Saturday, 27 June 2015

Jurassic World Books from Centum

On its opening day, Ian and I went on a daytime date to the cinema, while the kids were at school and oblivious to what we were up to, to watch Jurassic World in amazing D-Box 3D. With the moving chairs, rumbling and shifting in synchronisation to the action, I felt like I was in the heart of the movie surrounded by those incredible Velociraptors and the rest of the prehistoric reptilian cast. Though of course, having the utterly gorgeous Chris Pratt in larger than life 3D was what really sold the film for me. Seriously, he could be my alpha male any day!

Not surprisingly, Jurassic World has broken box office records and has incredibly paid for itself in the first weekend of opening. Clearly we can not get enough of this amazing dinosaur franchise (nor the adorable Chris Pratt!) Adults and children alike are mesmerised by the idea of dinosaurs, and the thought of a theme park like Jurassic World would make lots of childhood dreams come true. Sadly, although Ian told me that he heard on the radio that scientists have worked out the theory for creating a dinosaur embryo from a bird's egg by switching on and off the genes for specific traits, the ethical implications mean that we probably won't be buying our tickets for a real live Jurassic World anytime soon.

However, there is plenty of great merchandise available to keep us all happily entertained while we wait for the rebirth of the dinosaur.

Freddy was sent some great Jurassic World Books from Centum.

Jurassic World - The Dino Experience Activity Book 

With over 50 pages of puzzles, games, colouring, doodling and stickering, this book is great fun for junior dino-fans. Kids can find out all about dinosaurs with some fascinating facts and colour illustrations and will be kept occupied for hours filling in the pages.

The book is set out as if it is a souvenir from Jurassic World itself, complete with a resort map. It makes this activity book a bit different as kids can imagine they are experiencing a week at the theme park as they complete each page. The book contains over 190 stickers to use in the book. There is also a push out 3D model of a T-Rex tail to make. (You can complete the model T-Rex using the model parts from four books in the series).

This is a great book for a rainy day or to entertain children during the long summer holidays.

Jurassic World, Centum

Jurassic World - The Ultimate Quiz Book 

There are forty challenging quizzes in this book, which challenge older kids' dinosaur expertise to the max. It tests kids on whether they could fend off a T-Rex attack? Asks if they can identify fossils? And checks if they know their dinosaurs?  All this and more is tested within the pages of this exciting quiz book.

There are species quizzes to test knowledge of each different dinosaur along with general knowledge tests, questions on the prehistoric eras, the animals' lives and their extinction plus questions about the film itself. The quizzes are nicely presented with illustrations throughout. As an added bonus there is also a push out 3D model of a T-Rex head to make.

Jurassic World, Centum

Other titles in the series include a Poster Book, Mega Sticker Book, a junior novel and a paperback picture book, which features high quality movie stills from the film.

Find the books in supermarkets, toy shops, gift shops, garden centres and other major retailers.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

What About Breakfast at Greggs?

According to a recent survey, The 2015 Greggs Breakfast Report, the perfect breakfast is a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee at 7.40am. However, not everybody follows such a morning routine and breakfast is rapidly becoming one of the most versatile and adaptable of meals.

Only half of the 5000 Brits surveyed admitted to eating breakfast at home in the morning with 39% saying they just didn't have time for it. When it comes to professionals, 15% say they eat breakfast at their desk, with a third of them using the time to multitask and check their emails. 1 in 7 people simply have a cup of coffee in the morning and two thirds admit they couldn't function without their caffeine fix. 22% buy a cup of takeaway coffee on the go each day with young professionals consuming an average of 130 shop bought cups of takeaway coffee a year.

The way that we are enjoying breakfast is definitely changing. We are finding new ways to fit our morning meal in around our busy lives, making the time we have work for us in the most efficient way.

Greggs have a breakfast range available for people who eat on the go, which includes omelette baguettes and rolls, porridge, pain au chocolat, muffins and fruit and oatie cookies. They also have fresh coffee and bottled fairtrade orange juice.  I was sent a voucher to try out breakfast Greggs style.


The new Fruit and Oatie Cookie is a delicious oat biscuit with sultanas and raisins with a gently spiced flavour. With a soft, crumbly texture, it goes perfectly with a coffee for a quick breakfast on the go.

The creamy pots of porridge come in original, golden syrup and new red berry flavours. You just need to add water to make a pot of hot porridge. It is a good option for anyone grabbing something to eat at their desk at work, looking for something hot and satisfying.

The pastries at Greggs are perfect to pick up for an indulgent grab and go morning treat. The pain au chocolat are soft, light and buttery for an indulgent breakfast.

The omelette breakfast roll and baguette are made using Good Egg Awarded Free Range and Cage Free eggs served in a crusty baguette or a soft roll with a choice of sauces. It is nice to see vegetarian options on the menu at Greggs (we don't all crave bacon butties you know!!)

My mornings always start with a coffee. Greggs sell their own coffee blend of slow roasted mild Arabica and rich Robusta beans, which is 100% fairtrade. So however you have it, from black to latte, you can get your morning cuppa to start your day.

Not only is Greggs range very impressive, it is also really reasonable ...much cheaper than the big name high street coffee shops. If you are someone who buys a coffee and a breakfast snack on the way to work or after the school run you could save £££'s over the course of the week!

