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Our last puppy was dumped in a box by our car at the tender age of 9 weeks. We weren't ready for a puppy or experienced or even prepared but we took her in and she had a happy 10 years with our family. However the first 6 months were horrendous and we vowed never to have another puppy. The damage and mess she caused were unbelievable. This was mostly our fault for not being prepared but when you become a dog owner in the circumstances we did, we could only do our best!
So this time round, having gone back on our vow and researching new puppies - we decided to buy a puppy cage for the first few months of his life. What a fabulous decision!
We brought a Golden Retriever so we needed a pretty large cage to cope with his rapid growth and eventual size and therefore we had to pay the higher price for this. The cage we brought was around the £50 mark and we obtained it new from eBay, but I think they are slightly more expensive in the shops.
It is made from metal and has a smooth black coating on it which makes it look and feel more comfortable than straight metal. The base is a large metal tray which slides out of the main cage to clean it and you simply add blankets, towels or bedding on to the tray for the dog to be comfortable.
The other good thing is that the sides and top all collapse in and fold down to a very slim storage size. Very good idea for when you are finished using it. And to make life even easier mine has two doors, one on the end and one on the side, so wherever you end up placing the cage in your house, there is an easily accessible door for your dog to go in and out of.
The reason for having this cage? Well, Max went into here at night time and was shut in so he had no chose but to bed down and couldn't get up to any mischief. Dogs also don't like to "mess" in their beds so this does help in keeping your puppy clean through the night. As long as in the early weeks you get up in the night and let them out at least once or twice, depending on age, you should have a clean cage and puppy in the morning.
We also used to pop him in there if we went out. Just short periods mind you. This keeps him safe and keeps your house safe too. Nothing can be chewed or poo'd on and you should come home to a happy pup.
We laid a towel over the top of our cage as it helped to create a warmer, darker den feel for him and he certainly seemed happy enough in there.
We seem to have cracked toilet training now "fingers crossed" and the cage has been moved to the back of my car so he can travel in there to the park, but I would have no hesitation in reintroducing it if he starts to chew my house up - although all well at the moment.
I would highly recommend a cage for your pup, it takes a lot of stress and worry out of the early days and having been through those days without one, this time round has been so much better!
Having acquired our new puppy, Max, we have embarked on the training routine with gusto. Not really knowing the best thing to use for training treats we brought lots of different things and have found these to be one of the best "shop brought" treats for Max.
I have different treats for different aspects of his training, and these are used for telling him he is a good boy when he uses the garden for toileting in.
They are basically very small tidbits, flavoured with cheese and meat which is an attractive smell to dogs - (each to their own I say). However they are not overly smelly to me in comparison to some of the other dog treats out there and for this reason I do not use them for training him to "come" or anything else that requires him to be giving me his full attention. For those instances I use cut up pieces of chicken or sausage or whatever I have that is really smelly, as this really gets him going and learns to do what I am asking of him that bit faster.
These treats are however, great for praising good behavior. With a dog of Max's size - Golden Retriever - he is allowed to have up to 75 pieces a day from this bag but I really only give him about 10-15 as this is all that is required from them. At 2 calories per treat they are not too bad on his waist line either.
They would be good to use as treats when you go out as well, as they are quite dry and you could easily carry a few in your pocket without ending up attracting all the dogs in the neighbour hood.
They are nice and soft and easy on puppy's teeth, which is good as well.
Negative - slightly on the pricey side if you were intending on using them for every aspect of puppy training but otherwise well worth it for my needs.
While waiting in the queue at the chemist my children saw these vitamins and decided thye should really start taking them on a daily basis. The fact that they are soft, chewy, fruity, tasty, delicous and resemble a sweetie had nothing to do with it of course. They wanted to improve their health and I, as their mum, could not refuse.
Each box contains 30 vitamins - one a day - and are for children aged 3 and above. They come in a variety of flavours but my daughter prfers these strawberry flavoured ones.
They are foil sealed to keep them fresh and prevent them from getting sticky, and when you pop them out of the sealed packet they really do resemble a chewy sweet. Dark pink in colour and smooth on the outside, they remind me of fruit pastilles without the sugar coating. My daughter certainly enjoys her morning treat!
Insie they have the following vitamins - A B C D & E which all provide individual health benefits from maintaining healthy bones and hair through to healthy blood vessels and a host of supporting boosts which help the body to absorb other forms of vitamins and minerals from the child's food.
