Two Plus Dogs

Two Plus Dogs

Lifestyle and Dog Friendly Living

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Places to eat in  Cambridge: Amélie Review

Places to eat in Cambridge: Amélie Review

Trying new places to eat in Cambridge is our favourite pastime and we recently had the pleasure of Amélie in the (newly revamped) Grafton Centre Cambridge. Look out for the bright yellow vintage Citroën van opposite the VUE cinema. This independent, family run venture serves […]

Fish and Chips in St. Ives- Eric’s Review

Fish and Chips in St. Ives- Eric’s Review

The opening of Eric’s is excellent news for lovers of fish and chips in St Ives. It has become a tradition of ours to follow up a long beach walk in Norfolk with a trip to Eric’s at Thornham for their delicious fish and chips, […]

Best Dog Crates- Croft Soft Crate Review:

Best Dog Crates- Croft Soft Crate Review:

To crate or not to crate?

This is the question facing many dog owners. The need to crate came about for us when our dog became reactive in the car on short journeys. Long journeys and holidays were never a problem.

crates

Dogs and Stress:

Did you know that stress hormones stay in a dog’s body for many hours? We realised that this meant that, as we went out in the car daily, our dog was in a constant state of stress. Constantly pumped full of cortisol and adrenaline- how awful for him! Stress is harmful for dogs just as it is for humans -for more information about the effects of stress on a dog click here.  

best dog crates

The Benefits of a Crate:

Crating in the car has many benefits:

  • The dog feels safe and secure in their private den.
  • Crate use is one of the recommended travel methods. For more about car safety with dogs click here for PDSA Recommendations. Please note that most products of this type are not tested for collision safety. This is not a safety review.
  • You can ensure that they are not going to damage anything, most importantly themselves, when left unattended and limit the mess of dirty paws!

Finding the best dog crates:

Following a recommendation by our wonderful dog carers at JK Petcare (who uses soft crates for their customers who need a little space) we decided to try a Croft Soft Crate.

Croft soft crate

If your dog is a chewer or aggressive, this crate is made from fabric so may not be suitable for you. For dogs that are happy in a crate this is luxury! Made from metal tube structure, with fabric and mesh sides and a fleece floor, it comes in a choice of colours so looks great as well as being practical.

crate

Dimensions can be found on the website so you can order a crate of a comfortable size for your dog(s) and car. The crate has 3 openings (doors) and conveniently folds flat (into its carry bag)  for when it is not needed. It is sturdy and well-made. I can tell that we will be using it for many purposes for a many years.

Peaceful Car Journeys!

It is soft and comfortable, and vision can be restricted as you wish using the mesh windows and Velcro window panels.

car journeys with dogs

I can tell that the dogs feel calm and safe in here. They curl up together for a snooze when travelling rather than standing on guard at the window. They are noticeably calmer in everyday life too. We put this partly down to the car crating and their reduced stress hormones.  

Summer Travels:

For the summer months we have adapted the crate with a cool mat and plenty of gusts of air conditioning. They should stay calm, cool and comfortable on those short journeys. 

cool mat from Pointy Faces

Top-tip: Measure carefully! We initially ordered a crate too wide to fit the car and had to pay returns and delivery again- oops! 

For our other dog recommendations click here.

Summer Running Essentials for Women:

Summer Running Essentials for Women:

As the temperatures rise, it is time to consider those summer running essentials. The right kit can make a run more pleasurable and most importantly keep you safe and healthy.   Feet: Trainers- As with running in all conditions, getting a good pair of training shoes […]

One dog or two? Getting a Second Dog:

One dog or two? Getting a Second Dog:

Wondering whether to take the plunge of getting a second dog? I cannot promise you a definitive answer within this post as it is a decision packed full of personal variables. You will however, read the valuable and thought provoking opinions of many dog owners […]

Recipes for Meatless Days- Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagne:

Recipes for Meatless Days- Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagne:

This simple and delicious vegetarian lasagne recipe is a filling, crowd pleasing dish for a vegetarian option or those increasing their meatless days. Make in advance for a quick, pop in the oven dinner.

meatless days ingredients

You will need:

Serves 3 (greedy people) or 4 (smaller eaters)

  • 1 butternut squash, deseeded and cubed into 2cm cubes
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 600g mushrooms sliced
  • 1 mozzarella cheese ball (I use reduced fat)
  • 60g cheddar (I use reduced fat)
  • 20g parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to season

For the white sauce:

  • 1 litre of milk- I use semi skimmed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 30g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 50g feta cheese (I use reduced fat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • 1. In a preheated oven (180c/ gas mark 4), toss your squash cubes in a little rapeseed oil (or fry spray) and spread in a good sized baking tray. Add your garlic cloves and rosemary to the tray and roast until they are soft, or for about 30 minutes.
  • 2. Pan-fry your mushrooms (I used fry spray), for about 5-10 minutes, or until their liquid is released, seasoning with pepper as you fry.
  • 3. Now to make your white sauce. Firstly warm your milk in a pan with the bay leaf so that it infuses as it warms.
  • 4. In another medium-sized saucepan, on a low heat, melt your butter. Slowly add the flour to the melted butter, cooking for a minute or two. It will be thick and perhaps a little lumpy at this point- don’t worry!
  • 5. Add a tablespoon of the milk at a time. I use a whisk at this stage as I find it easier to combine the roux. Continue to add the milk until you have a smooth mix, then add the remaining milk (including the bay leaf). Do this very gradually, whisking gently as go.
  • 6. Leave the smooth sauce on a low heat, stirring regularly for a few minutes until it has thickened. When thickened, add the mustard, feta, and half of the cheddar. Season to taste.
  • 7. Now all of your elements have been prepared the building begins. Using a 23cm x 18cm (you can use a different size – just adjust your layers accordingly so they are nice and full of vegetables) ovenproof dish, begin by making a layer out of half of the mushrooms. Spread evenly on the bottom of your dish. Cover the mushrooms with a layer of the lasagne sheets.
  • 8. Next, using half of your roasted squash, spreading evenly over the pasta. Add a third of your sauce to this layer. Again, cover with another layer of lasagne sheets.
  • 9. The next layer will be the rest of the mushrooms and half of the mozzarella ball. Distribute evenly. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets.
  • 10.Continue with the remaining squash, another third of the sauce, then a final layer of lasagne sheets.

