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Dog Eats Food…Again

Funny thing that happened the other day (and an update on Joe’s feeding habits). Whilst on a rather long call to nPower Customer Services (another story entirely), I looked away from Joe for a minute and back again to catch him feeding his whole dinner to Roxy, our four-year old golden retriever.

I could have been frustrated, I suppose, but the scene was just too funny not to laugh – Joe innocently tipping the food off his plate and Roxy eyes lighting up like her birthday had come early, as she raced to lap up the falling food. I had to hold back from laughing lest the Customer Service girl on the other end of the phone wondered what on earth was wrong with me.

J

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Holidays For Furry Friends

So the air is warm and the sun is shining (most of the time anyways), so I guess it means dogs-on-holidaywe’re way into summer now! We’re scheduled to go away next month to Florida, where we will be staying at the amazing Key West beach. Tilly is so excited, and we can’t wait to spend some time in one of our favourite hot spots.

Our reasons for choosing Key West, however, might surprise you. Besides being a beautiful, sunny and uplifting place and perfect for families, Key West is also a primarily dog-friendly place. And with Roxy, our four year old golden retriever in tow, what other reason do we need?

While lots of dog-owners might see their holidays as a rest from the doggie duties, we’ve been taking Roxy on our trips for the last three years. The first time we left her was difficult for both us and her, so we decided that whenever possible, we would include her in our summer vacations in the future. The cost of paying for your dog’s stay in a hotel is about the same, if not less than putting them up in kennels for two weeks anyway. So why hesitate?

Key West has a dog-friendly beach, a dog-friendly restaurant next door (the Afterdeck Bar at Louie’s Backyard) and a range of other dining options where dogs are welcome (Island Dogs Bar; Blue Heaven, and Cheeseburger on Duval Street). We’ve been there before and always had such a great time and Roxy loves the opportunity to frolic in the sea.

However, Key West is definitely not the only option if you’re looking to take your furry friend on a much-needed trip. San Diego in California is home to a number of dog beaches where leashes aren’t mandatory, and there are dog-wash facilities nearby. There are also plenty of pet-friendly eateries like Baja Betty’s, O’Bistro, Cafe Merlot and Heavenly Cupcake (where they even make ‘pupcakes’ for dogs!)

dogs-national-trustIf the crisp English countryside is more your thing, then England and Scotland is just brimming with hotels and country lodges where your canine will be welcome.
The Swan Hotel in Southwold provides lovely dog-tailored accommodation in its Lighthouse Rooms for just £10 a night, and dogs get their own bowl and treat upon arrival. There’s also a dog beach along Walberswick Harbour for running and playing.

Fieldshead Hotel in the pretty fishing town of West Looe also looks like it would be a great choice. The hotel is said to be luxurious and relaxing, providing five-star service, pet-friendly rooms, and an ocean coastline right on your doorstep. Meanwhile, Trigony House Hotel in Thornhill, Scotland, looks a classically beautiful and charming place, surrounding by enchanting Scottish countryside including lots of exciting walking trails. This place is said to be a more up-market stay for dog-owners that want a bit of luxury for both themselves and their pooches, and its service is award winning.

It can indeed be difficult to get a good blend on dog-friendly vacations, especially as humans tend to like sightseeing and culture, whilst dogs love forests, fields, woods and other open spaces. English Heritage and National Trust in the UK however often aim to combine outdoorsy activities with historic walks and experiences, so their trips can be a good option (and they accommodate dogs in many of their hotels, pubs and restaurants too).

As far as accommodation is concerned, you’re certainly not necessarily limited to camping. Lots of travel agents (including a young startup named Chien Bleu Travel) can point you in the direction of lots of pet-friendly hotels, as well as self-catered holiday homes and lodges, right across Europe and beyond.

Be patient, do your research, and don’t be afraid to make enquiries (or be open to something new!) When the whole family travels, there should be no more excuses for leaving your four-legged friend behind.

J

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dog-on-beach

 

Dining Room Redesign: Inspirations

So Marcus and I have decided to redecorate the dining room. We’ve been a while putting it off as we were pretty sure Roxy would trash the place when she was a puppy…but now that she’s got out of the chewing phase I think its about time we roll our sleeves up and get it DONE! (That’s not to say Roxy won’t trash it anyway…I’m sure if she doesn’t, the kids will. But we’ll see how things go…)

So far I’ve been picking out small designs for wallpaper, colour schemes, lighting and furniture that really inspire me, whatever may be their source. As easy as it is to walk into a store and point to a photograph in a brochure, that sort of approach isn’t really for Marcus or me. I’m usually pretty intent on keeping things original, and Marcus’ mother used to work in interior design so I don’t think we’d get away with it if we didn’t consult her opinion!

