Christmas Cat Beds

Making these cat beds has proved to be much more of a challenge than I thought it would be but at the same time I have rediscovered a long lost passion in sewing that I haven’t even attempted since I was a teenager.

All those years ago I did a GCSE in textiles, which at the time I loved but never thought about again. This was mainly due to a lack of a sewing machine and partly because I really wasn’t great at it. I made a dress that would never fit a real person and it was made of material so thick that, even if you had managed to get it on, would have left you sweating and unable to sit down…

With this in mind I thought I would try the most straightforward cat bed I could find on Pinterest (which you can find here) and opted for one made from an old hoodie. All the materials I used were recycled; the stuffing was Woolcool that we had left over from food delivery boxes, the material was an old hoodie that was about to be slung and the padding in the bottom was made up of foam offcuts from an old mattress we got rid of a few weeks ago.

After making the one from a hoodie I got a bit cocky with my newly reborn sewing skills and opted for something a bit harder (you can find the inspiration for it on Pinterest here). This one was again made from the recycled Woolcool and had the mattress foam bottom but the fabric was taken from old Ikea curtains we used in the flat we moved out of recently and an old knitted dress that was also headed for the bin (we were getting rid of loads of clothes because of this move, I swear we might be closet hoarders T_T).

I was pretty pleased that I could use all of these materials we had in the house and save them from landfill so if you are looking for a frugal, crafty Christmas pressie for your fellow cat lovers then this might just be perfect for you.

 


 

MAKING THE HOODIE BED.

Starting out I took an old hoodie and cut the hood off then stitched the hole closed. I then drew a chalk line from armpit to armpit across the front and stitched along this line which created an unbroken U of material to stuff with the recycled wool.

Once the arms were full of wool I pulled one sleeve over the other and hand stitched them together. This made a big poofy doughnut that would be the sides of the bed.

I then got the length of foam cut from the old mattress and used the already stuffed circle as a template and cut an oval shape for the base (I did this twice to give an extra padded bottom for this bed).

The foam was then inserted in to the empty body of the hoodie and I hand stitched this shut against the bottom of the stuffed arms. Et Voila!

 


 

MAKING THE CURTAIN BED.

Starting out I cut a 100cm x 90cm rectangle from one of the old curtains and then cut the corners off as per the instructions from Pinterest (link above). I quickly realised that the dimensions of this pattern did not add up to 100cm x 90cm and should have in fact been 105cm x 90cm and in a fit of frustration decided to throw those instructions out the window and just make it up as I went along.

I folded the sides of the bed in half and stitched 2 of the 3 open sides together. I then stuffed these little tunnels with the Woolcool and sewed them shut.

I then stitched the short edges of these padded tunnels to one another and the frame of the bed was born.

Using this “frame” as a template, the foam was then cut to fit the bottom of the bed.

An old knitted dress was then used as a covering for the foam but I didn’t bother stitching this shut and just tucked it in to the edges of the bed. The idea behind this was so that the dress can be removed for cleaning which was lucky since I had to do this almost immediately. I wanted to give both of these beds to members of my family (between 3 households we have 5 cats between us!) but no sooner had I put them down my cat was on them and fast asleep!

Since I had to do this I thought I would pap some photos of her with our fleecy pet blanket wrapped around the foam and realised that this would have been an awesome alternative to the recycled clothes (and I think it looked better too – my cat certainly liked it).

 


 

THE END RESULTS.

I have to say since my cat jumped on these straight away they most certainly are cat approved! They might not be the most professional looking cat beds but they were definitely a hit when I gave them as gifts, along with the added bonus of saving a whole heap of materials going in the bin.

I might have created a monster though because now I’m going to have to try out some more for my own moggies Christmas presents!

 

Meaty Mince Pies!

I might be getting a little bit excited as Christmas draws nearer as this is, by far, my favourite time of the year! A long time ago I spent a few years going from northern hemisphere to southern hemisphere chasing the winter and the accompanying snow, as I worked and played in ski resorts around the world. This was a magical part of my life and it’s safe to say, as the nights get shorter, the woolly hats and gloves are unearthed from drawers and the smell of cinnamon grows stronger in the air, a part of my soul comes alive and I just can’t contain my excitement!

