4 Bungle Stories to make you Smile

Don’t Stop… Retrieving!
Golden Retriever Stories - The Cardiff Cwtch

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Bungle-themed post, in spite of the fact that he appears in almost all the photographs I pop up on the blog and on social media. Let’s be honest, he’s pretty much the star of this show – and everyone’s favourite Goldie. He makes me laugh every single day (as well as my neighbours, who get to see me being humped up and down the street by him) and is literally this woman’s best friend.

Sunny and I were having a chat the other day about some of the funniest things Bungle’s done over the past couple of years and I thought it was high time for a bit of a pup-date and a look back over a couple of his finest moments, as well as some recent corkers…

Golden Retriever Stories - The Cardiff Cwtch

The Terrifying Child-Eating Lion

If you follow me on Social Media (either over on Twitter or Instagram), then there’s absolutely no way you’ll have missed being spammed by pictures of Bungle in his Lion get-up (sorry, not sorry). Sunny bought the lion mane a couple of years ago after seeing that Amazon Prime advert to surprise me for my birthday, and we just couldn’t resist having some fun with it this Halloween. It’s one of Bungle’s favourite nights of the year because we get lots and lots of visitors ringing the doorbell, and plenty of kids trick or treating because there are loads of young families in our neighbourhood. They all know and love Bungle because he’s such a happy, friendly dog, and so we’re always on the list of houses to stop at. This year, we were prepared. We popped a sign outside the front door with our pumpkins that read “Beware of the Child-Eating Lion”, set up some lion noises to play over our TV speakers, and had Bungle all dressed up and ready to roar.

The first couple of kids were nervous ringing the doorbell, but absolutely loved it when we opened the door and Bungle came rushing out to greet them – so much so that the massive bowl of chocolate I was holding got completely sidelined… for a minute or so, anyway. “Is that a real lion?!” one little girl asked as Bungle slurped at her hand. Some kids laughed and then went straight for the chocolate (“My dog’s got one of those!”), and there were a few younger ones who were nervous until we told them that it was just Bungle dressed up in his own Halloween costume.

Then there were the two kids who knocked the door, took one look at Bungle and then legged it off down the road screaming, “IT’S A REAL LION!!!” Hilarious.

Golden Retriever Stories - The Cardiff Cwtch

The Cheese Thief

Bungle absolutely loves cheese (I mean, what dog doesn’t?); while he takes begging to the next level with the way he sits in front of you drooling with his big brown eyes, he’s always been really well behaved when it comes to taking food that doesn’t belong to him. He’s never stolen food off the table or the kitchen counters, and so we’ve always trusted him and been happy to leave most things sitting out when we’re in the middle of cooking or eating. Or so we thought.

I decided to treat Sunny to an epic Mexican feast one night – Quesadillas, Nachos, the works – and I’d bought some really nice Applewood-smoked cheese to use (you can’t have Mexican food without cheese, thems the rules). I prepared the Quesadillas whilst Sunny grated a nice big pile of cheese onto a chopping board, ready to top the Nachos. I cooked up filling, fed Bungle his dinner, and then we left everything out to assemble once we were ready to eat.

About half an hour later, Sunny got hungry and told me that he was going to start putting everything together while I curled up with Bungle on the sofa and carried on watching TV. A minute later, there was a shout from the kitchen, “Oi, what did you do with the cheese?” I shrugged and shouted back, “Nothing, I haven’t moved it. You must have.” He shouted back, “Well it’s not here, you must have moved it. Did you put it in the fridge or something?” I groaned as I paused the TV and stomped through to the kitchen to profess my innocence, “I haven’t touched the bloody cheese – YOU grated it, you must have moved it!”

The chopping board was there, the cheese grater was there, but the mountain of cheese had completely disappeared. There wasn’t even a shred of it left behind – just a light glaze over the chopping board where it had been sitting. We puzzled over it for a couple of minutes until I found a small thread of blonde hair hanging off the chopping board. A good few minutes passed while we doubted it, until we went through into the lounge where Bungle was curled up on the sofa and sniffed his very smoky, very cheesy breath.