I have no proff that these work and offer additional benfits to my children, but I am pretty happy and secure that they don't harm or hinder either. So when my children ask for the daily vitamin I have no qualms in offering it to them.
Every now and then I just cannot be bothered to ask round the four kids and husband what they all want for lunch as invariable it will end being five different things and I feel like a cafe owner.
So now and again I just grab a saucepan and some hotdog rolls and heat up these lovely hotdogs in the pan for everyone's lunch. I always have a jar in the cupboard just for these occasions.
The hotdogs are huge, fat and long, so I know one will be enough as a lunch for the kids as the roll itself will help to fill them up too. The hot dogs are very tasty. They have that essential frankfurter kind of taste. A little bit spicy (but not hot) with a smooth texture that seems to disappear as you chew. I love the fact that they are so thick though as it means you can really taste the "meat??" in them around the bread roll and tomato sauce.
Being in a jar, they are sort of twisted round inside and this sometimes makes it difficult to get them out, especially if you are only warming up one or two, but if you want the whole jar just give it an upside shake over the pan and they all come falling out eventually.
These are brill for that quick, filling lunch - and great chopped up in small pieces for puppy training!!
Palmolive Pure Cashmere Intense Hydration shower cream has been in my shopping trolley for many months now. I originally brought it from Superdrug as it was on offer and we tried it out.
My husband suffers with very sensitive skin under his arms and especially when it is warm weather he can get quite a sore area there. After using this shower cream for around a week, the sore itchy area completely healed up and disappeared and has never returned, despite brief sidetracking to other Palmolive shower creams. I have given it five stars simply for this fact, let alone the other great properties that it has.
The cream is very smooth and thick when it comes out of the bottle and feels very luxurious as you apply it to your body. The cream turns to foam very easily and you don't need tonnes of the stuff to clean your entire self. I will complain slightly about the shape of the bottle though. Being a simple oval shape it is easy to tip up and squeeze out when it is full, but as you use it up the bottle goes very concave in the middle, making it harder and harder to squeeze the contents out. A rethink on bottle shape would be good.
The smell is fairly subtle and doesn't remind me of anything, but just has a nice clean aroma to it which doesn't last once you are out of the shower, meaning there will be no cross over with your perfume/aftershave.
Price and availability are a bit of a sticking point though. It is very expensive stuff at around the £3.89 mark for the larger bottle. I always stock up when I see it on offer anywhere, but that's a problem too. Everywhere seems to have stopped stocking it. Sainsburys stopped ages ago in my town, Superdrug no more and now Boots who I brought my last lot from have got rid of the label from the shelf (I brought their remaining stock last time!) I will have to buy it from the Internet now or go searching in larger stores outside my area. Very frustrating.
However the proven effectiveness of the shower cream has my husband hooked and he won't use anything else now so I will be trauling the shops everytime I visit the next town for this fantastic, luxury shower cream.
Odd Thomas is back in the second book in this series and this time he faces an adversary that proves to be much harder, physically and mentally than any he has faced before.
His best friend, Danny, who is crippled with a brittle bone disease, has been kidnapped and his step-father brutally murdered in the process. Dr Jessup, Danny's step-father, visits Odd Thomas in the night as a spirit and leads him to the house so he can find his body and the realisation that Danny has been kidnapped.
Odd true to form, cannot let this go and using his "physic magnetism" ends up tracking Danny down to an abandoned hotel room. He is tied to a chair, rigged to a bomb. His captor? Datura, a completely insane, crazy woman who wants to "see" a ghost and believes Odd Thomas can conjure them up for her pleasure. Kidnapping Danny was the only way to get Odd here.
All Odd has to do now is rescue Danny without the bomb going off, kill Datura and her two evil henchmen and get his friend out of the abandoned hotel with both of their lives still intact. Easy?
I was pleased I had aquired all four of the Odd Thomas books before I started to read, as once I had finished the first book I wanted to start this one straight away. Forever Odd was just as exciting in a completely different way, with Odd knowing who his adversary was pretty early in, compared to the first book where he was unsure what and who would cause the problems for him.
An explanation of Odd Thomas is needed I think - he is a regular young man with one exception. He sees dead people wandering around Pico Mundo, the small desert town where he lives, and each is clinging to this life for a reason. As they can't talk, Odd finds it difficult to help them but occasionally, like in the case of Dr Jessup, he can easily figure it out simply by following them and the truth is revealed in all its grisly nature.