I now enjoy the winter in my home in North London in a completely different way. The days of waking up to metres of snow and the echoing booms of avalanche blasting are a distant memory but for all those years I largely missed out on all the Christmas cheer. It’s funny, you may well live in a winter wonderland but if the country you’re in think a traditional Christmas dinner is KFC (I kid you not! I loved Japan but this was not it’s finest moment) then you come to appreciate the comforts of home. For me those comforts could not be better represented at Christmas than by the almighty Mince Pie! These little beauties are synonymous with the festive period and it brought me so much joy to be able to share this with my doggy pals this year.

Much to my relief this meaty version (which now I think about it, are probably a waaaaaay more traditional version than our sweet kind) went down an absolute treat. They even looked so tasty that the humans around me wanted to try them too even after finding out that they were for dogs.

The recipe I went for was another one from the Lily’s Kitchen – Dinner for Dogs cookbook that I used for the last post on Oaty Biscuits. And as I said before, and will say again, do check them out – everything they do is ace!

 


MAKING THE MINCE PIES.

This recipe called for more than double the ingredients than the last post with a whopping total of 7 different ingredients!! However this recipe was not doubly hard and took all in all about 50 minutes to make, including 30 mins of baking time. I also changed the recipe slightly as it called for turkey mince but the dog I made them for is allergic to turkey, so I substituted it for beef mince. I don’t know if turkey would have packed down more but I was left with an awful lot of beef mince after filling my mince pies and so I would recommend the following ingredient measurements:

200g Beef Mince

3/4 tbsp. fresh parsley

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

200g plain flour

100ml oil

1 egg, beaten

50g grated cheddar

I started by making the meat filling. This was as simple as popping the mince, chopped parsley & ginger in to a bowl and stirring it all together.

Way too much meat mix

I then made the pastry by mixing the flour, oil, egg and cheese in a bowl until a dough was formed. This dough was then tipped on to a floured surface and rolled out.

Dough – ready to roll

Using a fluted cookie cutter I cut large rounds for the base and gently pushed them in to a bun tin. These were then filled with the meat mixture and topped with slightly smaller rounds of the dough. I also cut little hearts out of some of them because I’m extra like that… I did tell you I love Christmas time, what did you expect?!

Ready to go in the oven

These then went in the oven for 30 minutes and…… Ta Da!!


THE END RESULTS.

Well these came out beautifully despite my little heart cut outs looking significantly better before the bake. Much like the last recipe these were quite crumbly. They certainly made a mess on the kitchen floor when they were being eaten but, again like last time, these crumbs were hoovered up pretty quick.

Overall I think these were a huge success and the flaky pastry doesn’t bother me as they are more of an indulgent dessert for dogs as opposed to a training tool. My favourite part of the whole thing was sitting down with a coffee and mince pie at the end of the day and this moment being made 10 times as special because I could share it with my doggy friends. Christmas time is great and all but dogs really make everything extra special!


*Just so you know – I am in no way sponsored or affiliated with any of the products or companies written about in my blog. (outside of Barnet Dog Walking because that’s me! ^_^) My posts are purely my own opinions and experiences. 

Cheese & Oatmeal Dog Biscuits

 

For my first attempt at cooking for Lily (the beautiful Border Collie on the banner) I thought I would try something fairly simple. The recipe I chose was a straightforward, 3 ingredient biscuit.

First of all I should admit that I have a slight obsession with cookbooks. How people aren’t obsessed by these gorgeously glossy books filled with mouth-watering recipes that are rarely, if ever actually cooked from, I don’t know. However, this year I moved house and my partner convinced (*cough*…forced…) me to rid our bookshelves of some of these cookbooks. That said I still have 20+ in our kitchen and can now say I am also the proud owner of Lily’s Kitchen – Dinner for Dogs, much to my partners dismay.

I already give Lily’s Kitchen treats to both cats and dogs that I look after and so knew that whatever I cooked was likely to go down well. This year I even gave their advent calendar as presents to Lily and Zag which you can see more of here. I can’t recommend their food highly enough as I have been able to cater confidently and easily to pets with allergies and even got a food adverse dog to start wolfing down her meals. So, if you get a chance do check out what they have on offer.

