At-Home Spa For Little Paws


I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but Lincoln battles some severe allergies. Because of this, he has been put on and taken off of medication, gets an immunotherapy shot once a month, and takes regular medicated baths. It can be a lot of work and trial and error; a mixture of some of these practices can also be really counterproductive. Like, when regular medicated baths (directed by our vet) began to dry out his skin which caused him to itch for a whole other reason!

Let's face it. I know my pets better than anyone so it's up to me to trial and tweak this process. While researching for an upcoming post about homemade laundry detergent (that's coming later), I discovered some elements that could, in fact, benefit Lincoln and his itchies.  


Baking Soda helps to deodorize and balance PH levels of water and in this case also Lincoln's skin. 
Essential Oils:
Tea Tree Oil works as a natural astringent, helping to heal infection and kill fungi. Peppermint Oil is a natural antiseptic and contains anti-inflammatory properties. Others like Lemongrass, Lavender, and Eucalyptus (also Peppermint) smell yummy and keep pesky bugs away. 
Epsom Salt helps ease aches, pains (I know because I load my bath with it post gym time) and aids in healing minor scrapes. Now this isn't something I would include in homemade laundry detergent but I thought it couldn't hurt when it comes to Lincoln's recently pulled back and itchy paws. 

So here's what we tried over the weekend -- I ran a warm bath, about three to four inches deep and let the water cool down to a comfy temperature. I then added some baking soda and Epsom salts and used my hand to stir the water to help them both dissolve. Once totally dissolved, I added a few drops of tea tree oil and lavender oil to the bath and gave it another good stir around. My bathroom was smelling delicious at this point!

Once I popped Lincoln in the bath, I used the bath water to rinse him down and let his feet soak. After a minute or two I washed him, head to toe, with an aloe/derma shampoo. I then rinsed him with the bath water again, removing as much shampoo as possible and continued to rinse him thoroughly with clean, warm water. We finished with a good towel dry, his favorite part!

After the bath, Lincoln felt so soft and smelled lovely! Throughout the day following, he was noticeably more relaxed and his skin seemed to not bother him at all. He usually has itchy spells throughout the day, even right after his usual baths. So this outcome is HUGE! I'm hoping we're moving down the right track towards more improvement. I loved the way he felt and smelled so much I bathed Lily the same way. I'm convinced I have two of the best smelling pups in England after their little spa day!

I'll be sure to keep you all updated as we continue to use this bathing routine. Have any questions or other suggestions? Please, leave comments below!






Getting Back to Productive

Okay, so I was never going to post on Christmas Day. I didn't have anything planned and I knew no one was reading on Monday. But Wednesday I had every intention of posting something! I really need to get some of my pro blogger friends to help me set up something automated. Anyway, I don't know about you but in the days from Christmas to New Years, I am just one million percent unproductive. Crimbo Limbo hits me and hits me hard! So, I decided to scrub the lazy idea of posting today what I was meaning to post on Wednesday and write something that pertains to the post-holiday laziness. Pretty productive right?! 

Get out of your PJs! 

The days leading up to Christmas we are all rushing around making sure everything is wrapped and we have everything we need in the fridge. After that, the big day arrives and so do the family members. After all of the entertaining, cooking, cleaning, and merriment, at the first sign of downtime, we jump into it and we don't come out -- for days! So, the first step in snapping out of that vegetative state is to get dressed and ready like you have somewhere to go even if you don't. Because getting yourself up and presentable is a ritual that sets your mind and body in motion for the day. I always like taking it a step further and go out for a cup of coffee. I feel like getting out and seeing and hearing the buzz sets me in motion as well. If you do head out for a cuppa, don't forget your Ecoffee Cup! I know you guys put those on your Christmas list! 

Get outside and take a walk.

Whether you have pets or not, walking is good for you and the fresh air is beneficial too. If you don't have any walking routes that are particularly scenic, or you live in a populated neighborhood, switch it up and head out in the evening. There should still be plenty of Christmas lights to gaze at! This also gives you the perfect excuse to come home and make some more hot chocolate!