This second book was excellent as much as the first, and I particularly liked Datura the evil kidnapping killer in this story. She is completely off her rocker and Koontz gets that state of mind over really well. She comes across as bonkers but with a dangerous edge and a "don't care about anything else" attitude which makes her an excellent character to use.
Odd is again endearing, sweet, kind and determined to rescue his lifelong friend and you really feel for him in some parts of the book, especially at the beginning.
This book had a different edge to it than the first which gave it a fresh feel, something that can be difficult with a series, but we also got enough feedback from the first book to know how things panned out for him. Also for a first time reader who had not read the first book, it was possible to get his history without overloading repeats for the continuation of others.
Overall I really enjoyed this second book, following Odd Thomas as he tried to sort out this latest crazy chapter of his life. Highly recommended although I would definitely read Odd Thomas first as it will heighten the pleasure of this one.
Odd Thomas is a 20 year old young man with the head and experience of a 50 year old. During the course of his average day as a fry cook at the Pico Mundo Grill, he sees dead people and bodachs.
Dead people I think you might know about, but bodachs are black, smoky animals that only he can see and they start to sniff around humans when a major "violent" catastrophe is about to befall them. The dead people are simply hangers on who can't move to the next world for whatever reason. They can't talk but can try and communicate in other ways. Odd's most continuous visitor is Elvis no less, who loves to hang around him and ponder.
When Odd Thomas sees the bodachs he has to act instinctively to save the people/person involved, even though he will usually have no idea what is going to happen. So when he sees a guy in the Grill who he feels very uneasy about, with an entourage of bodachs following him, he has to investigate before something very nasty happens.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It is the first in a series of four books and one I had been putting off for some time as I had a funny feeling about it, but biting the bullet and getting stuck in I whizzed through the story greedily.
I adore Odd Thomas! The man is so strange yet lives his life so sensibly that you can't help but be endeared to him. He has a girlfriend - Stormy Llewellyn - who is absolutely everything to him and vice versa, and their passion for each other is what drives Odd as much as anything else. The fact that Elvis loves him too works for me. As bizarre as it sounds writing it down here, it seems perfectly natural after about the second chapter that the King of Rock & Roll should be hanging around a little desert town with Odd Thomas!
This is a tale of super-natural beings but it didn't seem sci-fi at all, or particularly scary either to be honest. It was a good "teeth in" thriller sort of book and with the threat to the residents of Pico Mundo being human, made it all the more real and less super-natural for me which was a really good mix.
Koontz has thought through Odd's character so well, and you get snippets of his life growing up - (poor Odd!) - which really help with character development, and all add up to make him the person he is.
I would highly recommend this read and then the continuation of the set, I'm so glad I did.
Having brought our new puppy into the family, we had to stock up on new "puppy safe" toys.
In Pets At Home we found the Puppy Kong toy and having read previously good reports and feedback about Kong we purchased it along with the Puppy Kong paste to squirt inside.
Basically this toy is a kind of hollow cone shaped toy, made from softer rubber than normal Kong toys so that a puppy has a chance of being able to chew it and get rewarded with whatever treat has been stuffed inside.
When your puppy starts to teeth and get adult teeth, the kong toy can be frozen making it even more of a relief to chew on with the freezing rubber soothing their gums.
We have the biscuits and the paste to stuff inside but I have found the toy holds more interest for my dog with the paste inside. He is 3 months old and finds it easier to lick at the inside and taste the paste than to try and get any biscuits out at the moment. As he gets older and uses his noodle more I am sure he will figure out how to get at the biscuits and retrieve them but for now the paste works well.
It easy to wash through by running under a warm tap and poking your fingers or a thin "bottle" brush inside. The paste is slightly more of a pain to clean but not too bad.
These toys are fairly expensive though - or at least the Kong treats for inside are. The initial expense of the toy, £5.99, can be offset by the fact that it should last your puppy through until they are big enough and strong enough to use an adult toy, but the treats are too expensive if you use the Kong version. The paste is worth it, although at £6.49 for a tube which would probably last a couple of weeks it is still fairly high, but the biscuits are around the £5.00 mark for a smallish box and to be honest I will use ordinary dog biscuits, broken up to push inside from now on.
Overall I am pleased with this Kong puppy toy and Max seems to enjoy it when I need him to be calm and concentrate on something other than my trouser legs for a while!