Golden Retriever Stories - The Cardiff Cwtch

The Pheasant

We’re really lucky to have an open field within a few feet of where we live and of course, it’s Bungle’s favourite place in the whole world. In the winter he loves heading up there to chase kids playing around on sleds, and in the summer he loves rolling around in the long grass. It’s also my favourite place to walk him because he tends to misbehave for me on the lead (he drags me around and humps my legs and just generally turns me into the neighbourhood laughing stock…) – the field is enclosed, so I can just let him off to run around and do his thing, and usually he’s really well behaved. Usually.

I took him up there one Sunday morning; we walked a whole lap without a problem and I was just about to call him over to put him back on the lead when he went sniffing around in one of the hedges. I stood waiting patiently for a couple of minutes, and then pulled a face when I saw him emerge with what looked like a bright red t shirt. Bit odd, I thought, as I watched him drag it out and trot towards me. I got a better look as he brought it over; it was a red, green and brown t shirt. With a beak. And EYES. It wasn’t a t shirt, it was actually a very dead, very fresh pheasant.

When I yelped, Bungle legged it off into the field – thrashing the limp body of the pheasant around in a shower of red and green feathers. Stupidly, I chased after him. I mean was I actually going to grab the dead pheasant when (IF) he stopped? No way was I playing that game of tug of war. So instead I tried to lure him over with treats. He wasn’t interested. I tried to run away from him. He wasn’t interested (and was now lying down with the pheasant and starting to rip it apart). I played dead, hoping he’d panic and rush over to see if I was okay. He didn’t notice. Dick. Despairing, I eventually called Sunny and begged him to come and rescue me, and as soon as he appeared over the crest of the hill like bloody Julie Andrews about to break into song, Bungle dropped the pheasant and went rushing over to greet him. DICK.

The New Coat

Bungle’s got a lot of floof (the technical term for his fur), and so not only does he shed like crazy (we have to hoover every single day or we get balls of it rolling across the hard floors like tumble weed), but wet walks are a nightmare. His fur seems to absorb it like a sponge, and the fur hanging from his belly soaks up all the wet dirt and grit from the street too.

While it’s just something you’ve got to expect when you get a dog, if there’s anything that can make life a little easier then I’m all for it. Wales is a wet place; it rains pretty much 80% of the year. He’s got a towel jumper that we throw on him if he’s really wet (stops him shaking mud onto my walls), but this year I decided to bite the bullet and convinced Sunny to get him an anorak. With a hood.

Yes, he looks ridiculous – but you know what? It works! Now he comes back from his walks soggy rather than soaked, and I’ll take that. But he gets far more attention than he usually does when he wears it, so he’s happy! 🙂

Golden Retriever Stories - The Cardiff Cwtch

If you want more from Bungle and fancy keeping up with his daily shenanigans, he’s got his very own Instagram. Have a lovely weekend! 🐶🐶🐶

6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween

Get ready to be the Hot House on the Trick or Treaters Hit List…
6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

Happy *almost* Halloween from this incredibly ferocious maneating(/cuddling) lion and I! Last year I spent Halloween out in Florida. Sunny and I crashed a costume party dressed up as Spongebob Squarepants and a Pineapple (I drew the short straw on that one…), went to a pumpkin patch (in 90° Floridian heat…), experienced an All Hallows Eve straight out of Hocus Pocus with lots and lots of Trick or Treaters, and just generally had an amazing time experiencing Halloween across the pond. But – obviously – I missed Bungle; he absolutely LOVES Halloween because we get lots and lots of visitors (his favourite thing), and he tends to get a lot of extra attention especially when we dress him up. I’m excited to be home for Halloween this year, but I’ve been really lazy getting myself organised for it. I finally got around to picking up a couple of pumpkins and some sweets for the Trick or Treaters this morning (hopefully I can resist and not end up scoffing them between now and Thursday night…), but I’m not going to have time to do any baking this week or come up with a brand new, Halloween-inspired recipe – so instead, here are six spooky recipes from the archives that are frightfully good (…yeesh). 😉

