• Top 4 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe

    Lexi chocolate labrador on sofa
  • Recipe: Russian Olivier Salad (Оливье салат)

    Olivier (Russian) salad
  • Fight jet lag this summer

    how to avoid jetlag plane wing
  • Review: Oskie’s Unchewable Dog Seat Belt

    Oskie's Unchewable Dog Seat Belt

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Top 4 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe

Pets are a large part of everyone’s family, like our pup Lexi, so it’s crucial to protect them from every kind of danger that they could encounter in daily life. Your little companions normally go roaming around sometimes without your knowledge.

In this case, any stranger or a pet thief can steal them and your pet can go missing and sometimes be in danger of real harm. There have been a number of cases involving dog-napping in our area which are a constant concern. In such a case, it is crucial that you take all the necessary precautions before to make finding them that much easier.

There are several ways you can keep your pet safe from nuisances that are dangerous to them. For example, nowadays, you can get trackers from lots of well-known brands to protect your pet. Here are 4 ways in which you can keep your dog safe from Trackershop:

Protect Them with ID Tags

You get a variety of ID tags on the market depending on their quality and usage. You can also find them at vending machines which are inexpensive but may be not reliable beyond a point. It’s best to go for the ones that are made of stainless steel, brass or a hard polymer plastic, because they don’t get rusted. Police encourage the public to use ID tags for their pets, as it makes easier for them to locate them. Lexi has a metal tag on her collar which has our surname and both of our mobile numbers just in case.

Using Microchips

Microchips are permanent ID tags that can be used to protect and identify your pet. As the name suggests, they are as small as a grain of rice which is to be implanted beneath the skin of your pet. Each microchip contains a unique identification number that differentiates your pet from others. When the pet is found, it can be identified in a veterinary clinic or an animal shelter. Microchips do not come too expensive and so you can use them for multiple pets without worry of spending too much. From April 2016 it has been a legal requirement for ALL dogs to be microchipped and contact details up-to-date. Lexi’s breeder chipped her in advance of her picking her up which was a bonus.

GPS Locators

In the case when your pet has gone missing, if you’ve protected it with a GPS locator, then it would be easier for you to locate its exact location through a tracking device or app. For this, you must fit a small transmitter on the collar of your pet and it sends signals to the pet’s owner on their mobile phone or a special receiver, depending on the system. You get several systems on the market and you can choose the one that is best for you and your pet. I have never used a GPS locator, but seeing as we have had dog-nappings in our area it might be worth considering.

Other Precautions

  1. You should have a good quality photograph of your pet so that you can use it when it goes missing.
  2. Avoid tying your pet outside a store, your home or a restaurant which can give a chance for the thief to steal it.
  3. Never keep your pet unattended in any situation. You can ask a reliable neighbour or a friend to attend it in your absence.
  4. Never leave your pet alone in your car even if it is parked only for a minute.
  5. Never leave your pet with strangers or people you don’t know very well

It is essential that as a pet owner you take responsibility for the safety of your pal, so make sure you consider the above advice and take actions to prevent him/her going missing!


Lexi chocolate labrador on sofa

Recipe: Russian Olivier Salad (Оливье салат)

Over the Easter period my mother-in-law came to visit and on Easter Sunday she made some salads from Eastern Europe where she comes from, to go with our traditional family roast lamb and trimmings. One of these was the Russian Olivier Salad (Оливье салат).

This salad is a traditional dish in Russian cuisine, which is also popular in many other European countries including Iran, Israel and Mongolia as well as Latin America. It is usually served during times of celebration such as New Year’s Eve and religious days, such as Easter.

There are many adaptions of the recipe but it is usually made by combining vegetables, dill pickles, eggs, meat and seasoned with salt, pepper and dressed in mayonnaise. The following is my mother-in-law’s family recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Diced Boiled Potatoes
  • Diced Boiled Carrots
  • Diced Brined Dill Pickles (or any pickled cucumber)
  • Green Peas
  • Diced Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Diced Raw Onions
  • Diced Cooked/Smoked Ham (or any cooked meat)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Mayonnaise

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and combine
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  3. Decorate with fresh herbs/ sliced raw vegetables
  4. Enjoy as a side dish or on its own!

Olivier (Russian) salad

Fight jet lag this summer

Nothing is quite as frustrating as arriving at your fabulous summer holiday destination and having to put up with sleep disruption, tiredness and even nausea brought on by jet lag. If you regularly travel long distances and cross several time zones you will know what I mean.

