Sunday, 31 January 2016

Stick Man out on DVD #StickManDVD

On Christmas Day, 10 million of us settled down with our little ones to watch the BBC transmission of Stick Man, and what a wonderful treat it was! The latest Julia Donaldson adaptation really captured our hearts and imaginations, with its emotional storytelling and magical animation.

julia donaldson

The DVD of Stick Man is available to own on February 1st 2016. Starring the voice talents of Martin Freeman, Hugh Bonneville, Rob Brydon, Jennifer Saunders, Russell Tovey and Sally Hawkins, the short film tells the story of Stick Man's epic journey home, after unintentionally ending up miles away from his family tree. His marathon adventure features many predicaments where he finds himself in a swan's nest, being used as a dog's toy, in a fire and on a sandcastle as a flag. But he knows he isn't an ordinary stick - he's Stick Man and his family are waiting for him to come home.

Stick man

Stick Man promises to be a real classic and a family favourite. At 27 minutes long it is perfect for little ones. We have received a copy of Stick Man to enjoy together along with some of the lovely merchandise accompanying the film.  My family loves it - we may even have shed a tear or two, sharing in Stick Man's adventure as he journeyed home to his loved ones who wanted him back so desperately. It's a tale of love, bravery, family and self belief. The animation is beautiful, true to the illustrations of Alex Scheffler, creating a charming visual experience.

Fans of Julia Donaldson and the Stick Man book  will love the DVD, which comes with some special features including an artwork gallery, a live performance by the author and illustrator and a behind the scenes documentary.

stick man
Click and print out this activity sheet for some Stick Man fun.

Stick Man is the latest film adaptation from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler based on their timeless classic, which is available on DVD from 1st February 2016, courtesy of Entertainment One.

Saturday, 30 January 2016


Geronimo, the largest children’s festival in the North West has announced its most exciting line-up to date, with headliner CBeebies Superstar Justin FletcherKnown for CBeebies shows Something Special, Justin’s House and Gigglebiz, Justin Fletcher will be performing his signature act on the festival’s main stage for one day only at each festival, on Sunday 29th May at Tatton Park and 1st May at Harewood House.
With more acts and activities still to be announced, Geronimo Festival 2016 is a fantastic day out for the whole family, promising an exciting programme of acts, amazing experiences and wonderful adventures.
Further acts announced:

BOOMCHIKKABOOM!  Supported by Mothercare UK, enjoy bubble and snow machines, giant parachutes, face painting, soft play, crafts, pom poms and live music – to get the whole family raving together with timetabled "rave sessions".
VIP Puppets creates larger than life puppets that interact with their audience. With walkabouts featuring an adorable giraffe called Dolly and her baby Juno, guests can pet or feed the towering puppets who are always happy to lower their heads to meet their biggest (smallest) fans. Dolly's team of attentive zookeepers is always on hand to train new recruits in feeding, and cleaning up her poo!
For all mini music lovers, Saul’s Junk orchestra’s amazing pop up musical installations will amaze and inspire. Find them in the woods and the main festival field, or join in one of their workshops.
Panning for gold has been around for hundreds of years, and you can try your hand at it with The Highland Valley gold & gem panning activity, bringing the gold rush to Geronimo!

Early bird tickets available until 31st Jan priced at £18.50 so be quick!
Tickets priced at £25.00pp from 1st Feb. 

Geronimo Festival

Visit for more information

Twitter: @geronimofest_uk

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Playmobil Eggs for Easter #PlaymobilPlayologist

It seems like just yesterday that our Playmobil Advent Calendar's last door was opened, heralding the excitement of Santa's imminent arrival, but now we are looking forward to Easter. Easter is a lovely time of year and an opportunity for the family to get together for some fun Easter activities and a celebration Sunday dinner. Little ones love to receive Easter gifts and Playmobil has a great range of toys encased in colourful, plastic Easter eggs, which are perfect for giving, that make a great alternative to traditional chocolate eggs.

Freddy was delighted to receive two of the Playmobil eggs, one from the Sports & Action and the other from the City Life range to open early. (The eggs are available to buy from February 2016.) Both suitable for boys and girls who love Playmobil toys, they are £6.99 each, which is a great price for a Easter gift that will be loved and enjoyed for years to come. We think they are brilliant!

Playmobil, easter eggs

The City Life egg is bright yellow in colour and contains a sealed bag containing nine Playmobil pieces including a female zookeeper figure, an alpaca and accessories. With a broom for sweeping and a bucket of greenery for the alpaca to eat, children can enjoy lots of imaginative play.