I thought I’d post a few of my favourite ideas here that I’ve found so far. I have consulted some design mags and websites…but sometimes its also fun to simply stumble upon inspiration when out and about or surfing the web. Pinterest is certainly a great place to inspiration on ANYthing…you should definitely get on it if you haven’t already.

Wallpaper

dining-room-wallpaper-inspiration

I love this tree pattern – its very fresh and spring-like and reminds me of the white blossom trees at the end of our street. Whilst a neutral colour, its also still pretty playful, which I like.

Table/Furniture

dining-table-inspiration

I love this rustic dining table, which could bring a distinctly warm feel into an otherwise cool room. I’m not too keen on the chairs, but the mahogany table could make a beautiful centrepiece through both summer and winter. I also like the tree wallpaper used in the room in this photograph too!

Lighting

dining-room-lighting-inspiration

This metal-framed leaf-designed hanging lamp is from Overstock’s Home & Garden range. Whilst a dark colour, I love the pattern and I think it would go perfectly with a nature-esque, organic theme (which seems to be a recurring element right now…!)

Rug

dining-room-rug-inspiration

I think we’re pretty set on having a hard wood floor, so a rug will probably end up being an essential. I usually love heavy, rich-coloured rugs that echo exotic countries like India and Morrocco…but being a dining room I’d like to keep things fresh and airy. This cream-coloured woven rug made from natural materials would be perfect…though how long it would stay clean for is another issue!

Baking Cookies!

It’s been baking-central here in our house this week, as Tilly’s school is holding a family fun day to raise funds for the local hospital. The teachers want all the kids involved (and obviously, the parents!) so we’ve been baking up some varied treats to contribute to the bake sale (as well as one or two extra batches to munch on ourselves, of course!)

So far we’ve done around three batches of 20 cookies and one batch of brownies…but I have a feeling we’re going to need more of the latter as they taste so good, they may not last in this house for long…

I think above all though, the winners are these truly delightful peanut butter cookies, which most kids are likely to love. Before making these for any community-based project, do check that there’s nobody with any nut allergies, or anything (luckily Tilly’s class is clear). If not, you’re good. Bake away!

This recipe is from food.com.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredientspeanut-butter-cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (preferably sugar-free, for your own peace of mind)
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 dark brown sugar1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour (choose white or wholemeal)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

How To Make
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix the butter, peanut butter, both types of sugar, the egg and the vanilla.

3. Gradually add the flour, mixing well.

4. When you have a nice thick doughy consistency, roll into balls and use a fork to press down on a greased baking tray. (You can dip the fork in sugar or flour if you like.)

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes (10 if you like them soft). Be sure to keep an eye on them though as some ovens get hotter than others.

These cookies are perfect to make with kids as they’re really easy, and little ones can help with simple things like mixing and rolling the cookie dough.

Then of course there’s always licking the bowl at the end, which is Tilly’s favourite part (though I can’t figure out why…!)

Enjoy!

J

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The Joys & Trials Of A Fussy Toddler

Things have been a little hectic here at Jin Towers – not only have my deadlines kept me exceedingly busy, but we are currently in the middle of transferring little Joseph onto solid food…something which I can’t say hasn’t been quite an experience!

The whole transference to solid food process means that Joe messy-baby-highchairobviously needs to be supervised at all mealtimes and takes much longer to feed – not the most conducive circumstances to get a good 3000 words a day in (my target has shrunk since I began working from home to be with the kids – it had to) but nevertheless we try.

It’s actually been really fun finding tasty foods that Joe will be willing to eat, as well as bake him up a baby-sized treat every now and then, like these delicious little chocolate brownies from Small Steps Online. (These are for special times only – like when he eats his whole dinner – a very rare occurrence.) I can’t wait till he’s big enough to get involved in the baking himself – not long now before he’ll be able to stir and roll things, I’m sure!

baby-solid-foodTilly is great – she often helps to feed Joe his afternoon snack when she arrives home from school and has taken to fixing him a mini version of what she eats herself. This usually involves something simple like peanut butter with celery and raisins, but it doesn’t always go down well with Joe. Sometimes he’ll simply play with it and make a mess; other times he just won’t touch it at all.

Overall, it is a changing phase that will require perseverance, no doubt, but I find plenty of support from the forums of netmums.com and Small Steps, and I’m really relishing spending more time at home (even though the whole freelance working thing isn’t getting my fullest attention right now, admittedly). Still, they say these years pass by faster than you could imagine, so I’d rather be enjoying adventures with my kids whilst they last, and have much more to write about later down the line!

Until next time,

J.

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