6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

Spooky Doooooooooonuts

Halloween Doughnuts, Spooky Doughnuts for Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

If you’ve never made doughnuts at home before then you’ll honestly be blown over by how easy they are to make – especially if you’ve got a breadmaker or mixer with a dough hook. These Spooky Doooooonuts (see what I did there?) are almost too cute to eat, and are the perfect treat to take along to a Halloween Party or have next to the door once the Trick or Treaters really get going. Once you’ve fried the doughnuts, all you need is a bit of royal icing and some chocolate gel to pipe on the eyes – easy peasy! And I defy you not to laugh every time you offer someone a *spooky voice* doooooooooonut. 🙂

Bloody Beetroot Freaky Fries

Halloween Freaky Fries, Beetroot Freaky Fries - The Cardiff Cwtch

These Bloody Beetroot Freaky Fries wouldn’t be out of place at Dracula’s Halloween Shindig or whatever party Hannibal Lecter’s throwing this year; the beetroots are sweet, the bacon’s salty, the sriracha gives everything a little kick, and the cheese… well, I don’t need to sell you on melted cheese, do I?  Also – bonus – cooking these will make you look like you’ve slaughtered someone; handling the beetroot is bloody messy – you’ve been warned!

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake - The Cardiff Cwtch

Hands up if you’ve ever thrown away all the guts after carving your pumpkin. Yup, me too. I think we’ve all been there; you get all excited to carve up your pumpkin, scoop out all the flesh and where does it all go? In the food bin. What a waste! This year, why not put all the good stuff to good use and whip up this very, very easy Leftover Pumpkin Traybake which not only makes use of the pumpkin flesh, but also the seeds to make a crunchy topping.

Bag o’ Bombs Doughnuts

Halloween Donut Holes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Trust me, learning how to whip up your own dozen doughnuts is just as DANGEROUS as a real bag o’ bombs. Once you’ve got the recipe for the dough down, you’ll be making them all the time! These Fresh Doughnut Holes are the perfect snack to take along trick or treating – especially when they’re warm and covered in cinnamon sugar. If you’re feeling creative, fill them with jam (blood) or even chocolate – if you can get hold of some Cadburry’s Scream Eggs, then you can even turn these Cream Egg-filled Doughnuts into Halloween Flavoured ones!

Teacake Cupcakes

Marshmallow Hi-Hat Teacake Cupcakes for Halloween - The Cardiff CwtchMarshmallow Buttercream Hi-Hat Teacake Cupcakes for Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

All the American bakers out there will probably recognise these as “Hi-Hat” cupcakes, but for the uninitiated Brits – let’s just call them Marshmallow Teacake Cupcakes – just normal cupcakes with the added bonus of a marshmallow tea cake (/poo emoji) perched on top. With a little bit of strategic freezer time to allow the marshmallow buttercream to set before they get dunked in their chocolate coating, they’re a snap to make – and with a plate of these waiting by the door you’re bound to be the most popular house on the block! 😉

Werewolf Poop (Chocolate Brigadeiros)

Werewolf Poop, Werewolf Droppings - Halloween Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

If you’ve never heard of Brigadeiros before then all you need to know is that they’re the easiest chocolate truffle you’ll ever make. Four ingredients, a little hob time and a fridge is all you need to make them. They’re a little bit different from usual truffles – they’re a bit gooey and kind of a cross between caramel and soft fudge, but those are all good qualities in my book and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that these are dangerously delish. Dress them up as Werewolf Poop and you’ve got a very easy Halloween Treat to tempt the neighbourhood with.

