Missing my dog

Hungarian VizslaI miss this face. Every single day.
Now I’ve gone back to an actual office and am no longer working from home, there is no resting his head on my hand as I sit at my desk and try to move the computer mouse around. There is no standing in the doorway of my office staring at me until I crumble under his steely glare. There is no sitting on my feet, bringing me his scraggy toys for me to throw for him or trying to manoeuvre his huge bulk onto my lap because he has no concept of just how large he is.

When I walk through the door at the end of the day he greets me like he hasn’t seen me in a week. He runs in circles, whips me with the ferocity of his tail wagging and sits down in front of me with his head bolt upright like some well-drilled soldier because he know that’s where the scratches under the chin come from.

Ronin has been my work companion for three years. And I really really miss him now I’m office based.
It’s been quite a tough transition for all of us; me trying to get up and actually get dressed every morning while herding the kids to school. The kids getting used to mum not being at their beck and call. The husband having his wife collapse in a heap on the sofa every night.
But I’m so happy. I love my new job. Love it. I don’t mind being tired because I’m happy.
And then I get home and that face looks at me all “It’s you, it’s you, it’s you, it’s you. I thought you’d left me. I missed you. Where were your feet to sit on?”

I’m lucky that my mother in law lives just a walk away and she loves him just as much as we do so he gets plenty of love, exercise and attention.
But I miss this. Walking into a room and him being sprawled out in some ridiculous position. After taking this photo below he looked up at me and his expression said ‘What? Really, what?’ like it’s the most natural thing in the world for a dog to fall asleep on a treadmill.
Big, daft, gorgeous dog.

Posted in Dog | 4 Comments

The Photo Gallery 236: Cake

coconut cakeI’m just going to leave this sitting here for you . . .
The trouble with baking lots of cake at home is someone has to eat it all.
I love cake, I don’t love what it does to my waistline.

HOWEVER, now I’m back at work there is a whole office full of cake lovers just waiting for me to swoop in and make them love me :-)

This post is for week 236 of The Photo Gallery. The theme is: Cake.

Now it’s your turn to link up your post and join in. If you’re new here and want to know what the Photo Gallery feature is, go and read all about it, and then come right back and join in!

Here’s how to join in

Take a photo using the theme I’ve given as your inspiration. There are no rules and you can interpret the theme any way you like. Write a blog post or caption. You can write as many or as few words as you like. You don’t even need to use a new photo; just a photo you think represents the prompt.

 Add the Photo Gallery badge (and the foot of this post) to your post so other readers can find the other entries.

 Use the linky tool at the bottom of this post to link up your post so readers can find you. The linky stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.

➤ Tweet me with the hashtag #thegallery and I will retweet and share your entry (you can find me on Twitter @Tara_Cain). Or you can  use the hashtag #thegallery on Instagram (I’m over there as TaraLara) and I will share and comment on your photos there.

Now go visit as many of the other entries as you can. Leave a comment, discover new blogs, discover new ways of taking photos and maybe share any tips you have.

The Photo Gallery isn’t about taking technically brilliant photos. You can take them on your phone, your point and shoot or your fancy pants camera. It’s about having a passion for photos, wanting to better yourself and discovering what other bloggers are doing.

 You can also find the Photo Gallery on  Pinterest and Google +

Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

To ensure you don’t miss a prompt, you can subscribe to the Sticky Fingers feed to have them delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

 PLEASE don’t link dump – this is not that sort of linky!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/the-photo-gallery" title="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery"><img src="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Gallery-e1372717730880.png" alt="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
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The Photo Gallery is open for absolutely ANYONE to join in – be you on blog, Instagram, Flickr or any platform where you an host a photo.

See you over there x

Posted in The Gallery | 8 Comments

Pineapple, kiwi and mint smoothie

pineapple, kiwi and mint smoothie
Of course when you create a vivid green smoothie you absolutely have to take a photo of it amongst other greenery just to show how green it actually is!
So here is my Solomon’s Seal looking all majestic in my garden. I’m really rather loving it right now!