Jet lag is caused when the body struggles to adjust to the new time zone. We have an internal biological clock that regulates daily routine; the circadian rhythm. When we travel across multiple time zones (usually more than 3) it can be disrupted, leaving the circadian rhythm out of sync and ultimately making us feel pretty awful!

The degree of suffering will vary from person to person, but common Jet lag symptoms include:

  • Indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea
  • Headaches, nausea and loss of appetite
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Feelings of disorientation, lethargy and light-headedness
  • Feeling confused
  • Difficulty concentrating and clumsiness
  • Sweating

Funnily enough jet lag is more common when travelling east opposed to travelling west as travelling east means adjusting to a shorter day rather than having a longer day. The risk of developing jet lag can also be increased or exacerbated by:

  • Dehydration
  • Drinking alcohol or caffeine during a long flight
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Being over 60 years of age.

There are several things you can do which will help reduce the effects of jet lag including medicines to lifestyle techniques, all designed to help your body’s circadian rhythm adjust to the new time zone.

Medication includes melatonin (a hormone released by the body to let the brain know it’s time for sleep), and circadin which help adjusts the body’s circadian rhythm to that of the new time zone. Taking regular sleeping pills is not advisable as you can end up with a ‘handover’ in the morning, making you feel worse!

If you prefer to avoid medication then try to avoid napping on arrival to make sure you remain active until you reach the correct time for sleep in your new time zone. You can also spend some time outdoors where the exposure to natural light will help to reset your internal body clock and adjust to the new time zone. Finally, make sure you eat at the new time zone’s times to get your gut on track!

Do you have any great jet lag cures?

how to avoid jetlag plane wing

 

Review: Oskie’s Unchewable Dog Seat Belt

If you are transporting your dog in your car there are some important safety implications to be aware of both for you and your canine companion. If your dog isn’t secured properly and you are involved in an accident you run the risk of being injured by your dog crushing you and of course, your dog can easily be injured too.

If you have a travel crate or your dogs travel in the boot of your car you are pretty much protected against these sorts of issues, however, if like Lexi your dog travels on the back seat of your car you need to make sure you have the equipment in place to keep them secure.

We have had several different doggie seat belts in the past which clip into the normal seat belt clasp and attach to the dog’s harness in combination with a car protector that covers the foot wells, however, Lexi being the rambunctious pup that she is, loves to chew them up – ultimately destroying them!

Having had enough of replacing the fabric style seat belts I decided to find a more hardy option and came across Oskie’s unchewable dog seat belt on Amazon. Unlike the previous seat belts I had used, the Oskie belt is made of metal (yay!), so Lexi can’t destroy it by chewing on the seat belt en route between our favourite walks and home.

It is easy to attach to Lexi’s harness and is approximately 20 inches from harness clip to seat belt clip giving her enough space to be comfortable but at the same time, secure. It also has a seat belt clip 3 times thicker for increased strength to support your dog’s weight and stop them from popping free, should the worst happen. 

We have been using the unchewable dog seat belt from Oskie twice a day since getting it and I am very happy with the results. The belt provides a safe and comfortable way for Lexi to travel and gives me peace of mind. I award it 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who has a pup who loves to chew and travel!

Oskie's Unchewable Dog Seat Belt

Review: Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Over Easter, my mother-in-law came to stay with us to share in the seasonal celebrations. While she was here my husband decided to buy her a new tablet computer as a gift and after some research, he settled on the Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet which he purchased via Amazon. 

Vlad was attracted to the Lenovo TAB 2 because of the budget price tag of £68.99 balanced with the portability and specification which was impressive for the price.

The Lenovo TAB 2 comes with a quad-core 1.3GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB Memory (expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card) and runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. Connectivity wise, it comes with 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity and optional Bluetooth® 4.0. It has a Dolby® built-in speaker.

The Lenovo TAB 2 is described as being a wafer thin, ultra light device and coming in at 522g with dimensions of 20.8 x 12 x 6 cm it is certainly a very portable device, perfect for slipping into a pocket or handbag for on-the-go entertainment, social networking and web browsing.