Happy Halloween everyone! Have a good one! 🎃 🎃 🎃

Laundry Room Makeover

Spaghetti Stain Removals, but make it stylish…
Laundry Room Makeover - The Cardiff Cwtch

Well hey, it’s been a long time since I’ve done an interiors post here on the blog. A looooong time. What can I say? We got a bit… lazy. You know how it goes, you move into a new house, embark on a sort of decorating blitzkrieg – hitting one room after the next – and then you sit on it and enjoy it for a while… and then bam! Two years fly by, everything goes a bit stale and there’s still a massive hole in the wall where your puppy (who’s now no longer a puppy) charged into it at full-zoomies miles per hour (it’s on the to-do list, okay?). When we first moved in, there were rooms that we didn’t really feel the need to decorate, and so we kind of just accepted them for how they were and let them just… be for a while. Now they’re looking a bit stale and a bit boring compared to the rest of the house, and so when Sunny and I got back from Florida we made a new decorating to-do list and decided on a few rooms that we fancied giving a bit of a makeover. 🙂

Our Utility Room (/ Laundry Room / Mud Room) is straight off the kitchen and even though we use it every single day as access to our back garden, for washing clothes and sorting out Bungle when he’s come in from a muddy walk – it’s been looking more than a bit neglected. When Bungle entered our lives almost three years ago, it immediately became his space. It became his everything room, from his bed and dining room, to – oh yes – his toilet (before we finally nailed the toilet training – phew!) – and as a result the whole room started to look a bit bruised and battered. The floor was grubby, the skirting boards were muddy and the walls especially were in a right state; when Bungle learned how to open doors, he started clawing at the wall. The room literally went to the dogs (or rather, dog). Now that he’s (mostly) better behaved, we decided to give the room a fresh coat of paint and turn it from purely functional, to pretty damn snazzy!

Utility Room Makeover - The Cardiff CwtchLaundry Room Accessories - The Cardiff Cwtch

We had these large, grey metro tiles from Tops Tiles put in about a year ago when we tiled the kitchen, and I absolutely love them! They match perfectly with the grey work surface we chose when we first moved in, and look great next to the brand new (very moody) wall colour. We knew we wanted to go grey, but didn’t really anticipate going as dark as we did! The shade is called Sooty Lashes (I love it! Who comes up with paint names? What a job!) and is by Valspar at B&Q.  The pictures are actually really, really old; we bought them for the kitchen in our first flat in London and they had to come with us when we moved.  They’ll always remind me of that pokey little kitchen overlooking the muddy Thames. 🙂

I picked up the washing powder jar from IKEA’s 365 Kitchen Storage Range. Before we were using a plain plastic tupperware pot which not only looked a bit naff, but was really messy. Now I can actually keep my washing powder and liquid out on the surface for easy access!

Mud Room Dog Bed - The Cardiff CwtchLaundry Room Dog Bed

Even though Bungle sleeps upstairs on our bed now, the Utility Room is still his bedroom really, and he does like to trot off and take a nap there with “Bald Lion” (his favourite toy) whenever he’s feeling a bit antisocial or nervous. It’s his “safe space”. The gap under the counter is actually for a Tumble Dryer, but – since we don’t own one – it’s the perfect place for Bungle’s dog bed and blanket. I’ve got a basket on the counter piled with fresh blankets and towels that are just for him and are easy to access whenever we need to wipe off his muddy paws. The rug (old, from H&M Home) gives the floor a little bit more protection and makes the room just a little bit cosier for him. 🙂

Utility Room Dog Bed - The Cardiff CwtchUtility Room Decor Ideas - The Cardiff CwtchMud Room Decor Ideas - The Cardiff Cwtch

What do you think? Sunny’s been saying for a while that we need to bite the bullet and get a tumble dryer – but I’m pushing back as hard as I can because I don’t want to turf Bungle out of his den! 🙂 Have a lovely week!

My Thursday: Blossom Walks, Perfect Scrambled Eggs and Violet Gin

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I feel like I haven’t done a photo diary in ages; sometimes it’s nice to throw things back to blogging back in the day – you know, when it was all a bit more low key and just about the things you did on a random day of the week.  I did want to put an Easter-inspired recipe up today buuuuuut I’ve been a bit busy and came up empty.  So here we are!  This is what my Thursday looked like.

