shopping and Country Walks

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Last weekend started off a little earlier than usual because Sunny’s little sister came to stay with us.  On Friday I took her into Cardiff for some Christmas Shopping, which started off with breakfast at my favourite cosy nook, Barker Tea House.  Tina had a massive bowl dog dish of porridge, and I went for their blueberry and bacon pancake stack. 🙂



Here’s one of the weirdest things I did last weekend; I had my face turned into chocolate!  I mean, I have chocolate on my face all the time, so when Candy Mechanics asked if I wanted to be temporarily immortalised as chocolate lollipop – it was just too weird an opportunity to pass up!  They’ve set up shop outside Debenhams in St David’s until the 23rd of December, and for £7 you can create a chocolate selfie!  A perfect stocking filler, don’t ya think?



You can also create your own Chocolate Christmas Cards to send to your favourite people… or you, know, just to scoff yourself 🙂

I think almost everyone put their decorations up last weekend, us included!  Sunny hates doing it (apparently I’m really fussy about it!  Pfft!), so he very kindly enlisted Tina to help out instead.  We got the tree and all the other bits up in record time; what took longest was convincing Bungle that the tinsel, fir and fairy light invaders weren’t scary.  He barked at the wreath on the door all afternoon and still won’t go near the tree.  What a wimp!


On Sunday, I took a couple of birthday presents out for a spin (The Oliver Bonas Jumper is hands down the cosiest, fluffiest jumper I’ve ever owned) and went out for a wintery walk.


We parked up in the tiny village of Michaelston-Le-Pit and picked up the Salmon Leap Trail, which follows Wrinstone Brook and is apparently full of Salmon in the spring.  It’s amazing how many lovely walks there are out in the Vale; now that Bungle’s able to walk a bit further it’ll fun to go exploring next year 🙂








Have a lovely week everyone! x

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide

Happy December 1st!  It finally feels like Christmas is on its way, and I LOVE Cardiff at Christmas.  I popped in last week for my first bit of festive shopping and now I’m all excited for Christmas – bring on the Mince Pies, Queen’s Speech and Brussell Sprouts please!  It’s hands down my favourite time of year to potter around town (even if you’ve got to be up at the crack of dawn to have any hope of getting a parking space… pfft!).  The arcades suddenly look like something out of Harry Potter and the smell of bratwurst burning can only ever be a wonderful thing.  I put together a little Christmas Shopping Guide like this full of my favourite places in Cardiff to prowl for gifts last year, but here’s the new and improved edition! 🙂

Homeware & Gifts

Flying Tiger (St Davids Centre)

Perfect for: Quirky homeware, stationary and stocking fillers.  Tiger is one of my favourite places to hit if I’m having people over because they’ve always got the best (and cheapest!) party supplies.  When it comes to banners, cake decorations, candles, napkins and nick nacks Tiger is the place to go, and at the moment they’ve got some great Christmas themed decorations and party bits and bobs.

Illustrate (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Graphic prints, T Shirts and artwork.  Sunny and I absolutely love Illustrate’s geometric animal prints – we’ve got a whole gallery of them!

Miss Patisserie (7, High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Handmade Cosmetics, Bath Bombs, Candles. Tucked away in one of the Victorian Arcades (just off St John Street) Miss Patisserie is my go-to if I’ve got a pamper session planned – their bath balls are the bomb-diggity (much slower to fizzle out than, y’know, that *other* highstreet handmade cosmetics brand, and they create beautiful tie-dye swirls in the tub).  All their products are handmade, vegan and cruelty free and downright gorgeous.

The Joke Shop (24, High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Fancy Dress Costumes and practical jokes.  My brother and I used to love hitting up the joke shop when we were kids – it’s perfect if you’re planning a fancy dress night out at Christmas, or you’ve got pranks planned around the Christmas dinner table, or for fun stocking fillers.