This smoothie tastes of the tropics. Imagine yourself soaking up the sun while you sip your concoction through a straw and wiggle your toes in the sand . . .

The thing about making NutriBullet smoothies s that you can pretty much bung any fruit and veg in there and you come up with something pretty cool.
BUT trail and error will lead you to smoothies you want to go back to time and time again.
This is one of those. Plus it’s a great aid for any digestive issues.

Ingredients
1 handful spinach
2 slices, tinned pineapple
I whole kiwi, top and tailed
3 springs mint
I dessertspoon chia seed
200ml coconut water

Blitz the lot until smooth.

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 236

Gallery logoHello and welcome to week 236 of The Photo Gallery.
The theme for this week’s Photo Gallery is: Cake.

How many of you read that and went ‘ooooooooo’?
Oh, just me then?
Take a photo of your cake. Cake you’ve made, cake you covet, cake you’re sat down and eating right now.
ALL the cake!

As usual, interpret the theme any way you like, just ensure it fits with the theme.

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here, here’s a post to tell you all about what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to the Sticky Fingers blog and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | Leave a comment

The Photo Gallery 235: Sport

cricket playersSport has given so much back to my son.
It’s given him confidence, team spirit and enjoyment.
It’s taught him sportsmanship, respect and how to lose gracefully.
It’s made him healthy, fit and focused.
But most of all, sport has given my son friendships; friendships which make him happy and supported and included.

And THAT for a boy verging on teendom is priceless.

This post is for week 235 of The Photo Gallery. The theme is: Sport.

Now it’s your turn to link up your post and join in. If you’re new here and want to know what the Photo Gallery feature is, go and read all about it, and then come right back and join in!

Here’s how to join in

Take a photo using the theme I’ve given as your inspiration. There are no rules and you can interpret the theme any way you like. Write a blog post or caption. You can write as many or as few words as you like. You don’t even need to use a new photo; just a photo you think represents the prompt.

 Add the Photo Gallery badge (and the foot of this post) to your post so other readers can find the other entries.

 Use the linky tool at the bottom of this post to link up your post so readers can find you. The linky stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.

➤ Tweet me with the hashtag #thegallery and I will retweet and share your entry (you can find me on Twitter @Tara_Cain). Or you can  use the hashtag #thegallery on Instagram (I’m over there as TaraLara) and I will share and comment on your photos there.

Now go visit as many of the other entries as you can. Leave a comment, discover new blogs, discover new ways of taking photos and maybe share any tips you have.

The Photo Gallery isn’t about taking technically brilliant photos. You can take them on your phone, your point and shoot or your fancy pants camera. It’s about having a passion for photos, wanting to better yourself and discovering what other bloggers are doing.

 You can also find the Photo Gallery on  Pinterest and Google +

Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

To ensure you don’t miss a prompt, you can subscribe to the Sticky Fingers feed to have them delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

 PLEASE don’t link dump – this is not that sort of linky!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/the-photo-gallery" title="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery"><img src="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Gallery-e1372717730880.png" alt="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
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The Photo Gallery is open for absolutely ANYONE to join in – be you on blog, Instagram, Flickr or any platform where you an host a photo.

See you over there x

Posted in Sport, The Gallery | 8 Comments

Win £300 of John Lewis vouchers courtesy of Everest Home Improvements

john lewisI don’t know about you but the minute the sunshine comes out, everything in my wardrobe, my house and my garden seems old and dated and I want to get out and buy ALL the pretty things!
After all of those long winter months, it’s time to get outside into the warm and bask in the summer glow.
Even better than that is when there is a Bank Holiday looming; three-day weekends are heaven.