Breakfast is served until 11am Monday to Sunday, so you can even enjoy a leisurely weekend breakfast. See the whole range online at or pop into your local Greggs.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Interplay Wire Craft Rings Review

Here Inside the Wendy House, we are big fans of the Interplay brand, which encourages creativity in children through their exciting and innovative activity kits.

The latest one we received to review was the My Style Craft Design & Make Wire Craft Rings set, containing instructions and materials to create eight fashion rings. My daughter Kezia and her best friend Georgia are my enthusiastic testers when it comes to anything crafty like this, so I put them to work independently to create some fun, fashionable jewellery. At 12 they are well over the recommended 8+ that this kit is aimed at.

jewellery, craft kit

The set included three lengths of jewellery wire in varying thicknesses - two silver, one purple, a pink handled pair of pliers, a ring forming tool and a bag of assorted beads, as well as a fully illustrated step by step instruction manual. All you need in addition to the contents is a pair of scissors or wire cutters to cut the wire and a ruler to measure lengths.


The instructions really are very comprehensive and clear, but unfortunately the procedures were just too complicated for the girls to manage. They struggled to work out how to make even the easiest ring design look like a piece of jewellery and not just a twisted length of wire. So I stepped in to assist and have to admit that I found myself wishing I was an experienced and highly skilled jewellery maker and not just a slightly cack-handed mum, because I really wanted to impress the girls! Alas this was not to be.

interplay, wire ring making

Mastering the spiral and loop making using the pliers was very fiddly and we were just not very good at it. Try as we might we could not turn a length of wire into the elaborately twisted, bejewelled, knotted, twirled and intricately designed rings illustrated in the manual.  I'm sure that someone with more dexterity and jewellery making flair could create something beautiful from the lengths of wire and beads - but sadly on this occasion we weren't up for the job.


Although this review is not as positive as other Interplay sets we have tested, that is not to say that the kit itself was in any way substandard. The wire is good quality and the tools are reusable, so can be used not just for this activity but for any other future jewellery making crafts. They will be a great addition to a craft box. The instructions are well described with step by step detail and clear illustrations. Our problem was our inability to translate them into the skills required to create something that looked like the expected end result. The rings we made were just not really something you'd want to wear.

For anyone with a real artistic flair and with good dexterity when working with intricate detail, this would be a great starter set for jewellery making, teaching skills and knowledge for the design and creation of bespoke pieces.

To balance out our issues with our lack of skills, I have looked at reviews for this kit on Amazon and some are very positive. Here is one:

"The instructions are great and we really felt like we were learning how to be professional jewellery makers. Hours and hours of play from just one box." 

And this is a stock image of what you could make with a bit of skill using the kit.


At £7.99 this is a great price for a set that can make eight rings. You can find it online at:

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Brantano - shoe shopping with expert fitting

When it comes to their feet, it is really important to make sure that children wear comfortable, well fitting shoes. Little feet need room to grow in order to promote healthy development. Children's feet can have growth spurts, which can be hard to predict so regular measuring to check their foot sizing is really important. Ill fitting footwear can cause the child discomfort in the short term and may lead to foot problems or deformities in their adult lives.

Today, we took Freddy to Brantano in Telford so he could try out their free expert fitting service and get a brand new pair of shoes for school in order to review the experience and service.  


Brantano have conveniently situated out of town branches in retail parks, where the shoes are displayed on the shelves in pairs allowing shoppers the freedom to select them and try them on immediately at their leisure. No waiting for assistants to find the ones you need. Shoes are arranged in sizes making it easy to see exactly what is available in your or your child's size.

Brantano stock top brands such as Startrite, Clarks and Hush Puppies. as well as Skittles, US Brass and Blox. They have an extensive range to suit all budgets and tastes, with many styles on sale.

shoes, back to school

Firstly, Freddy had his feet measured by a trained member of staff using a specially designed foot gauge to measure the length, width and depth of his feet. Staff are trained to be expert fitters for all shoes across the brands, and the lady who saw to Freddy was very friendly and made him feel at ease. As a mum, knowing I am getting Freddy shoes in the correct size is really reassuring as his foot health is very important to me (having lived with a bunion myself, I know the damage that ill fitting shoes can do!)

Brantano, shoes

We were given a kids' fitting guide, a Back to School brochure, an "I'm a Brantano Kid" sticker, a certificate to tell us his foot size and a reminder card to remind us to get his feet remeasured for free in three months time (with no obligation to buy shoes if his foot size hasn't changed). I thought this was a really nice touch.

Armed with the knowledge that he was an 11F with an average depth, we were shown to the relevant shelf where we were free to browse the pairs of boys' shoes in his size. As he doesn't have a wide foot or anything out of the ordinary with his sizing, we had the pick of most styles available.


Freddy had his eye on all the funky trainers from Adidas, Nike and Skechers as well as character pairs featuring Skylanders, Angry Birds, TMNT and Minions. Unfortunately for him, they aren't really suitable for school uniform so we headed to the more appropriate footwear on the shelves!

shoes, trainers

Freddy then moved his attention to the boys' school shoe range. There were dozens of pairs in a range of brands, materials and styles, all in his size. It was so convenient to try on pair after pair without having to rely on asking a member of staff to fetch them from the stock room. Having both shoes available allowed us to see exactly how they looked as a pair and how they felt to walk in. This gave us the opportunity to try as many pairs as we needed to find Freddy's perfect shoe.