On her 40th birthday, just as Nina and her family are due to fly to Florida for Christmas, her 16 year old daughter, Charlie, goes missing. Nina knows she has not just turned some teenage rebellion trick and that there is something seriously wrong with the picture, but trying to convince the police of this is proving difficult.
Suspicous of everyone, even her ex-husband, Nina frantically chases her tail round Sandling Island, the small island she lives on, in search for her daughter or clues to help find her. But when the dead body of one of Charlie's friends turns up Nina's pace steps up.
I did enjoy this book although it felt very mundane for the first half with Nina repeating things over and over and to be honest there just wasn't enough action for me. I think it was written to try and build up the suspense of what had happened to Charlie, but it came across as a little boring to start with. I had to make myself continue reading and I was glad I did because the last half of the book was a lot better with lots of revelations and things coming forward to help fill in the pictures.
Another annoying thing was that there were no chapters. It is just one long run of text and while I may have enjoyed this if I had a whole day to lounge around and read, I have to snatch my reading time while in the bath or for half an hour at the end of the day before bed. Not having any chapters meant it was difficult to find a convenient place to stop, but I managed and so I guess it is just a minor niggle.
The overall style of the book was meant to be very suspenseful and the authors pulled that off to a certain extent, but if the first half had been a quicker pace I think it would have worked a lot better overall.
I really do like Nicci French books but this is not as good as the other ones I have read although is still worth a read if you are a fan.
Finally I have found a packet of cheap biscuits (30p) that I can buy regularly. The kids love them and so do I!
The shortbread fingers are really good value. Each finger is about the same size, maybe not as thick, as the more expensive brands and taste delicous. They are crumbly enough to make you think of real homemade shortbread but not too loose to drop off in your cup of tea.
Although they are not really buttery in taste I actually prefer these to some of the others and they are not too sweet either. When we are running low on sweet treats for lunch boxes I pop a couple of these fingers into the kids lunch and they are perfect. At 30p a packet I don't mind buying 2 or 3 packs a week (4 kids!) as they are very good value.
They are biscuits so the fat content and sugars are not for you if you're on a diet but hey, live life on the wild side and I can reccommend you won't be disappointed.
Edgar Freemantle had a great life until he collided with a crane on one of his building sites and nearly died. Losing an arm instead and having various issues with his head which was crused in the accident, his marriage finally collapses due to his crazed behaviour during and after recovery. His decision to move to Duma Key and recouperate away from the stresses of life will change his life forever.
Once there, in a rented house called Big Pink, he settles down and starts to paint again, something he used to do when he was much younger. His paintings are very good but he soon finds out they seem to have a power that is incomprehensible.
I adored this book! After trying to read Lisey's Story and giving up, Duma Key restored my faith in King and I settled in for the long read with a greed for his stories.
I absolutely loved the characters in this book but my favourite was Edgar's freind who lives down the beach from him on Duma, Wireman. I built up such a picture of him through King's narrative and dialouge and if this was made into a film then Jeff Bridges would have to play him a that is how I see him. His character however is amazing. He is the full time live in carer for an old lady who lives on the Key and his friendship with Edgar and their subsequent investigative work over some of the strange things that are happening is fantastic. While we're talking characters if this were a film - then Roxy from Eastenders would play Edgar's daughter perfectly too!
This is a horror book, as well as a thriller, a love story (not the normal kind) and a mystery but all lumped in together it really works and the end result is a brilliant read. I did get the willies a couple of times, when some of the narrative turned to spooky goings on with the young twin sister's of the old lady but it was in a good way - it made me want to read more to justify what was happening and how I was feeling.
Would I recommend? Absolutely, it's long but worth it, especially if you were disillusioned with some of his last offerings.
WOW! This is the new and most favoured brand of hot chocolate to hit my household. Gone are the sachets of Skinny Cow and Options and hello to the full fat, full bubbles, full taste hot chocolate I have been waiting for.
This hot chocolate drink can be made straight from the sachet/jar simply by adding hot water. With the jar it tells you to use 4 spoonfuls but I think 3 is enough, allowing for a few extra drinks from each jar.
Be careful when you pour on the water as it bubbles and froths up immediately and the first one I poured went straight over the edges of the cup and all over the work surface.
The taste however is what you have been waiting for (at least I have) and it was worth it. It is thick, even though it is made with water not milk, and very creamy. The chocolately taste comes through beautifully but it is not too sweet and actually borders on not sweet enough sometimes although you would never need to add sugar.