 


Making the biscuits.

The 3 ingredients for these biscuits were Oatmeal, Goose Fat & Cheese mixed together (I used medium milled oatmeal as it was all I could find in the shops but if you can get your hands on fine milled oatmeal I think this would massively improve the results) with a couple of spoons of boiling water to loosen the fat.

Mixing bowl with oats, fat and water – minus the cheese

I then tipped this mixture out on to a chopping board and padded it flat with my hands. I did try to roll out the “dough” but it was far too crumbly (because of the medium oatmeal) and so I gave up on that pretty quickly and just used my hands. I think this also helped bind the ingredients as the heat from my hands probably melted the fat and cheese together a bit more as well.

“Dough” padded down and ready to cut

I then got a little doggy cookie cutter and popped the biscuits on to a baking tray, banged them in the oven for 20 minutes and that was it, they were done!

Cookie cut-outs
The finished biscuit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The end results.

I have since used these biscuits as rewards during clicker training with Lily but they were VERY crumbly and went everywhere, which kind of distracted her from the training in general. She would take a bit of biscuit, crumbs would then end up all over the floor and she would spend the next 5 minutes licking the entirety of the kitchen floor… *sigh* I have since decided it’s probably better to use them out and about where the mess isn’t so important.

Overall I do think these were a success as Lily does love them and is on her best behaviour whenever they are cracked out so I might give them a go again if I can get my hands on some fine oatmeal and update on the results.

Since Christmas is on the horizon the next recipe I’m going to try from this book is for Mince Pies (I will also be trying my hand at ones for humans too!) The recipe in the book calls for Turkey mince, as obviously doggies can’t have the fruity kind people enjoy, but unfortunately Lily is allergic to Turkey so I will be cobbling together a bit of an alternative recipe inspired by the one in the book. Fingers crossed they go down as well as the biscuits did!


 *Just so you know – I am in no way sponsored or affiliated with any of the products or companies written about in my blog. (outside of Barnet Dog Walking because that’s me! ^_^) My posts are purely my own opinions and experiences.

There’s never a better day to start than today!

This is what I have been telling myself through every step of starting Barnet Dog Walking (including venturing in to this unfamiliar territory.) But this scary step in to the blogging universe is to show how I spend time with the dogs and cats I look after and how I build the bonds between us. This, I hope, is something that might inspire you to do something similar or find solace in the fact that somebody else is trying out those weirdy things that we animal lovers find hard to resist.

As Christmas is fast approaching I will be looking at how to make dog treats, pet furniture, toys and reviewing all the goodies you could think of for spoiling your pooch at this time of year. (You can also check some more of this out on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) Inevitably these things don’t always go smoothly no matter how good your Instagram filtering skills; biscuits crumble in to dust, dog beds you thought would be good for a Border Collie are just big enough for the teensy tiniest Chihuahua, food lovingly laboured over for hours in the kitchen gets a turned up nose and a sly little sulk off (the dog I swear, not me….) However, I hope that you find something that will inspire you and that you can enjoy together with your pets.

Throughout the year I will also be going over different training techniques, games, lead skills and various sports that I do with the animals in my care to exercise them both physically and mentally. We all know what a bored dog is capable of and sometimes a simple game for a few minutes every day, a tailor made toy/puzzle or incorporating them in to your New Year’s resolution to exercise more can help alleviate that boredom and bring you closer together to boot.

Let me be clear though, I am in no way a qualified animal behaviourist or trainer but I do like to try things out that these people recommend and am a big advocate for positive reinforcement training. I believe this is what helps nurture the relationships we enjoy with our furry friends. All I hope is that I can bring some attention to different elements of training that I find interesting and showcase a different repertoire than you might already be doing at home.

Ultimately just giving a bit more time and attention to our pets is the goal however you choose to do it! (This is why I do a solo service for dog walking so that the time that they get to spend out in the day is really all about them and them alone.) So let’s all start improving those relationships today and show our fur babies just how important they are to us!


 *Just so you know – I am in no way sponsored or affiliated with any of the products or companies written about in my blog. (outside of Barnet Dog Walking because that’s me! ^_^) My posts are purely my own opinions and experiences.