Bonus features such as scuff resistant uppers, one touch fastening, anti-microbial treatments, easy clean outers and flexisoles mean you can find a shoe that can keep up with the demands of even the most demanding schoolboy.

Freddy tried on lots of pairs and eventually chose a pair of velcro fastening, black leather school shoes from Buckle My Shoe, which cost £32. As soon as we had settled on the pair that Freddy liked, the lady who had measured his feet came to check the fitting, feeling for his toes and checking around the shoe for the width fitting.


The final check was the walk as he strutted his stuff with the Brantano aisle as his catwalk. We were assured that his shoes were indeed a good fit and he looked really smart in his comfy new footwear.

Brantano, school shoes

The Brantano experience suited us really well. We really appreciated the staffs' help when we needed assistance with the measuring and the checking of the shoes that we chose for Freddy. But we also liked being free to work our way through the pairs on the shelf in our own time without having to ask for a particular size or waiting for someone to fetch a matching shoe. This makes Brantano a more streamlined and fun shoe shopping experience that suited my family perfectly.

Freddy is going to look so smart with his new school shoes on Monday. I've put the reminder card on my fridge to jog my memory to take him back in September for another fitting to make sure that he always has shoes that fit his growing feet.


You can find out more about Brantano and view the great range of school shoes available to suit all budgets and tastes at

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity”.

Happy Father's Day to my Children's Daddy

Once upon a time I was a single parent with a 3 year old son and a new baby girl. Although being a 22 year old with two kids wasn't easy, being a mum defined me, giving me something to live for and to strive for. I didn't need any one else aside from my son and my daughter. With two terrible failed relationships behind me, the part of me that could love or trust again was more than a little broken. I focused all my effort and energy into doing the best for my children. Building a life for us and protecting them from the hurt I had endured.

I could never have known that I would be sharing my life with someone again so soon. That within a year someone would take my wounded heart and fix it. Someone who would teach me how to live and how to love.

You came along. My best friend for so many years. Offering me the unconditional support and friendship that had been missing from my previous relationships. Opening my eyes to how it felt to be respected, cherished and  loved. It was inevitable that our friendship would become something more and I knew that you were an honest, decent, trustworthy man with a good heart - a man that I could let into my children's lives.

So you became the father figure that they had never had. A man that they could love and trust, who would never let them down. Who would put their needs first. Who would love their mum and never hurt her.

Over the next few years we saw the arrival of a daughter. We got married and welcomed another little girl and a son into our family. We built a home and saw our love grow deeper and deeper, as we shared our lives together.

Today is Father's Day.

On this day I need to let you know just how amazing a man you are. What you have given me can never be quantified. Because you have given me myself. You made me whole and gave me the chance to be the best person I could ever be, But more than that, you gave my children the very best dad that they could ever wish for. Literally.

I have never known a dad like you. Nothing is too much trouble for you when it comes to your family. The things you have done for all five of our children goes so far beyond the call of duty. You are selfless. You are kind, fair, respectful and supportive. You love unconditionally, with all of your heart. You have fun with them, enjoying their company and time spent together. You give them the tools to be better people and let them see how a real man behaves. They are so lucky to have you.

If I could have known what life my two eldest children would enjoy thanks to me being with you, that scared 22 year old girl that I was, would have never wasted a tear , felt any regret or sorrow or feared for our futures. Everything bad that I had endured up to that point in my life was worth my suffering. Because my journey led me to you. Has led me to where we are now, with five miraculous children and a wonderful life together.

Thank you for allowing me to give my children a dad like you. It has been the very best gift I could ever have given to them. The best gift for a mother to give to her children. A role model, a hero, a shoulder to cry on and someone to trust. A strong pair of arms to hold them and the knowledge that they will always have someone who puts their needs above their own.

I only have to look at my incredible, successful, confident and loving older kids to know that your parenting has influenced their lives in such a positive way. You gave them a love that transcended biology, allowing them to rewrite the futures they may have otherwise had. Our three younger children are just as wonderful, knowing nothing but the unconditional love of two parents who are very much in love with each other. The five of them are as close as siblings can be and fill us with such pride and joy everyday.

We did this together Ian, but I am forever grateful to you. You gave me the chance to live this life and to give our children all the things that they need to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. That is a true blessing.

family, fatherhood

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Vegan Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse Recipe

My dairy free chocolate mousse recipe was always a firm family favourite here Inside the Wendy House. But now, I have tweaked the recipe further to make a fully vegan and cruelty free chocolate mousse, using whipped up Aquafaba.

Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas or beans.  The stuff we usually pour down the sink! I use the aquafaba liquid from a strained can of chickpeas in water as the base for my mousse. When whisked with an electric whisk, the Aquafaba froths up to form a white, peaked, meringue-like mixture. The resulting mousse is less dense and lighter than when made with eggs, with a deliciously bubbly texture.

vegan, recipe, aquafaba

Vegan Chocolate Mousse 

Ingredients (makes four small ramekin dish portions)

Aquafaba from one can of drained chickpeas in water
100g of  vegan dark chocolate (I used Beech's 55% dark chocolate)
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (to sweeten if required)


Melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium power. Use short bursts until thoroughly melted.
Allow to cool a little.
Whisk the aquafaba until thick meringue-like peaks form.
Add whisked aquafaba into the melted chocolate and fold with a metal spoon.
Fold in maple syrup.
Pour into bowls and put in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.
Serve with a rosette of soya cream on top and decorate with a strawberry.