The toys can be packed away into the egg for storage or added to your Playmobil collection.

easter egg

The bright red egg contains the Sports & Action soccer player, perfect for sports mad kids. The set contains one footballer in a red jersey along with a ball and a goal. There are some numbered stickers so you can personalise his strip with the number of your choice.

The footballer figure fits on a stand and has a leg with real kick action so you can kick the ball into the goal for some penalty practice. This adds an extra element of fun to play time.

Easter egg

The Playmobil Egg toys are the same high quality as you would expect from the brand. Played with as a one-off toy, or as part of a big collection, Playmobil offers the opportunity for children to create their own world of imagination, allowing them to explore different worlds and environments through play.

The eggs are suitable for children aged 3 to 10 years old and can be found on the Playmboil website where you can see the whole range of Playmobil Eggs for 2016: Easter Bunny School, Mermaid with Seahorses, Soccer Player with Goal, Zookeeper with Alpaca and Pirate on Treasure Hunt. Each is £6.99.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

How to Enjoy A Night at the Movies - in the comfort of our own home

We love movie nights here Inside the Wendy House. Films bring families together, giving us an opportunity to snuggle up to enjoy a good movie. Film nights are also a lovely opportunity for grandparents to get involved with the grandchildren - you can be any age to enjoy a good movie together. A film night at home is also a really cheap alternative to a night out at the cinema, so it can save you some money without compromising on having a good time together.

We have been given the opportunity to host a Night at the Movies in our own home, courtesy of Gracewell Care Homes, with a blockbuster movie to watch, and some snacks to munch on.

Hosting a film night is easy:

  • Invite family or friends over at a set time for the showing of a film.
  • Pick an age appropriate film for your audience. If younger people will be attending, be sure you have permission from their parents to let them see films that have a 12A or above certificate.
  • You can purchase a film on DVD or Blu-Ray if it's one you want to keep, otherwise you can use a streaming service (such as Amazon Video, Sky, Blinkbox or iTunes) to purchase a 24 hr rental. 
  • Provide suitable snacks that are easy to eat with the lights out!  Retro sweets served up in individual portion sized paper bags are fun and cones of freshly made popcorn are perfect film food and very cheap to make yourself. Of course you can provide gourmet popcorn if the budget allows - Joe & Seph's popcorn is my absolute favourite. Cans or juice cartons of drinks save on any post film washing up. 
  • Make sure there are plenty of cushions and blankets so everyone can get comfy.
  • Turn the lights out and switch mobiles on to silent mode.
  • Enjoy your movie night!

films, George Fairbairn
Image by George Fairbairn

It is such a great activity for kids of all ages to enjoy. Little ones love a good Disney film or cartoon feature, and we regularly sit down together to watch the latest must see movie with Freddy and Kezia. But having older children too, means we can also enjoy some more grown up movie nights. It is lovely to spend quality time with our teenagers. So Terminator Genisys was our film of choice, which is a certificate 12. Once Freddy was in bed we were able to begin our film night.

We are big fans of the Terminator movie franchise and this latest edition did not disappoint. It was wonderful to see Arnie back in the lead role taking on his younger self thanks to the time travel element of the films. Game of Thrones' Emilia Clark takes on the role as Sarah Connor. Genisys combined the trademark humour and action of the original movies to create an enjoyable, exciting action film, with a wonderful touch of Terminator nostalgia.

film night

This post has been inspired by Gracewell Elderly Care Homes who put on family film nights for their residents, encouraging members of their families to attend, bringing the generations together for activities everyone can enjoy.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Must Watch Documentaries on Netflix #StreamTeam

My Netflix viewing has been completely dominated by watching the powerful, gripping documentary series Making a Murderer. The tale of wrongful conviction, police corruption, a flawed judicial system, evidence tampering and false confessions is the stuff of a work of great crime fiction - so the fact that it is all true makes this one of the most compelling programmes I have watched in a long time.

The case of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey has gripped Netfix audiences, garnering them lots of support across the world. Watching it sets you on a journey of emotions from anger to disbelief to frustration as you question everything. Filmed over a decade, it includes footage from the interrogation rooms, the courtroom, recorded calls from jail and press coverage from the time, making it utterly authentic.