I’ve teamed up with the people at Everest to help make those three-day weekend dreams come true!
Because they too understand that sometimes three is better than two – just like the Everest triple glazing for instance (ba boom wish!) – they want to help you celebrate the next long Bank Holiday weekend on August 31 by offering this fab prize.

So for your chance to win £300 worth of John Lewis vouchers to help you enjoy the last bank holiday of the summer, Everest want to know how you are planning on enjoying your long summer weekend.
It really is as simple as that.

You can also follow Everest Home Improvements on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about their offers or visit the Everest website. You can also request a free brochure here: www.everest.co.uk/brochure

How to enter

So what do you have to do to get your hands on £300 of John Lewis vouchers? All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is fill in the widget below and cross your fingers! Best of luck x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you want to find other competitions hosted on UK-based blogs, check out my Pinterest board for more places to win!

Follow Tara Cain’s board The UK Giveaway/Competition Community Board on Pinterest.

Rules:
The competition is open to residents of the UK only (sorry rest of the world) and those aged 18 and over.
The competition excludes employees and relatives of Sticky Fingers and Everest Home Improvements.
The prize is £300 worth of John Lewis vouchers. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Entry is via Rafflecopter.
Make sure your contact details are easily available.
The competition closes on Tuesday, June 30.
One winner will be chosen at random from all the entries after the closing date.
The winner will be asked to provide their full name and address for the prize to be sent to.
A winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen.

The winner’s name will be available on request.
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
This is a joint promotion between Sticky Fingers and Everest Home Improvements.
Entry to this competition confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. 

Posted in Competitions | 794 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 235

Gallery logoHello and welcome to week 235 of The Photo Gallery.
The theme for this week’s Photo Gallery is: Sport.

I’ve seen so many fabulous photos from proud parents on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as their kids taken part in everything from rugby and football, to swimming, athletics and gymnastics.
And I’ve seen grown ups pull on their kit for a spot of sport – loving seeing all the woman playing rugby in my Instagram timeline!

So I’m looking for lots of sport. I don’t care which one as long as it’s sweaty and played with passion!
As usual, interpret the theme any way you like, just ensure it fits with the theme.

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here, here’s a post to tell you all about what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to the Sticky Fingers blog and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | Leave a comment

Unmade bed

GLTC mattressFor many years I have battled with Mia over her unmade bed.
I’ve ranted and raved, threatened, despaired, moaned, whined, shouted. All to no avail. Her bed remains unmade.

And her room remains a mess. Clothes on the floor, along with anything else she’s picked up for a nano second and decided she no longer wants; all left on the floor where she was standing when she picked them up.
There are old school projects she simply refuses to throw away (oh I’ve tried believe you me; she’s fished them out of the recycle bin without telling me and the first I know about it is when they’ve miraculously reappeared in the space between the bottom on her bed and the chest of drawers). There are books, shoes, bits of paper, a blanket from downstairs, her school bag, school tie.

It’s not like she doesn’t have loads of storage space to put them all in, she just can’t be bothered. Or she likes a sea of stuff covering her carpet. Or she enjoys winding me up.
And there’s the thing; I couldn’t live like that, but she can. Does. Wants to.
When she can’t find something I need to just let it play out instead of allowing steam to escape from my ears and do the whole “well, if you’d only tidy your room like I’ve asked you . . .”

So it got to the point when I started to wonder why on earth I was making such a big deal about it. It’s her space, her ‘stuff’. Is her school work going to suffer if her bed is made every morning? Will she be a better person if I can see her carpet and not a sea of detritus? Of course not. It sounds like an easy position to get to, but did I mention that I couldn’t live like that? It wasn’t easy let me tell you, as every time I walked in her room, I would inwardly roar. And then turn around and shut the door and try to forget about it.

In the middle of all this I got a lovely email from the people at the Great Little Trading Company (whose catalogue I used to browse ALL THE TIME when my kids were little and would covet their gorgeous bedrooms). They wanted to know if Mia would like a bunkbed and would we review it?
I knew if I asked her she would bite my arm off right up to the elbow. It’s her dream. She wants to sleep on the top bunk and have the bottom bunk as a sofa.