The performance of the tablet is of decent quality due to the processor and RAM combination which allows for speedy browsing and loading of apps. One let down has been the screen sensitivity which is low, meaning the user has to push harder than expected to get a reaction. The Lenovo TAB 2 is slow to charge but the upside of this is the device holds charge well, lasting around 8 hours.

The tablet has a 7 inch IPS LED screen with a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution which is described as allowing for eye-popping multimedia performance. However, we have been disappointed by the quality of the screen where icons and images appear blurry around the edges. This problem extends to the camera which is low resolution and produces blurry images.

All in all, if you’re looking for a budget friendly, basic, portable tablet which will serve you well for catching up with emails or for entertaining you on a journey then the Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-inch tablet may be a good choice. Alternatively, this tablet would be a great option for kids who can enjoy watching their favourite programs or playing games on the tablet and you don’t need to worry so much about them damaging a higher-end device.

The Lenovo TAB 2 certainly doesn’t measure up when compared to more expensive, higher performing devices but for the price point we have found it surprisingly good for basic tasks such as checking emails, updating social networks and playing games. We award it 4 out of 5 stars based on performance vs. price.

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Big Brekkie 2017 from Christian Aid

Since the announcement that the district that I live in, Sevenoaks, will be taking in its first Syrian refugee family after hundreds of people signed a petition asking Sevenoaks District Council to promise to provide at least one of these families a home in the next five years, there has been much debate locally on the topic.

Unfortunately, there are many people who do not like the idea of a refugee family moving in, particularly as the house available is a vacant six-bedroom house in the village next to mine and many residents believe that local people should have priority, despite there being no local family in need which is appropriate for the house.

This whole experience has opened my eyes to the views of other people and I have been really disappointed in those who think that the Syrian family do not deserve the house and clearly do not realise (or even care) that these people probably have nothing to their name and may well have lost loved ones in the recent turmoil.

Today I wanted to let you know about the Big Brekkie 2017 from Christian Aid, part of Christian Aid Week 14‑20 May, who believe that sharing a meal can bring us together and help break down the barriers between us. Christian Aid has more than 70 years’ experience of working in partnership to support communities to thrive.

Although I am not religious I can relate to wanting to help those less fortunate and this campaign focuses on showing love for people living in poverty and suffering injustice around the world. The Big Brekkie idea is a simple one, just invite friends, family and colleagues to attend fundraising breakfast which you host so whilst you are enjoying sharing a meal you can raise money through donations to help Christian Aid support refugees.


Review: Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread

My sister recently made an extraordinary discovery in her local shop: Reese’s peanut butter chocolate spread! After she shared the news I decided to go out and get some for myself, having always been a major Reese’s cup junkie and I was lucky enough to have found it in my local Sainsburys.

H.B. Reese introduced his famous peanut butter cups in 1928 and since then the product line has grown to include a large range of flavours and mixed with different forms including dark chocolate, snack-sized pieces, and candy bars *wipes drool away*.

Although the peanut butter chocolate spread was officially launched a few years ago I had never seen it available before! Designed to take on Nutella, Hershey’s recommends dipping healthy snacks such as apples and celery or spreading on toast. Of course, I wouldn’t mind eating it on its own with a spoon either…

It tastes just as you would expect it to; DELICIOUS! If you were to take some Reese’s cups and melt them into a jar you would basically have the spread. It is made up of the rich Hershey’s chocolate that we know and love, combined with a powerful peanut punch complete with that familiar grainy texture which you find in the cups.

The Reese’s peanut butter chocolate spread comes in jars of 368g which I think will last a good amount of time; although it tastes amazing you can’t eat too much at one time, just like peanut butter. You do need to keep in mind that it’s not a health food, although this shouldn’t really shock you! 2 tbs contains 190 calories, 12g of fat, 21g of carbohydrate, 19 of them sugars.

I have really loved enjoying spreading Reese’s peanut butter chocolate spread onto hot cross buns as of late. YUM. If you’re a fan of Hershey’s Reese’s range of chocolate treats you will simply adore this spread, like I do! I award it 5 out of 5 stars and can’t wait until I have my next fix!

Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread

 

Review: Boolavard Silicone Makeup Sponge

There is nothing more annoying to me than starting to put on my makeup and realising that I am nearly out of foundation. It feels like it is the one thing I buy most frequently and I have to wonder just how I get through so much of it so fast.