Making a Murderer stays with you long after you finish the series. I have researched the case online, reading transcripts, developments and theories that viewers have come up with. There is a Reddit thread dedicated to the case and many a meme has been created in honour of the show. I have my own ideas about the case, which I discuss at length with my daughter who is studying Criminology at university. It has highlighted so much that is wrong with the system and gives you an insight into how the pressure and desire to make a conviction can distort a criminal investigation and prevent the truth from ever being discovered.

If you haven't seen it - you simply must watch it!

Blackfish is a documentary focusing on the controversial captivity of Orcas in parks such as Seaworld, and the potential dangers it poses not only on the whales but also on the humans who come into contact with them.

Viewers are shown archive footage of the capture, training and captivity of these intelligent, sentient creatures who suffer from great distress often resulting in extreme aggression and violence. The documentary features a male killer whale called Tilikum, who is responsible for the deaths of three individuals including a renowned whale trainer, Dawn Brancheau.

Much of the footage is shocking and you question who the real monsters are - can you really blame the Orcas for these acts of extreme violence or should we look closely at the organisations that oppress and exploit these creatures for money-making entertainment purposes?  Blackfish is an impassioned documentary that makes you change the way you look at performing killer whales in captivity.

Food Inc is a graphic look at the food industry in America, focusing on the damage done by corporate farming carried out on a vast scale for enormous profits, with little regard for consumer health, animal welfare, employees' rights or the environment. As they gain greater control of the global food market corporations are mass producing food cheaply with little regard for the negative consequences and catastrophic impact they are having on the world or humanity itself.

With the majority of food production carried out by a handful of these secretive corporations, the standard of production relies on cheap processes that rely on cruelty and exploitation to maximise profit rather than on quality. Exploitation extends to the underpaid workers, to the indebted farmers, to the inhumanely treated animals and to the consumers who are fed substandard products.

Watching Food Inc reminds us all of the value of quality food: slow grown, organic, locally sourced produce rather than chemically altered food such as burger meat that contains bleach to remove dangerous toxins to make it fit for human consumption.

I always have my belief in my family's vegetarian lifestyle reaffirmed when watching documentaries like this. Even though this is an exposé of the America food industry, it isn't difficult to see similarities in the UK markets. With the rise of obesity and diet related diseases, we should all take stock of what we eat and how that food is produced.

Montage of Heck is a documentary about the life and career of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Packed with home movies, recordings, artwork, animations, readings from journals and photos, it gives you an incredible window in to Kurt's childhood, formative years and his rise to fame.

His happy early years soon gave way to feelings of rejection and Kurt became a very troubled teen, but his desperation to be loved and accepted and his creativity shone through. It's very sad to witness his early downfall and the failure of his family to provide the support he needed. You can't help but wonder whether he could have been saved - but without his tortured soul we may have never seen the genius of Nirvana.

The insight into Kurt's character and his relationships is amazing. Viewing his journals allows us a rare glimpse into his wildly active mind, filled with lists, lyrics, rants, cartoons and ideas. His mental problems, ill health and addictions saw him spiral into darkness, but his creativity and talent were a beacon of light that escalated him into becoming a legend and reluctant spokesperson for a generation of disaffected youth.

Cobain's story is such a tragedy, and this documentary reveals a vulnerability and a desire to be loved that speaks of his humanity, fleshing out the grunge rock legend into a human being with desires, hopes, flaws and insecurities. His relationship with Courtney seemed to be the catalyst for his demise, although it offered the thing he always craved - family. Some people are just not meant for this world, but Kurt's legacy lives on.

Kurt Cobain

Visually this is a stunning documentary featuring interviews, real life footage and incredible animations to accompany audio footage. It's a must see for fans offering a rounded view of the man and avoiding any conclusions or answers to the question of his rise and fall. in fact the factors surrounding his death are not explored at all. Instead it provides a chance to witness the pivotal moments and to see the man himself in a raw and real documentary with an amazing soundtrack.