So we say yes please and the husband suggests we also redecorate Mia’s room and make it a new grown up space. Give it a warm colour, change the pictures around.
We make a trip to Tesco to find some boxes because she wants to pack her whole room up into boxes and ‘pretend I’m moving house’. She locks herself away for most of the day and packs. Every now and again she pokes her head out of the door and asks if she should pack her books in one box or separate them so she can carry them into the spare room.
It’s possibly the cutest thing ever.

Mia and the husband paint her room together, Mia does the cutting in, husband does the rollering. She wears the most gorgeous little smile on her face the whole time.

Then it’s time to build the bed: we had the Bright White Darwin Bunk Bed.

gltc bunk bed build

We’ve built a lot of flat pack furniture over the years. We’ve experienced all kinds of instructions, from the plain useless to the amazingly detailed.
These instructions sit somewhere in the middle.
The build quality is excellent. I know this because every now and again, the husband stands back and does this little nod thing to indicate he’s rather impressed!

bunk bed building flat pack bunk bed building GLTC bunk beds white GLTC bunk bedGLTC white bunk beds
It all goes up rather quickly, but then disaster. We’ve put the side panels of the beds on the wrong way around. The instructions are mainly picture led and it doesn’t clearly show you which way around they should be used (or where the pre-drilled holes should be) and it’s not until we move onto the next phase of the build and turn the page, we realise our mistake.
So we have to take most of it apart and start again. Grrrr.
We get to the step ladder. We build it as instructed, go to fit it to the side of the bunk beds, but wait, what? It doesn’t fit. Oh, it does fit, you just can’t slot it into place with all of the slats fitted. We have to take the top one off, fit it to the side of the bunk and then add the top rung back in.
I suspect no one within the company has actually built the bed using the instructions. They’ve probably built a million beds like it and just whip them up in no time from memory. Well, we’ve not built a million beds like it and it was really annoying that the start of our GLTC journey was one of frustration.

Anyway, once it was finished and the mattresses were added, the bedding put in place and one very happy 9 year old was installed, I have to say we were delighted.
And here’s the best bit of all; since having her room revamped she has decided that she wants to be more grown up and keep it tidy.
The floor remains unlittered, she puts things back in their place when she’s finished with them and she MAKES HER BED.
She still throws dirty clothes under the bed mind you. Into that invisible laundry basket under there, see it?

new GLTC bunk bed

Posted in Dan & Mia, Other Review, Reviews | Tagged | 14 Comments

The only way to barbecue with friends

bbq 2A barbecue in the back garden used to be the most stressful chore known to man when my kids were little.
There was none of this romantic bunting hanging in the trees, fancy marinades on the meat, beer cooling in a tin bath filled with ice.
There was just me, stressed out to the eyeballs because there was OPEN FLAME around my babies.

Fast forward a few years and we still don’t do the bunting thing. Or the marinades.
To be honest, barbecues for us are quite simply an excuse to get together with friends. The emphasis being on getting together with friends. The food is almost secondary!

When the sun pokes it’s head out for an extended period over a weekend, it’s a quick phone call, rush to the supermarket, the local butcher, or raid the freezer (hello, frozen onions to sling in a pan and warm up for the tops of your burgers BEST INVENTION EVER).
It’s not about being fancy or showing off or ‘ooo look what we can do’ showboating, it’s about socialising, chatting and doing the minimum cooking required to ensure one person isn’t stuck getting a red face over the grill while they cook all the teriyaki-based chicken wings.