Friday, 19 June 2015

My Top Five Favourite TV Dads

Currys are currently running a Father's Day competition for bloggers to write about their top five favourite TV dads. My girls, Kezia, aged 13 and Ella aged 19, really got excited by the prospect of this competition. So rather than just helping me to think of our top five TV dads, they decided to recreate our favourites using their own ever accommodating dad as their model. We spent a fun few hours using hair, make-up, a razor and props to transform Ian into the following five fabulous small screen fathers!

Walter White

OK. So on first impressions a murdering meth cook may not have the best credentials for being father of the year. But bear with me while I put the case forward for Walter White. On being diagnosed with lung cancer, this mild mannered chemistry teacher set aside his law abiding morality in order to provide for his family. He saw an opportunity and he took it, becoming a pivotal part of the cutthroat drug trade in the process. He loves Walter Jr and Holly and worked out exactly what it would cost to raise them to adulthood and made strides to raise that amount in as quick a time as possible.Walt was not driven by greed, he was driven by his desire to provide for his kids, without leaving them with the burden of his medical bills and with no father to provide for their future. His reasoning was actually pretty selfless and his motives were based on his paternal desire to protect his family. He risked his life, his safety and his very soul, believing that the ends would justify the means. Of course, by choosing a path though the dark underbelly of criminality, and leaving a trail of death, drug addiction and destruction in his wake, Walter's initial altruistic intentions became seriously corrupted the deeper he immersed himself into this dark world. However, we should not forget that initially, in his naive eyes, everything was justified because he simply wanted and needed to provide for his children after his death. Good dad? Yes - I'll give him that - even if he is more than a little misguided, criminally minded and utterly deceitful!!

walter white, breaking bad

Phil Dunphy

I LOVE Phil Dunphy the slightly hapless but utterly adorable dad from Modern Family. Father to Haley, Alex and Luke, he sees himself as the 'cool dad' who is always looking for new ways to bond with the kids, being a friend as well as a father. Things don't always go Phil's way, but he somehow always manages to come out of things with the love of his family intact. The warmth and love that Phil Dunphy has for children is just so heart warming. He doesn't always get it right, but his intentions are always pure. His somewhat off the wall attitude to problems sometimes initiates a chain of events that leads to him finding himself in some kind of big trouble, but he always manages to get things back on track with his trademark smile and goofy charm. Everyone should have a Phil Dunphy in their lives, to brighten up even the dullest day.

modern family

Ron Swanson

The grumpy department head of Parks and Recreation may appear rather crusty on the outside, until that is, he meets his future wife and her two little girls while fixing a pot hole in Pawnee. Becoming step dad to two daughters brings out Ron's softer side allowing him to become a wonderfully indulgent daddy - even allowing himself to be dressed as a princess to please his girls. Having a son, baby John, completes the family and the evolution of Ron Swanson. Fatherhood changes him and makes him a better man who genuinely cares for others. The once unapproachable man becomes everyone's father figure as he embraces his new softer outlook and allows his heart, newly filled with love, to define him. Ron Swanson lets us believe that people can change for the better and that fatherhood is often the motivation for that change. A man who is a good daddy is the most attractive and most wonderful of all men.

parks and rec

Fred Flinstone

Yabba Dabba Doo!  Fred Flintstone may be a slightly reckless individual who often shirks responsibility in favour of a game of bowling or a night out with his best buddy Barney, but his main motivation is to try and improve his family's lot in life. He works hard and plays hard, but his love for his family is at the heart of what he does. Fred Flintstone is a flawed man with multiple issues (gambling, drinking, idleness and short temperedness) but put Pebbles, his baby daughter, in his arms and he turns to putty! She softens his temper and makes him want to be a better man for her. Even a Neanderthal like Fred Flintsone can be a great dad.

Flinstones, fancy dress

Ned Stark

Eddard Stark is the head of House Stark, Hand of the King and Lord of the North. He is a dedicated husband and father, a loyal friend and a man of real honour. He is father to Rickon, Bran, Aria, Sansa and Robb. He also has an illegitimate son Jon Snow (RIP Jon - it's still raw!) and is guardian and father figure to Theon Greyjoy. He treats all the children with utmost respect and without discrimination.
Ned is truly the most honourable and honest man ever and he raises his children with sheer integrity, taking full responsibilty for his actions. He teaches his children how to be just as honourable as he is preparing them for their harsh life in Winterfell. He is fiercely protective but loving (especially to his little ones). It is such a shame that his head ended up detached from his body (damn that Joffrey - I still can't believe that it actually happened!) Ned was definitely the most honourable and the best father in the whole of Westeros (just compare him to the likes of Tyrell Lannister and Stannis Baratheon to see what an utterly amazing dad he was!)

Game of Thrones

These top TV dads are all fabulous characters who fulfil their roles of being a father in very different ways. Through the medium of television, we get to explore and experience fatherhood in all its glory, with love, with humour, with honour or with a desire to provide. We enjoy watching men whose hearts are melted by fatherhood and men who resort to extreme measures for their children. We love seeing men become the best versions of themselves after the arrival of a baby in their life.