Home byKirsty (16, Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Scandi-style homeware and stationary.  Awarded best new business in the 2015 Cardiff Life Awards, Home byKirsty showcases statement pieces like lights, cushions, mugs and other accessories for the home.  Definitely worth a look if you’re looking to buy a present for someone who’s just moved house!

Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Unique handmade gifts, artwork and food.  If there’s someone on your gift list that’s impossible to buy for and you’re tearing your hair out over them then a stroll around the stalls should do the trick.  I took my friend Missy there the other day and she bought a lovely clock made from a melted down bottle of Bombay Sapphire (GiftGlass), and then Sunny and I treated ourselves to a few prints we liked for the house from Illustrate.  You can find a directory of all this year’s stalls here.

Cardiff Indoor (Central) Market (St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts (welshcakes!) and vegetables for Christmas dinner, homeware, sewing and crafty gifts, vinyl records.

Forbidden Planet (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Comic books, cult action figures and collectibles.  If you’ve got a Sheldon Cooper to buy for then you’ll already know about Forbidden Planet and are probably a frequent visitor. 🙂

Oliver Bonas (St David’s 2 – The Hayes)

Perfect for: Bright and colourful shop offering quirky homeware and gifts – also fashion and accesories.  I wrote a whole post about it here.

The Pen & Paper (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Pens and Paper!  The best place to go for ink, card, pens, notebooks and diaries.

Kitchens Cookshop (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Everything kitchen, cooking and baking related.  Guaranteed if I get a strange utensil or quirky cooking-related item from my Mum at Christmas time (and I always do!) then this is the shop it’s most likely come from.

Rules of Play (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Board games, Role Playing Games etc.

Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers.

Fashion & Jewellery

Coast (St David’s 2 – downstairs)

Perfect for: Jewellery, accessories and Christmas Party outfits.  Remember, Coast are currently offering all my readers 20% off – just mention “The Cardiff Cwtch” at the checkout!

Hobos (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Vintage and secondhand fashion.

Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)

Perfect for: Ski, skate and surf shop selling main brands of clothing and equipment for adults and kids.

Food & Drink

Wally’s Delicatessen (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts.  Wally’s has its own unique aroma, you’ll smell the spices and cured meat long before you step inside.  It’s definitely the place to go if you’re looking for things to go into a Christmas hamper as well as hot sauces, biscuits, chocolates, cheeses, pannettone and Christmas pudding.

Wally’s Drinks (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Wines, drinks and spirits.  I was strolling through Castle Arcade the other day and stumbled across this new (new to me anyway!) branch of Wally’s.  Perfect if you’re looking to gift some quirky drinks or liquors, or stock up for New Year’s Eve!

Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

Madame Fromage (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Cheesy gifts, literally!  Specialty cheeses and hampers.

Books & Music

Spillers (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: CDs and Vinyl.  The world’s oldest record shop and a Cardiff institution.  ‘Nuff said.

Cranes (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Gifts for musicians.  Cranes is the Mecca for Cardiff Musicians and the place to go to buy instruments and accessories.

Troutmark Books (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Lovely secondhand book store tucked away in Castle Arcade.

Welsh-themed Gifts

Bodlon (Yr Hen Lyfrgell, The Hayes – and also 12 Park Road, Whitchurch)

Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts.  Beautiful homeware, welsh language books, prints and stationary by welsh artists, toys and locally produced chocolates and alcohol.  They’ve also got some beautiful tree ornaments and decorations at the moment.

Castle Welsh Crafts (Castle Street – opposite Cardiff Castle)

Perfect for: Welsh themed gifts, love spoons, slate and souvenirs.  Castle Crafts has been around for donkey’s years and it’s no wonder because it’s the best place to go for all things Wales – especially love spoons.

Pitstops

Because all that Christmas Shopping is nackering!  It’s nice to have somewhere to go for coffee and a snack!

Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)

Crumb’s (Morgan Arcade)

The Plan (Morgan Arcade)

Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Arcade)

The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)

 

If you’ve got any Cardiff Christmas Shopping suggestions then I’d love to hear them – I’m always discovering new favourites! 🙂