So this is our barbecue. Someone brought the salad, someone else brought the pudding and we all converge on the host’s house with packs of kids and chill out.
Thanks Ester for hosting this time!

bbq with friends bbq salad

bbq onionsHowever, all those early years of biting my bottom lip and worrying about chubby little hands grabbing at the grill haven’t left me completely. I fret less as my kids aren’t curious little munchkins wondering what that pretty red flame is and ‘ooooooo, I must touch it’. These days it’s more likely to be a ball careering directly towards the coals and a clumsy pre-teen determined to make the catch of all catches, despite the heat coming from the red hot pit. Pre-teens just don’t think :-)

So, barbecue safety. It basically consists of this:

1. Don’t grill where the kids play ball/a tree overhangs or the ground beneath your feet is uneven.

2. Don’t pour anything on the coals to speed up the process and get the flames going. Just don’t. It’s tempting I know ‘just chuck some petrol on, it’ll go up in no time’. Yes, but so will your eyebrows and half your hair. It’s really really not worth it. Plus who wants their food to taste of petrol?

3. Use long-handled tools for obvious reasons.

4. One of my favourite things cooked on the barbie is fish. In little foil parcels. Yum. BUT be very careful when opening said parcels and the steam escapes and burns everything in it’s path.

5. Always make sure the barbecue has extinguished when you leave it. And never ever ever leave young children playing around a still-hot barbie.

I’ve teamed up with More Than to write this post and help promote safety around the home.
For more information about how to prevent fires in the home you can see their interactive video here, with clever little pauses in for you to stop and pick up valuable information.

This is a sponsored post and was written in collaboration with More Than. 

Posted in Sponsored | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Photo Gallery 234: Buildings

Old Joe clock tower

My new job is to take photographs of beautiful buildings. Sort of.
This beauty sits on the campus of the university I work at (running their digital channels) and it is the tallest freestanding clock tower in the world. There is some confusion over just how tall it actually is but it’s Grade 2 listed, and is modelled on the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy.
And students on campus believe that if you walk through the tower archway when it chimes, you will fail your degree.

These are the facts and interesting titbits I get to research. And I just love this shot because it shows just how tall it is with the backdrop of a stunning blue sky. What you can’t see underneath is the hustle and bustle of student life; books being carried, bikes being parked, chatter, footsteps, people lost in deep thought.
I love that buildings can give so much back – this one has been doing it for over a hundred years!

This post is for week 234 of The Photo Gallery. The theme is: Buildings.

Now it’s your turn to link up your post and join in. If you’re new here and want to know what the Photo Gallery feature is, go and read all about it, and then come right back and join in!

Here’s how to join in

Take a photo using the theme I’ve given as your inspiration. There are no rules and you can interpret the theme any way you like. Write a blog post or caption. You can write as many or as few words as you like. You don’t even need to use a new photo; just a photo you think represents the prompt.

 Add the Photo Gallery badge (and the foot of this post) to your post so other readers can find the other entries.

 Use the linky tool at the bottom of this post to link up your post so readers can find you. The linky stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.

➤ Tweet me with the hashtag #thegallery and I will retweet and share your entry (you can find me on Twitter @Tara_Cain). Or you can  use the hashtag #thegallery on Instagram (I’m over there as TaraLara) and I will share and comment on your photos there.

Now go visit as many of the other entries as you can. Leave a comment, discover new blogs, discover new ways of taking photos and maybe share any tips you have.

The Photo Gallery isn’t about taking technically brilliant photos. You can take them on your phone, your point and shoot or your fancy pants camera. It’s about having a passion for photos, wanting to better yourself and discovering what other bloggers are doing.

 You can also find the Photo Gallery on  Pinterest and Google +

Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

To ensure you don’t miss a prompt, you can subscribe to the Sticky Fingers feed to have them delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

 PLEASE don’t link dump – this is not that sort of linky!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/the-photo-gallery" title="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery"><img src="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Gallery-e1372717730880.png" alt="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
 Loading InLinkz ...

The Photo Gallery is open for absolutely ANYONE to join in – be you on blog, Instagram, Flickr or any platform where you an host a photo.

See you over there x

Posted in The Gallery | 12 Comments