But with all the different types of dad in the world, my girls 100% agree that the very best type of dad for them is their dad! (After all, he allowed them to dress him up as Ned, Phil, Walter, Fred and Ron simply for their entertainment!)

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads out there! x

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Father's Day at Aldi and What Fred Said about his Dad!

This Father's Day, Aldi is a one stop shop for buying what you need to make a special day for your dad. From buying ingredients to cook dad's favourite food to buying gifts that he will love. Here are some ideas for what to buy him this Father's Day.

aldi, drinks

Aldi stock a great range of alcoholic drinks in store including ales, beers, lager, cider, spirits and wines, which represent excellent value. Whatever your dad's favourite tipple, you will find a selection of drinks, many of which are award winners.  Ian would love the gold medal winning Highland Black 8 year old Scotch Whisky, which is just £12.99 for a 70cl bottle. Or perhaps a selection of the bottled beers and ales, which start at just 90p a bottle.


Aldi are passionate about producing top quality chocolate made from the finest ingredients. The Moser Roth range has a selection of bars of chocolate, truffles and chocolate assortments. This includes a range of award-winning 125g bars - each bar combining the finest smooth dark chocolate with an intriguing flavour. Choose from Mint, Chilli or Orange and Almond at £1.19 each.

Aldi's Specialbuys this week include some ideal gifts that would make excellent Father's Day gifts to suit a range of budgets:

Specialbuys available from 18th June


Fire Pit £19.99

The easy way to enjoy crackling flames outdoors.  This firepit is made using robust black powder-coated steel with folding legs for easy storage. It includes a mesh cover, log grate and tool. A lovely addition to the garden on summer evenings.


810W Hammer Drill  £14.99

Ideal for drilling wood, metal, plastic and concrete, this hammer drill is good for DIY loving dads.
It includes adjustable side handle and depth stop.


Fruit and Vegetable Plants £2.99 each

Growing your own is easy with these established plants in big 4 litre pots. Choose from 8 varieties. Any dad who enjoys gardening will love to nurture these plants and harvest their crops.


Just for fun,  Aldi have come up with a list of questions for kids to answer about their dads. I asked 6 year old Freddy the following questions about his dad!

What Fred Said about his Dad for Father's Day:

1.       What makes your dad happy?

I do!

2.       What is the funniest thing about your dad?

He tells jokes.

3.       What is something your dad always says to you?

I love you.

4.       What is your dad really good at?

Looking after me.

5.       What does your dad do as a job?

He pays for things. (?? He is actually a data centre engineer!)

6.       What is your dad’s worst habit?

Going to work because I don't like being without you.

7.       What is your dad’s favourite tea?


8.       What would you like to say to your dad?

I love you.

9.       What are you going to do with your dad on Father’s day?

I can't say because it's a surprise!

10.     Why are you proud of your dad?

I don't know but I am.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas - Roberts Bakery, Wilkinson Sword and Beech's Fine Chocolates

If you are yet to buy a present for your dad this Father's Day don't panic! Here are some ideas for some last minute gifts that won't cost too much, but will be gratefully received.

Breakfast in Bed

Why not show him how much you care and treat dad to breakfast in bed for Father's Day? Perhaps you could make him a voucher (or print out the one below) and present dad with it so he can redeem it whenever he fancies an indulgent lie in with his choice of breakfast served to him in bed.

gift, Father's Day

For Ian's Father Day Breakfast, we'll be making him a Quorn Bacon Butty using Roberts Bakery Soft and Fluffy Thick White Bread and tomato sauce. Served with a mug of black coffee, this is the perfect brekkie for dad!

Keep an eye on the Roberts Bakery Facebook page for their ultimate Father's Day Bacon Butty Guide!

vegetarian, Father's Day, breakfast

Wilkinson Sword

Practical gifts can be much appreciated, which is why toiletries are always a good idea for dad. You can buy them in supermarkets so can be picked up easily wherever you are. They are a great idea for the dad who has everything.

Wilkinson Sword's Hydro 5 razor gives dad a revolutionary shave care system with its five ultra glide blades, hydrating gel reservoir and flip trimmer. It gives a high performance shave with the benefit of added skin care.

How about the new Wilkinson Sword travel kit, which includes a Hydro 5 Razor, travel cap and mini can of Protect shaving foam? It's a great idea with the summer holidays and festival season approaching. This kit is a Tesco exclusive, but Hydro 5 can be found nationwide. Wilkinson Sword products are currently included in an up to half price special offer with the Hydro 5 Groomer at £7.49 and the Razor at £4.19. Pair them with dad's favourite aftershave for a brilliant gift idea.

shaving, Hydro 5, skincare

Find out the latest new on the Wilkinson Sword Men UK Facebook page.

Beech's Chocolate

If your dad has a sweet tooth or is a bit of a chocoholic, then you can treat him to some quality chocolates. Both Ian and my dad enjoy darker, richer blends of chocolate, savouring a few squares a night.

Beech's Fine Chocolates have a range of delicious, top quality 60g bars that are perfect for Father's Day. They are grown up chocolates for the more discerning palate with their range of interesting varieties.