11.Complete the lasagne with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and cheddar spread across the top. Season with plenty of pepper.

12.Pop the lasagne in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden.

Serve with a fresh, crispy salad of your choice.

More recipes for Meatless days:

We hope that you enjoy this recipe. For more great recipes for meatless days click here.

Which Restaurant to Choose for a Special Occasion in Cambridge?

Which Restaurant to Choose for a Special Occasion in Cambridge?

With its ever expanding food scene, it is easier than ever to find a restaurant for a special occasion in Cambridge. Here are some of our favourites. Restaurant 22: Sam Carter took over Restaurant 22 a short time ago and is receiving (well deserved) rave […]

Where to Eat in Cambridge- Vanderlyle Review:

Where to Eat in Cambridge- Vanderlyle Review:

If you are wondering where to eat in Cambridge, look no further than Vanderlyle– a new inventive restaurant offering quality food. As a huge fan of ‘The Hole in the Wall’, I was extremely excited to hear about Alex Rushmer and Lawrence Butler’s latest venture […]

Handmade Dog Treats to Buy Online- A Review:

Handmade Dog Treats to Buy Online- A Review:

I like to know exactly what I am feeding my dogs so look for training treats with no additives, preservatives, or salt. These small businesses make handmade dog treats to buy online, using quality human grade ingredients which are tasty enough to distract and motivate our flighty whippets. Here are their favourites:

Pet Bakery:

Handmade dog treats online

Lovingly handcrafted dog treats by family run Pet Bakery, these guys offer funky flavours that include liver brownies, Sunday roast bones, and cheesy paws. Using human grade ingredients with no added nasties, these are reassuring good quality.

Handmade dog treats online

We tried them on our discerning friends at JK Petcare and they went down a storm! Easy to split in to smaller pieces for training and the dogs loved the taste of them. Practically, they were also nice and ‘non’ messy’ to carry in pockets. Handy, resealable pouches and very reasonably priced.

Marge and Mabel:

Chesterfield based Marge and Mabel (named after their beautiful Labradors) is a family business making homemade healthy treats using human grade ingredients with no added nasties. A wide range of great flavours, these bite size (for medium to large dogs) treats arrive in pretty packaging so are a lovely gift idea. Nice and tasty, without being sticky for owners pockets.

handmade dog treats online

They also offer therapeutic treats, for example gingerbread men for motion sickness and calming cookies. Birthday cakes and muffins available too. Well priced and a big hit with our whippets, who were particularity excited by the cheesy treats.

WowDog:

handmade dog treats online

Scotland based WowDog are a family run business (overseen by chief tester Buddy the Westie) lovingly making handmade quality dog treats from their home. Using high grade, natural ingredients (no nasties of course), these are great for sensitive tummies as they are free from wheat, lactose, soy, meat, salt and additives.

Flavours include peanut butter stars, honey oat bones and our favourites the beer bones which use spent grain from BrewDog’s Ellon brewery. Great to break up to suit the size of your dog, and resealable. Needless to say the whippets loved them! The practical human ‘pros’ are that they can be easily split into small training sized pieces, and are non messy for pockets.

Harley Bear’s Coco Bites:

Harley Bears natural dog treats

Harley Bear’s (named after a well loved staffie) offer a whole host of wonderful treats and pops in a wide range of flavours, forms and sizes. These are so sweet and pretty so a fabulous gift,- in fact you can even buy a personalised name treat for your dog here. More importantly than their good looks though, are the health benefits of coconut oil and the other organic, natural ingredients.

Harley bears pops

On this occasion we tried the pup pops which come in a variety of flavours, all of which the whippets loved! More of a ‘treat treat’ than a training treat, this oil based, flavoured pop comes on a pig skin lolly stick, so is entirely edible- what a great idea! I definitely see an improvement in the shininess of the hounds coat after using coconut oil, but this was much less messy (and much more fun) than grappling with jars of oil.

Handmade dog treats to buy online:

handmade dog treats online

Well, the whippets have had a ball tasting all these wonderful, quality treats. They were most definitely focused on us when we took them training with them and it was reassuring to know that what they were eating was of good quality.

Warning– watch your pockets! I had my pockets picked more than once during this testing. This is of course the flip-side of carrying delicious treats! We will definitely be buying more of these products online.

For more of our dog-friendly recommendations click here.

The above mentioned businesses invited us to review their homemade dog treats, but as ever, all opinions expressed are my own, and most importantly those of my discerning whippets.

Quality Dog Friendly Hotels in Norfolk

Quality Dog Friendly Hotels in Norfolk

Norfolk is crammed full of wonderful dog friendly places to eat, drink, visit and relax. Here are a collection of high quality, really dog friendly hotels in Norfolk to enjoy with your furry family. Titchwell Manor: Beautiful Victorian farmhouse, Titchwell Manor has chic rooms and […]