When I heard about silicone makeup sponges I had a light bulb moment; my foundation was being sucked up by my sponges rather than being applied to my skin! I had a browse on Amazon and found a 2 pack of silicone makeup sponges from Boolavard and decided to buy them and see what all the fuss was about.

Silicone makeup sponges have been a bit of a trend recently owed to their claims of being the perfect applicator for blush, foundation, highlighter and concealer. The smooth, super flexible surface results in a polished, flawless everyday look which takes mere moments to achieve.

I have to admit that I do not wash my makeup sponges frequently enough which makes them a bit messy and gross, so the idea of having an easy to clean applicator appeals to me – simply wash clean! The smooth silicone material also does not hold onto makeup which means you lose less product each time, resulting in longer lasting makeup (and better value for money).

When I first opened and felt the silicone makeup sponges I was surprised at just how soft and flexible they were and on first use discovered that I needed about half as much foundation to achieve good coverage than when using a normal sponge – amazing!

I will admit that I found them a little hard to use to blend the product nicely over my skin and did use my fingers to achieve a nice, smooth look. Whether this was a lack of technique on my part or perhaps a slight flaw in the sponge, only time will tell.

I award the silicone makeup sponges from Boolavard 4 out of 5 stars and will continue to use them to extend the life of my makeup and as an easy to clean option.

Boolavard Silicone Makeup Sponge

Rattan In The Bloom #Competition

Has your garden started to come alive? Spring is certainly a beautiful time of year with all the plants in the garden suddenly becoming a celebration of the season with bright and colourful flowers. I also love to watch the wildlife come back after the colder months and enjoy watching bees and butterflies exploring the blooms.

To celebrate the time of the year Rattan Direct are running an exciting competition for anyone wanting to share their garden for the chance to win a £500 voucher to spend across the entire Rattan website. There is also a fantastic runner-up prize with a choice of either an excellent set of high quality, black rattan plant pot set or opt for the set of three brown rattan plant pot set.

How to Enter

To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do go to the competition page, attach a photo of your garden to the contact form and email it to Rattan. And that’s it!

The winner and runner-up will be chosen at random, you can send one entry only, starting from 10thMarch 2017 right through summer until mid-day on 1st September 2017. Ratten will notify the winner within 7 days of the closing date. The winner and runner-up will be announced on their website and on their social media channels.

So, get planting and snapping! Good luck!

Review: KONG Jumbler Ball Dog Toy

Our chocolate labrador puppy Lexi recently turned one year old (I’m not sure I should be calling her ‘puppy’ anymore!), and for her birthday she was lucky enough to have received a collection of treats and toys from her friends and family, human and canine alike.

When looking for gifts for Lexi I settled on trying to find a ball which could be used as a football as we have recently started playing a game where we kick a ball for her (and my mum’s two labradors) to chase and return to us. Lexi seems to prefer chasing something along the ground rather than running after a ball flying through the air. It had to be a decent size to make it easy to kick and it had to be tough because our dogs can sometimes get a bit overenthusiastic when chewing on toys!

I spotted the Kong Jumbler Ball when I was browsing Amazon and really liked the size, handy handles and I trust the Kong brand to make tough toys! When it arrived we were not disappointed. The jumbler is made up of a plastic ball shape with handles which houses a tennis ball which rattles around inside and makes a great sound which gets Lexi all excited and ready to play, along with the classic squeak of a dog toy. At 272g it is a good weight for easy throwing and kicking, making it perfect for our games of football.

Since it arrived we have enjoyed many an interactive walk with the dogs; us kicking the Kong jumbler along with the dogs chasing after it, playing tug-o-war with it and eventually returning it to us. The handles make it very easy to pick the jumbler up from the floor or from the dog’s mouth and also makes it easy for the dogs to grab and carry it. I really love how it has been designed to have an odd shape (with the handles making it an imperfect sphere) which makes it makes it bounce erratically and makes it more interesting for the dogs to chase after!

It has certainly stood up to tough play as the dogs do love trying to grab it away from each other and often gets a good chewing. The tough plastic material means the dogs are unable to puncture and damage the ball and the squeaker means that air is easily pushed out of the ball when it was clamped down upon so it doesn’t explode when crushed which tennis balls can do.

We have enjoyed playing with the Kong jumbler ball and we award it 5 out of 5 stars!

Lexi with Kong Jumbler

Dogs playing with Kong Jumbler

Dogs playing with Kong Jumbler