The range includes:

White Chocolate
Milk Chocolate
Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate with Natural Ginger
Dark Chocolate with Lime and Chilli
Milk Chocolate with Anglesey Sea Salt


The Dark Chocolate with Natural Ginger is 55% cocoa solids. It is smooth and dark with a subtle hit of gingery warmth. It is delicious.  The 55% Dark Chocolate with Lime and Chilli is a really inventive flavour, with a citrus tang and a hit of heat. Ian really liked this's a proper manly flavour! The chocolates are delicious on their own or would be excellent ingredinets in a recipe. (Watch this space for a recipe in the near future using a sample of Beech's Fine Chocolates that I was sent to try!)

Beech's have been making fine British chocolates since 1920 using the finest, natural ingredients. The packaging is really attractive, bearing the Beech's crest. The dark chocolate varieties are suitable for vegans, while the rest are vegetarian friendly. Beech's have an extensive and impressive range of vegan friendly chocolate creams, chocolate Brazils and chocolate thins

Beech's currently have a competition online where you can win a holiday or a hamper of chocolate simply by signing up to their newsletter. Just by entering you receive a 10% discount code to use against your first order.

The bars are £1.50 EACH or 3 for £4.00 or 12 for £12.00 with FREE DELIVERY on orders over £12.00.

Visit Beech's Fine Chocolates for more information.

We received these samples for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

What we're watching on Netflix #NetflixStreamTeam

We're in our first month of having Netflix and it is not an exaggeration to say that it has totally revolutionised the way we watch our TV. Having a whole library of box sets and films ready to view 24/7 means we are never at a loss of what to watch. There is so much choice and each of us has our own profile where we can set up lists and get recommendations of what to watch based on our viewing history.

Here are some Netflix recommendations of things we are enjoying this month, one for the grown-ups and one for the kids:

Once Upon A Time

My girls and I are absolutely loving this series - so much so we are already up to season 3! The story revolves around the fairytale characters of the Enchanted Forest who have been transported to the 21st century because of a curse meted out by the Evil Queen Regina. The characters have no memory of their past lives and are destined to live the same day over and over again until Emma Swann arrives in their little town of Storybrooke.


The episodes tell the story of their present day adventures and struggles alongside flashback episodes which serve to develop the plot and the characters. It is brilliantly dark, with some fabulous twists on the traditional fairy tales we know and love.

Our favourite character is the wonderfully enigmatic Rumplestiltskin aka The Dark One played by Robert Carlisle. He is brilliant as the cowardly, simple man turned darkly magical villain. His storyline is one of the most compelling, combining his strong love for his son with his fear of being powerless. This dilemma leads to some powerful story telling.

There is a huge cast featuring some well known faces. We are forever checking out IMDB to find out what other things the actors have been in.


This cartoon from Korea has utterly captured Freddy's imagination and is his recommendation for the top Netflix TV show for kids. It features Red and Yellow, a pair of larvae who live together alongside a handful of other creepy crawlies. Each episode features four 2 minute short cartoons starring the greedy, food obsessed pair. Yellow is a bit slow and foolish and often receives abuse from his smaller, more impetuous friend Red in their quest for full bellies. Their relationship may be competitive and contentious, but when it comes to the crunch they are best friends.

They eat or play with things they find that fall through the grate of their underground home and search for food in the house, which they sometimes spend time in.  They also try to avoid their adversary the hungry frog and stay one step ahead of Black the stag beetle and Brown the dung beetle. There is no dialogue but the two limbless creatures manage to convey a full range of emotions through their own brand of visual slapstick humour using their facial expressions and tongues!

Netflix, kids tv

Larva is truly weird but strangely compelling to watch!  It is full of visual gross out humour involving snot, poo, burps and farts - this is obviously something that Freddy finds hilarious. There is also a lot of slapstick violence with bugs pummeling each other and fighting over food. But there is also a message of the importance of friendship that sometimes provides some heartwarming moments for the grubs.


New on Netrflix this month is the third season of Orange is the New Black, brand new drama Sense8, season 6 of Pretty Little Liars and horror film Insidious. On June 26th a new original show Dreamworks Dragons: Race to the Edge comes to Netflix.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Celebrating National Picnic Week with Primula

With this current spell of lovely weather, nothing beats some al fresco family dining, with a picnic being the number one choice for fun, outdoor eating. From the 13th to the 21st June it is National Picnic Week, which is being proudly sponsored by Primula. Primula have a really informative Picnic Week Hub, giving families some great ideas for picnic friendly recipes, top picnic spots and for things to do. It is well worth taking a look to get some ideas if you are planning a family picnic.

picnic, Primula

Primula also sent us some goodies so we could host our own family picnic. The beauty of a picnic is that it is perfect whatever your age, so I invited the grandparents who are both in their eighties, to join me, along with 19 year old Ella (who is home from university), 12 year old Kizzy and 5 year old Freddy. We had ourselves a wonderful three generation picnic, which we all enjoyed.

There are some beautiful picnic spots to be found around the UK, but you can equally enjoy a picnic in your own back garden. All you need is a picnic blanket, family, fresh air and a spread of easy to eat picnic food and you can turn an ordinary day into something special. Picnics are also brilliant for days out - you can save a small fortune by taking your own food instead of paying theme park or zoo restaurant prices. Plus it will be so much nicer and much more fun.