Write things down.

I have a notebook that I write everything in; To-Do lists, shopping lists and just pages of rambles and ideas. It keeps my head straight so I don't forget things and it also gives me the opportunity to write down my intentions for the day or even days ahead. I find that even if it doesn't make sense right away getting your thoughts out on paper clears your head and opens you up some great ideas. If you manage to have a great idea, go on and do it! Take advantage of the free time!

I always recycle my notebooks once they're full but I'm thinking perhaps dictation is a better route, that way I can save the paper altogether. I'm still not 100 percent comfortable speaking out loud into my phone. I have friends who are total pros, so if that's your it!

Go to the cinema.

As a teen and 20-something, going to the movies was what I did on the regular. If there was a good film playing and I had no class or an evening off work, you can bet your ass I was at the movie theatre. Although I still live for the movies, I don't go to the theatre as much as I used to. So, getting out and escaping real life for a couple of hours is always fun! Plus there's popcorn! Want a suggestion on what to go see? The Greatest Showman is unbelievable!!

Clean up.

I like to put my Christmas gifts away or find their respective places in my home. This, of course, leads to sorting through things that I don't use much anymore. Deciding what can stay and what needs to go makes you take stock of the items that really matter and belong in your house. Clearing your space also clears your mind. Then, before you know it, the vacuum comes out. You see where I'm going with this? Take an afternoon or even a day and enjoy your tidy home all the way to 2018!

They aren't profound, but I hope that some of these ideas get you up and moving! Enjoy and we'll see you next year! 




The Man Who Always Sleighs

Santa Claus by Norman Rockwell for Kelloggs

Santa Claus by Norman Rockwell for Kelloggs

He's a man of legend and there are so many stories about him. He even has a dark side. So, how much do we know about the origins of the "jolly old elf"? 

His real-life home is widely disputed; the man known as Saint Nicholas didn't reside in Finland. He was, in fact from Myra, an ancient Greek town in present-day Turkey. As the story goes, was born into a rich family and known for his charity. It wasn't until the Middle Ages when his popularity skyrocketed. According to Mark Forsyth's book, A Christmas Cornucopia, he was the patron saint of more than 100 professions, as well as children, orphans, those in financial need, and so much more. Long story short, the guy would have won every popularity contest! So, it really isn't surprising that this very real man set the groundwork for the legend that we've all grown up with.

The tradition of giving gifts was originally December 6th. A Reformation in Holland tried hard to ban him, but Saint Nicholas and his tradition thrived. It was even brought to present-day New York in the 1600's by sailors from Amsterdam. Their patron saint -- you guessed it!

Hop in the Delorean, gun it to 88, and jump to the early 1800's, (1804 to be exact) when the New York Historical Society named Saint Nicholas its patron saint. The activities of the society were recorded and sensationalised by Washington Irving. It's popularity led to many traditions associated with our beloved Santa Claus today, like stockings and performing the only B&E that is okay with everyone via the chimney.

Santa Claus or Father Christmas
Let's get this dispute out of the way real quick! They are basically the same! According to his legend, Father Christmas was, in fact, an Englishman who became a personification of the season. Christmas is obviously celebrated as both a religious holiday and a festival, so Father Christmas was the guy who oversaw the feasting and everything that comes with the merriment surrounding the festival. He seems like a pretty fun guy if I'm honest. So when he appeared in pamphlets protesting the Puritans attempt to abolish all things merry (what is it with these people?!?), he appeared as an old man with a beard and quite fat and jolly. His appearance makes sense as beards keep you warm when it's cold and if you're the guy overseeing all the fun stuff like eating and partying, you're probably going to be showing a few extra pounds and have that lovely I-may-have-had-a-bit-too-much-to-drink rosiness to your cheeks. These are all the physical attributes you'd want for such a person!  