Most days right now begin at 6am when Bungle stomps into our bedroom and barks until one of us either budges over or gets up.  He loves our bed at the moment; he’ll disappear at random times during the day and we’ll find him sprawled out snoozing in the middle of it!  Sunny usually gets up first so Bungle will usually hop in with me for a bit while I scroll through Twitter and Instagram and put off getting up myself. 😉

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Once Sunny leaves for work, I pull on a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie and take Bungle for his morning walk around the block.  You’d think him having the snip a couple of weeks ago would have calmed him down a bit, but honestly he’s even more excitable than before.  He still drags me along and only stops to mercilessly hump my leg.  Buuuuuut, at least on Thursday the weather was nice; we walked around the block and had a sniff around the bluebells and the blossom.

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After his walk, Bungle went back to bed (…alright for some) and I made myself some breakfast.  I’ve been trying to perfect some egg recipes recently and high up on my list was scrambled egg.  I mean, usually I just crack a couple of eggs into a saucepan with some milk and butter and stir until they’re solid, but I wanted to see if I could go one better and make those super creamy, special scrambled eggs.  On Thursday, I think I cracked it (har de har).

Most of my morning was spent ticking off jobs on my to do list, planning a couple of blog posts and answering emails, and then after taking Bungle for another trot around the block I had a quick lunch and then headed into Cardiff.  But it turned out taking me an hour longer than usual because the traffic was a nightmare!

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Had a quick prowl around the shops.  There’s not really a lot I need in terms of Spring/Summer clothes, but I love looking anyway!  I’m still in lust with this pink polka dot shirt from Zara… but I’ve got a lot of shirts (and a lot of polka dots…).  I’m determined to wait it out and see if lust turns into love.

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At Gin o’ Clock I met up with Lottie from This Girl Is.  We went to Gin and Juice in Castle Arcade which serves up a massive selection of gin (and smoothies) in the most beautiful way.  We chatted about blogging and our beautiful but bonkers doggos.

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Once I got home, Sunny took Bungle for his evening walk and I made dinner.  I’ve really been enjoying making these Burrito Bowls recently.  It started as a solution to those times when “ugh, can’t be arsed to make Quesadillas” – but actually, I prefer it!  And not just because it’s easier.  Last night I served them up with a cheeky side of Nachos – which went down very well! 🙂

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After dinner I started reading my new history book all about the women in Mozart’s life and then Sunny and I broke into some Easter Chocolate in front of Into the Badlands – which is quite possibly the most ridiculous show I’ve ever seen.  Steampunk meets Kung Fu… with Nick Frost.  I mean, what the actual hell?

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Enjoy the long weekend! 🙂

*Furbo: The Treat Dispensing Dog Cam

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(*This post is sponsored by Furbo)

The absolute worst thing about having Bungle (besides when he wipes his butt on my lovely, white bed sheets…), is having to leave him!  He really is part of the family – he pretty much demands to be, it’s what Golden Retrievers are all about – and honestly I wouldn’t have him any other way and I’d take him everywhere with me if I could.  Sunny and I are really lucky that he’s never alone for too long, but then – y’know – sometimes, it happens.  As much as I’d like to wheel him around in the trolley while I do my weekly food shop (…he’d love that!), it just isn’t going to happen, but do you know what? He might as well be there with me because I never stop thinking about him and worrying that he’s okay at home on his own and isn’t wrecking the place while I’m out.

Enter the pet cam!  I used to think they were a bit of a gimmick until my parents got us a Vimtag camera for Christmas.  The idea is that you set it up in a room where you tend to leave your pet while you’re out, then basically link up to your phone via an app, and – via video link – it allows you check in on your pet while you’re out.  We were pretty much instant converts; we never have to worry about rushing back home, we just pop onto the app, make sure that Bungle’s behaving himself (…he’s usually just fast asleep!), and that gives us the option to stay out a little longer! So when Furbo got in touch and asked if Bungle would like to try out their pet cam, I wondered how it could possibly improve on the camera that we already had – what else could it possibly offer?

Well, in a word… TREATS!