The food we enjoyed was very simple and easy to get together. Picnics needn't be complicated. In fact, using food that is easy to eat with the fingers, easy to package up and that minimises mess and hassle is a bonus when eating out of doors.

Primula is a great addition to a picnic as it can be squeezed straight from the tube onto cut bread or crackers without having to use a knife to spread it. I always prefer freshly made sandwiches so this is perfect - simply squeeze and eat! Plus it is fun. Freddy squeezed Primula onto carrot sticks and even grapes as he explored different ways to enjoy the cheesy goodness.

cheese, picnic

Original Primula is a blend of Cheddar and Gouda made into a squeezable cheese, which is naturally high in protein, a source of calcium, free from artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and is gluten free. It is suitable for vegetarians and, as it is pasteurised, is safe to eat when pregnant.  It comes in a variety of flavours including one with chives, a mild Kids blend with lower salt and added calcium and a light version with 40% less fat. (There are also ham and prawn flavours for non-vegetarians.)

Nana and Grandad loved trying out the different varieties of Primula on pieces of baguette along with some yummy strawberries and grapes, carrot sticks, hummus and a delicious dessert of profiteroles. Eating together in the fresh air, laughing, chatting and spending quality time with their grandchildren made for a very lovely day. It is a simple and cheap thing to do, but the memories shared are priceless.

The picnic setting proved to be a great incentive to encourage my picky eater Freddy to tuck in. He loved the freedom and the hands on style of eating, and ate more than I've seen him eat in a long time. He enjoyed being in charge of making his own food using the Primula to make faces, love hearts or spots on his bread.

Primula, picnics, family

One thing I didn't realise about Primula is that a proportion of the profits go to good causes, donated through the Kavli Trust to support humanitarian, research and cultural projects around the world and in local communities. In 2012, £2.5 million was donated to good causes.  This is just one more good reason to buy Primula.

Find out more about the Primula brand, the Kavli Trust, the product range and also visit the Primula Picnic Hub at

I hope you all get to enjoy many lovely family picnics over the summer!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Ben & Jerry's Cookie Core Ice Cream

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream is one of the most indulgent makes of ice cream out there. They always seem to go that extra mile to add extra flavours, textures and surprises to their ice creams and the new Cookie Core range is definitely taking ice cream luxury to a whole new level.

What-a-Lotta ChocolateUtter Peanut Butter Clutter and Speculoos? Specu-Love Cookie Cores have hit the supermarket frozen aisles and I was delighted to be offered the chance of trying some. Who could say no to Ben and Jerry's?!

The 500ml ice creams have a core of crumbly cookie running through the centre of the pot. It is a bit like a soft cheesecake base with a slightly crunchy, dense texture. It's a whole new way to eat cookies.

The three flavours available in the UK are:

Utter Peanut Butter Clutter: Peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter cookies & a crumbled peanut butter cookie core.

What-a-Lotta Chocolate: Chocolate ice cream with chocolate cookies and a crumbled chocolate cookie core.

Speculoos? Specu-Love: Caramel ice cream with traditional spiced Speculoos cookies and a crumbled, caramelised cookie core.

ice cream

I tried the What-A-Lotta Chocolate flavour. It is rich and intense, definitely one for chocoholics! The core is thick and flavoursome with the slight crunch of a crumbled cookie. It is much like the consistency of the pieces in their Cookie Dough ice cream, but on a bigger scale! Crunchy pieces of chocolate cookie are studded through the ice cream giving a really full on chocolatey experience.

My daughter Ella is a huge fan of the Utter Peanut Butter Clutter variety, which is perfect for lovers of PB! I like the slight saltiness contrasted with the creaminess of the ice cream, and the peanut butter cookie core is lush. It is such an inventive and delicious combination.

Not only do Ben and Jerry make the most incredible ice cream creations, they do it in the most sustainable way using Fairtrade ingredients, responsibly sourced packaging and their Caring Dairy initiative. I am super excited to have read that Ben and Jerry's are planning to make a non-dairy ice cream suitable for vegans. I certainly hope that this is right and a vegan version of this iconic brand becomes available in the UK in the near future. That would be incredible!

You can find Ben & Jerry's Cookie Cores 500ml  in supermarkets for £4.99 RRP.
Find out more at :

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Playing Traditional Board Games with the Bigjigs Games Compendium

Being Play Patrol Agents for Bigjigs Toys has been an honour, but our time as testers for their wonderful wooden toys has come to an end. However, Freddy has one more toy to test and it is a good one!

The Bigjigs Games Compendium is a beautifully made set of traditional wooden games that packs neatly into its own box. The games included are Snakes and Ladders, Tic Tac Toe, Draughts and Tiddly Winks. The set includes two reversible games boards and all the playing pieces, which are kept in cloth drawstring bags. One of the games boards doubles up as the lid to the storage box. It is a very clever design. The box has a handle making it easy to carry, so it's great for holidays or visits to the grandparents' house, ensuring kids are never at a loss for something to do.

wooden toys, traditional board games

The four games are really well constructed and everything is made of wood except for the tiddly winks counters and dice.  The Snakes and Ladders game is lovely and colourful, featuring pictures of favourite nursery rhyme characters that children will recognise, prompting many a rendition of a story, a rhyme or a song whilst playing. As a twist to the game, we made the rule that you had to recite the rhyme if you landed on one of the picture squares, which was a lot of fun.