In the 19th century, Charles Dickens adapted the original idea of Christmas from partying to more of a family celebration and a time where gifts were exchanged, being presented by Magi to Jesus (The Three Wise Men). These factors and so many more* laid the foundation for a certain Mr. Claus from the United States. So, if you want to get technical, there's barely a difference. Father Christmas seems like a bit more of a good time and Santa Clause is a more of a family guy. But the two both embody this festive season perfectly. After reading all this interesting stuff, if I had to pick between the two...Father Christmas seems more like my kind of guy. So this year instead of cookies and milk on Christmas Eve, maybe a minced pie and whiskey! 😉

*Washington Irving wasn't the only one to contribute to the personification of Santa Claus. During the 19th century a variety of poems and stories added to certain facts that are still remembered about him today. A poem from (1869) placed his workshop at the North Pole and my favorite story as a child, Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, named all of Santa's reindeer (sans Rudolph). It also shifted the date that gifts were given from December 6th and New Years Eve (in Britain) to Christmas Eve. Rudolph was comissioned in a coloring book by Montgomery Ward Department Store in Chicago in 1939 for their customers. Robert L. May was responsible for the "poor Ruldoph" story with him being bullied for his shining red nose. May's brother-in-law wrote the famous song about it and in 1964 a movie was made which was one of my favorites to watch growing up. And that red suit? Just another element created for a commissioned painting at The New York Historical Society. 



White Christmas

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Yesterday it snowed! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am about it! The last few winters here have been pretty mild, which has really made me miss the fluffy white stuff. I spent most of the day bundled up, consuming warm beverages and yummy food, while walking around the Leeds Christmas Market with friends. I really hope we get one more good snow before Christmas. It makes the season all the more special. 

To get you feeling a bit more Christmasy, here is one of my favorite poems:


[little tree]

By E.E. Cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see       i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look       the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold and the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

Battling Cold Symptoms at Home


It's that time of year; you're tired and been burning the candle at both ends when you feel it, that little tickle on the back of your throat. UGH! That scratchy feeling is the first indicator that you need to slow down because if you don't a cold is inevitable. So what to do when you need something to soothe the symptoms before they get worse? 

Here are a few things you can whip up at home. Pair them with a hot bath and plenty of rest and you'll be feeling better in no time!

Lemon & Honey
This one is super easy and you can have it as often as you need. Simply add the juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon (or 2) of honey to a mug of hot water and you're set! While you sip, the lemon juice soothes your throat, while the honey combats any inflammation you may have.

Chicken Soup
This isn't just an option for tasty, old-school comfort. Chicken soup has been proven to reduce postnasal drip, which contributes to sore throats. Everyone has at least one can around right? So turn on the hob and get cookin'! 

Herbal Tea
We all have some somewhere in the back of our pantries and there is a variety that can help you build your immune system and combat cold symptoms: 

  • Tumeric tea has anti-inflammatory properties, along with many other great health benefits.
  • Camomile tea is calming, relaxing and will help you sleep. 
  • Chai is said to boost the immune system.

Now obviously, these aren't miracle cures but they can help your symptoms improve. Please keep in mind that a visit to your doctor is a good idea if your sore throat is accompanied by a fever or if the pain is severe and makes it difficult to swallow. Better safe than sorry!


Gifting Goodwill


Christmas is the season of giving and there are plenty of ways to give this time of year. If you're really feeling the holiday spirit and want to give to more than just family, there are plenty of ways to help those in need. 

"As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others."


Be Kind:
Give unwanted clothes and toys to families who may appreciate some extra help this year. There are plenty of ways to do so. The Salvation Army offers the Christmas Present Appeal which collects toys for children ranging from newborns to teenagers. You can reserve a place at Crisis, a shelter for homeless men and women, to ensure a warm meal and so much more for as little as £26. You can also visit and give goods to your local food bank! 