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How it works…

One of the many things that sets Furbo aside from other dog cameras on the market is the fact that it allows you to toss treats!  Once you’ve set up the camera (which is super easy – just plug it into the wall, download the free, accompanying app and connect to it once via Bluetooth) you can check in on your pet at any time – day or night – and from anywhere in the world (provided you’re on wifi!).  You can talk to them through the video link (“Get off the sofa!”), hear them respond (“No, it’s comfy!”), record them, photograph them and even flick/swipe the screen to send a treat!  The Furbo will spit a couple of small treats out through the hole in its base, rewarding doggo for being “a very good boy” while you’re out and about doing your thing! 🙂

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The Good

Bark Alerts

As well as the ability to send treats, one of the best things about Furbo – and something that really sets it aside from other cameras – is the fact that the app will send an alert to your phone if it hears your dog barking.  Bungle only tends to bark when he’s frustrated or if someone comes to the door, so having a camera that listens out for that is awesome; if we get an alert, we know we need to check in pronto tonto.

Design

Another thing I really like about the Furbo as opposed to other cameras is its design – it actually looks good!  While our Vimtag camera looks a little bit like a 90s webcam, the Furbo is easy on the eyes by comparison.  It’s a little bit bigger, sure, (obviously it needs to be to hold a decent bank of treats), but sleeker, and with the trendy and kinda Scandi bambo lid it blends really well with the other furniture in our lounge.  The light on the front changes during different modes of operation – yellow when it’s on standby, blue when you’re using the app, and purple when it’s struggling to find a WIFI signal.

Treat Tossing

I mean, obviously, the main draw is the treat tossing function.  It’s great fun!  But what makes it even better is the fact that you can record your own message to accompany the treat toss – a “snack call” – so doggo knows he’s about to get a treat!

Super Wide Lens

One of the only things our Vimtag camera can do that Furbo can’t is the ability to move the camera via the app and follow Bungle’s movements around the room.  Furbo‘s lens is fixed, but, the good news is that it’s a wide-angle lens that has no trouble keeping an eye on the whole room. 🙂

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The Not so Good

The Noise

One of the only gripes I have about Furbo – and there aren’t many at all – is the noise the mechanism makes as it spits out a treat.  It’s a little bit noisy.  I mean, nothing to us humans, but by the way Bungle first reacted to it you’d think the sky was about to cave in!  He’s a slightly skittish dog anyway – he’s never liked sudden noises – and so it took him quite a while to get used to the sounds Furbo makes, even the snack call.  The good thing is that there are plenty of training videos and tips within the app that will help you properly introduce your pup to Furbo that’ll have them loving it in no time!

Depends on the Dog!

Here’s the stickler.  All dogs are completely different.  Some love watching the TV and others barely notice that it’s even there!  Bungle falls into the second category – he always has!  He’s never been bothered about the TV and has never reacted to Facetime or phone calls.  He’s a Golden Retriever with a very finely tuned nose; it’s part of the breed.  So while he’ll always appear behind me when I’m grating cheese on the other side of the house, he won’t react to me if I’m on a screen because he can’t smell me there.  The same applies to talking to him over the camera; he can hear me speaking to him through the Furbo, but won’t really recognise the sound as me because he can’t smell me.  So some of those features – as fantastic as they are – are a bit lost on him.  It’s just a lot of strange noise, and when we first set the camera up it tended to stress him out rather than comfort him.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that not all dogs are going to react to Furbo in the same way.  It depends on how they’re wired!  So if you’ve got a very skittish dog, then it might be worth looking at a more basic camera without all the bells and whistles.  You can always use the training videos of course, but it’s always going to be a bit of a gamble.

Aside from that, as pet cams go Furbo really is top of the pops.  Other than the treat tossing feature, the bark alerts alone are such a simple but really useful feature and it’s the best looking camera on the market by a long way. 🙂

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Big thanks to Karkalis Communications for sending over the Furbo!  Have a great week everyone! 🙂

(This is a sponsored post, you can read more about what that means right here.)