The Tic Tac Toe has really chunky playing pieces, which made playing it really satisfying - more so than using the paper and pencil version. Freddy really loved this game of strategy and did really well trying to make his winning moves while blocking my attempts at getting three in a row.

This is Freddy's first ever Draughts set and he took to the game really well. It was lovely to see him so engaged with a traditional game, rather than playing Minecraft on the computer! It made him think and he enjoyed learning new skills.

The Tic Tac Toe board features a target with scoring circles that the counters have to be flicked into. Unfortunately neither myself or Freddy could get the counters to flick upwards and just ended up shooting them across the table missing the board completely! With a bit of improvisation we tossed the counters instead, which Freddy loved doing.

Bigjigs, draughts, tiddlywinks, games

Playing traditional games with children helps them develop many skills. It helps their dexterity, their communication skills, social skills, logical thinking skills, maths skills and helps them learn to take turns. The games are suitable for children aged 3 and up, but will definitely be enjoyed for many years to come.

You can find the Bigjigs Games Compendium at and its RRP is £22.99.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Adding some Minion Fun to Mealtimes

Tots 100 and Green Giant have challenged me to take part in their Minions Challenge to create the ultimate Minion inspired summer food to celebrate the release of the new Minions movie on June 26th. I have created two dishes using Green Giant Sweetcorn, which currently have a Minions promotion on pack. Both dishes are fun as well as healthy and Minion fans will love eating them.

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Cheesy Sweetcorn & Macaroni Minion Bake

Even the fussiest eater will love this nutritious and delicious pasta bake, packed with secret veggies. The cheesy sauce is in fact made from a blend of carrot, potato, sweet potato, onion and nutritional yeast flakes, which is low in fat, packed with goodness and very tasty. The macaroni is mixed with Green Giant sweetcorn, adding an extra portion of veggies. Decorating the cheesy topping Minion style, adds an element of fun that kids will love!

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Ingredients (enough for 2 individual servings and a 7" pyrex dish)

For the sauce
2 medium potatoes
3 medium carrots
1 medium sweet potato
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
3/4 pt vegetable stock
1/2 cup of Engevita nutritional yeast flakes (available from health food stores)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Other Ingredients
8oz macaroni
198g can of salt free Green Giant sweetcorn
Grated cheese, cheese slices, red pepper and raisins to decorate

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Chop the veggies and cook in stock until tender.
Allow to cool slightly then use a slotted spoon to remove cooked veggies into a food processor or blender.
Add a cupful of the cooking water.
Add the oil, Engevita and spices.
Blitz until smooth and creamy and set aside. (Adjust liquid and seasonings to get the perfect consistency and flavour.)
Cook the macaroni according to the pack instructions.
Drain and stir through the drained sweetcorn.
Add enough sauce to coat the pasta, to your liking (any leftover can be refrigerated for a few days).
Divide the mixture into individual ovenproof bowls for the children (put the rest into an ovenproof dish for the adults to share).
Top with grated cheese.
Use the cheese slices, pepper and raisins to make a Minion face on top of the kids' portions.
Cook in the oven at gas mark 5 for around 20 minutes until bubbling.

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Sweetcorn Fritters - 'Steves & Crosses'

Who said kids shouldn't play with their food? With these tasty little Green Giant sweetcorn fritters, children can enjoy a fun snack and play a game of 'Steves & Crosses' - an edible minion version of noughts and crosses!  Decorating half the fritters using cheese slices, peppers and raisins to create the Steve Minion, and topping the rest with a tomato ketchup cross makes the tastiest playing pieces. Four pieces of raw spaghetti will make the playing board so kids can play Tic-Tac-Toe before enjoying a healthy and yummy snack.

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Ingredients (makes 12)
1 tablespoon SR flour
1 free range egg
198g can salt free Green Giant Sweetcorn
ground pepper
oil for frying
cheese slice, pepper, raisins and tomato sauce to decorate

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Put the flour, egg, seasoning and sweetcorn into a blender and blitz to form a thick batter.
Using a frying pan, heat a little oil and cook spoonfuls of batter in batches.
When underside is set, flip the fritter and cook the other side.

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Decorate half the fritters using the cheese slice to make Steve's goggles. Use a piece of raisin and a piece of pepper to make the eye and mouth. Put a tomato sauce cross on the other fritters.

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Serve them with the noughts and crosses grid made using raw spaghetti on a serving board. They look fun and kids will love playing Minion Steves & Crosses while enjoying a tasty snack.


We are looking forward to the Minion movie when it comes out later this month. Freddy is a big fan of Despicable Me and the Minions. The Minions really are the perfect pairing for Green Giant Sweetcorn. Both are yellow and sweet and loved by Freddy!

The two dishes I made went down a real treat with the family. Freddy loved playing with and eating the fritters and he loved the Minion pasta bake. It's great to see him tucking into healthy food and enjoying his dinner thanks to the appeal of the Minions!

minions, sweetcorn recipes, minion themed food

Join in the fun and keep up to date with Green Giant and their Minions promotion and competitions on the Green Giant Facebook page.


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