Luke and I always choose a local charity to help out on Christmas. Last year we donated to our local food bank towards ensuring that every family got a turkey for Christmas dinner. I also put together 50+ linen bags filled with necessities that women don't think or have the time to take with them when fleeing a violent situation. I delivered them all to our local women's shelter the week before Christmas. 

This year I'm donating to my favorite dog charity, The French Bulldog Rescue Network, who rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home French Bulldogs in need of better forever homes in the USA and Canada. Their volunteers foster these lucky dogs taking care to provide education, training, and a safe loving environment to rehabilitate until they are ready to be rehomed in well-suited loving forever homes. You can make a general donation or send money to a particular pup whos story touches your heart here

Another organization I've decided to contribute to is End The Backlog, a charity that focuses on shining a light on the massive rape kit backlog in the United States. Due to lack of policies, protocol, and resources, a staggering number of rape kits have yet to be analyzed. Which potentially leaves serial offenders unpunished. Donations help to advocate for policy reforms, working with communities to uncover and address their backlogs, and conduct groundbreaking research. 

If you don't have a cause that's close to your heart or you are a bit overwhelmed by all the choices there are, Give Well is a website that showcases top-rated charities, allowing you to discover great giving opportunities! 

Spend Time:
The Do It Trust offers plenty of volunteer opportunities via a national database based on a simple postcode search. And Age UK offers be-friending, or ‘visiting’ services, where a volunteer can visit or talk to an older person once a week in their own home; a great cause considering many elderly folks regularly go weeks without speaking to anyone. 


When we do good things for others, incidentally we do good for ourselves. Doing genuinely good deeds can reduce stress and build endorphin levels. Who doesn't want to feel warm and fuzzy during Christmas?! So bake some cookies for a local charity drive or opt for a coffee at home and give those few saved pounds to a bell ringing Santa Claus. Invest a little time in others and invest in your wellbeing too! Lets all make some meaningful connections this year! 





Pie for the Holidays

When the holidays roll around, baking pies is something that makes me feel at home. Their tastes and smells transport me back to all of those lovely moments growing up baking in the kitchen with my grandparents and my dad. 

One of my favorite pies is Pecan! I think its flavor suits the harvest and holiday season so well. Pecan pie is made with a butter-sugar-egg custard and it is said that the French invented the dessert soon after settling in New Orleans, being introduced to the pecan nut by the local Native American tribes. I'm not sure how accurate that story is but Native Americans did disperse these lovely nuts up and down the Mississippi River and used them long before Settlers ever stepped foot in America. 

When I was back in the States visiting family, I had some great Pecan Pie at this lovely little cafe in Boerne, TX. So upon returning home, I had to make some more! If you've never tried it or are interested in baking this yummy pie at home, try this recipe!** 

Not crazy about nuts? Try my other seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Pie. Be sure to top both with whipped cream!

**Since England is a no go on Corn Syrup, replace that ingredient with your lovely Golden Syrup. I find it the best substitute.


Time To Focus on Festive

The smell of Bonfire Night/Weekend was definitely still present in the air this morning; and although we're not enormous fans of fireworks (Lincoln gets pretty scared), the after aromas embody everything about autumn. Someone honestly needs to bottle that up and make a soy candle!  The smells, sights, and sounds of this season never get old. 

I am finally recovered from all the jet lag that came with two weeks of bouncing around the States. It was good to be home and visit with all my loved ones. Tailgating with my best friend for Penn State's victory over Michigan, seeing my sister and brother, and eating all the BBQ Austin has to offer were definitely the highlights! I am full up -- which means its time to get back into the swing of things here at Blonde & Bounder!

With Halloween and Bonfire night behind us, England's next hoorah is Christmas. So lets, get festive and try our best to focus on what the embodiment of the season represents -- gratitude, joy, understanding, love, and comfort. In the next few weeks, thats what we'll be focusing on. I'll also be sharing some ideas to keep waste to a minimum. Because in a season of parcels and wrapping paper, keeping that waste in check is important. 

Happy Monday folks! Wishing you all an excellent week!


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