The light and airy nature of the areo choclate bar follows through in this drink somehow. It remains light and airy all the way through and I have never had undissolved lumps of powder in the bottom of the cup as you can with cheaper drinking chocolate.
It's not cheap however £2.17 for the 288g jar. This will give you approximately 12 servings if you use 4 spoonfuls but I get more by using only 3 spoonfuls, less for the kids as they have smaller mugs.
Calories - well if you care, there is 99 cals per mugful and 14.3g of sugars which is quite high but there you go - you want the taste you have to deal with the consequences.
My verdict? - Yummy!
Tom Meron and his wife are happily married, living in the outskirts of London with their two children. Tom thinks they are happy until he receives a call from a very old, good friend who he hasn't spoken to in four years. His friend, Jack, is obviously being chased and Tom hears Jack's final words telling whoever was chasing him, Tom's address and then to his horror he hears what can only be his old friends death.
Being dropped from a happy life into one of terror, mystery and the unknown, Tom finds himself faced with more evil than he has ever seen and he needs to find his wife to make sure she is safe before whoever has his address turns up and finds him.
Having just finished this book it is still fresh in my mind and I can say it was honestly quite enjoyable. There was nothing too major to have work out or think about and the "normal" thrill of this story, with the chase and the various characters allowed me to dip in each night without worrying about putting the book down. That's not a negative thing either. I like a good book to get my teeth into but you also need easy books that allow you to read for just half an hour each night or while in the bath. I am a busy mum and don't have time for marathon reads through a Sunday.
The book was fast paced enough so as not to get bogged down with sentiment and emotion and the action was well described. I was surprised it was based in London and other parts of England as I hadn't known that when I started the book and I thought it would be American, so it was a nice surprise to read about home soil.
Overall, this was nothing new in terms of the plot line, and the characters were believable without being boring or over the top. It was a nice easy read that kept me going through to the end and concluded satisfactorily.
Nothing amazing but glad I read it anyway.
I needed a quick fix. Something that was not a huge read and could get me through a nice easy week or so of reading. Looking through my To Read pile Shattered popped out as a small book and as it was Dean Koontz, an author I enjoy, it was perfect.
Basically you have a chase thriller on your hands. Alex and his new wife's little brother, Colin, are driving to San Francisco to meet up with her and move into their new house and new dream lives. Everything starts off perfectly with Colin and Alex playing games as they begin their drive.
However, things soon turn dark, with a removal van trailing them relentlessy and seeming to appear wherever they are - cafes, hotel, motels - everywhere!
The driver? An unknown to Alex but an adversary that turns the normally pacifist man into one who has to fight to protect himself and his wife's brother. Why is he chasing them? Alex has no idea and things can only get worse when they arrive at their destination.
I really did enjoy this book and it was the type you could read in a good solid afternoon if you had the time. I liked the fact that there were only really three main characters as it allowed you to really get to know them, even if the book is short. The supporting characters leant themselves just enough to provide the outside interest but not so much that it disrupted the flow of the main people.
The simple plot was actually very clever too. There were no distractions that made it hard to read, it was simply straightforward and perfect for getting your teeth into. There was enough tension to keep you hooked and enough horror, in the macabre sense, to keep you reading if you associate Koontz with that type of thing.
Overall a recommended read if you like Koontz or thriller/chase/murder type books. It wasn't as good as The Good Guy by any means, another great chase book by Koontz, but well worth a read.
Jake Roenick is a cop who's life has taken a downward spiral since the undercover drug operation he was working on with his partner went wrong and he was killed.
It's New Years Eve and all is fairly quiet in Precinct 13, where Roenick is working for the night with a couple of other cops, gaurding the final few prisoners before transport comes to transfer them elsewhere dur to Precinct 13 being shut down shortly after New Year.
All hell breaks loose though as men break into the station trying to rescue Bishop, one of the prisoners, or is it rescue on their minds? Who are the men firing guns and setting off explosions?
I really enjoyed this film and found there was a good lot of action to keep me satisfied coupled with a good plot to keep the mind ticking over.
Ethan Hawke always surprises me for some reason and he does a great job of pulling off this role as Roenick. He seems to mould to whatever character he is given, in whatever genre the film is and flourish with his performance.
Laurence Fishburne plays the laid back baddie, Bishop and things become clearer as the film goes on as to how everyone is involved and this pans out really well.
I like the fact that it is quite distinctive after a while who's against who, and it is easy to follow and know who you want to win.
This is well paced action film with lots going on to keep you interested and some good acting.