This documentary is authorised by Kurt's widow Courtney Love and his family and finishes a month before his untimely and tragic death, so any conspiracy theorists who believe his death was murder and not suicide, may be left wanting by the final cut.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

New Orleans Style Bean and Rice Casserole - a recipe for when it's cold outside

As part of the Veetee Rice Blogger Community, I have created a vegetarian recipe for a tasty, wholesome family meal for when it's cold outside. Using a pack of Veetee microwave New Orleans Style Rice, it is quick and easy to make a warming pot of Bean and Rice Casserole. It is a one pot meal, perfect for the winter, flavoured with the tastes of the deep South - chilli, smoked paprika and earthy kidney beans. The recipe makes a big pan full, perfect for feeding your hungry hordes!

deep south, creole, vegetarian

New Orleans Style Bean and Rice Casserole


2 red onions chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 carrots chopped
2 potatoes chopped
1 sweet potato chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes with garlic and chilli
1 tablespoon tomato puree
300ml vegetable stock
3 cans of beans (kidney, aduki, chickpeas, butter, black etc)
1 teaspoon coriander leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprkia
ground black pepper
(1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for a spicier dish)
1 pack Veetee New Orleans Style Rice
150ml coconut milk
oil for frying



Put onions into a large saucepan and gently fry for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add chopped vegetables and fry for a further 5 minutes.
Pour in tomatoes, tomato puree and stock and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to simmer.
Add drained beans and corander and ground black pepper and simmer for 25 -30 minutes until vegetables are tender. (Add boiling water if it starts to boil dry.)
Microwave the rice for 2 minutes and add to the pan, stirring through.
Continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes until thickened.
Stir through coconut milk and heat through.

This dish is also great for the slow cooker. This is how I made it. Add everything except for the rice and coconut milk to the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour then on medium for 3 hours. Add heated rice and coconut milk and cook for a further hour until rich and thickened.

vegetarian, slow cooker

Veetee Blogger Community

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Win a self-watering Lechuza Cubico 22 planter, worth £39.99

Win a self-watering Lechuza Cubico 22 planter, worth £39.99, to plant with your little ones! 

We all know kids love the great outdoors in the summer months, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get green-fingered in winter too. Planting indoors with your children is not only educational but great fun for all of the family to get involved in too! 

We’re offering one lucky winner a stylish Lechuza CUBICO 22 All-in-One Set to get your little ones growing exciting plants or edibles and add some greenery to your home during the winter months. 


Lechuza planters (widely used by professional landscapers and the green fingered enthusiasts) are famed for their sub-irrigation system, which provides plants with the exact amount of water they need for optimum growth for up to 12 weeks.  

The CUBICO combines elegance with the most convenient use and care – perfect for introducing the little ones to gardening. 

To find out more, visit 

To enter the competitionfill out the Rafflecopter entry form. UK entrants only. The winner will be contacted to arrange delivery of the prize directly from Lechuza.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Return of the Tooth Fairy

It's been quite a while since the tooth fairy paid a visit to our house. So when Freddy's first wobbly tooth happened, I felt a real pang of nostalgia, knowing that we were about to revisit this phase of childhood with our youngest child.

Before it fell out, I told him the story of the tooth fairy, who spends the nights seeking out the cleanest, whitest, best brushed, pearliest lost teeth from little boys and girls, so she can take them back to Fairy Land to help build their beautiful, shining, white castles. The prospect of her leaving a gold coin in return, definitely got him very interested!  But Freddy, being Freddy, was quite anxious about the actual mechanics of losing a tooth - Would it hurt? Would he look weird? Could he eat? So, unlike his siblings, he didn't go for the 'ripping it out' technique, instead he waited patiently for nature to take its course. It was wobbling around in his gum for over four weeks.

Then last night it happened. The wobbly tooth fell out, cleanly and painlessly. No drama!

Freddy put the tooth into the little pewter tooth fairy pot that has been used in the past by his siblings, and put it by his bed. I have never seen him quite so thrilled about anything in a long time. Even the excitement of Santa's visit last month was not as great as the prospect of a castle-building fairy bearing cash visiting our home.

I think it was 4 am this morning when Freddy crept into our bed. By half past he was asking if we could go check the pot to see if his tooth had been exchanged for a coin. I managed to shush him back to sleep, but within minutes he was asking again. This continued off and on and off and on until about 6 am, when I finally gave up and told him to go and take a look. The discovery of a pound coin in place of his tooth was a cause for true joy. Not even the delivery of his Christmas stocking elicited such an excited response.

So my little boy has taken another step along the path of growing up and I get to enjoy doing it all again.  As he is my youngest and my last child, I intend to savour every single moment of every single stage and relive the magic of childhood as he experiences it all for the first time.

missing tooth, wobbly teeth, tooth fairy

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Fruit and Nut Breakfast Bar Recipe with Lyle's Golden Syrup

Lyle's have challenged me to make one of their breakfast recipes created by Jo Pratt using Lyle's easy to squeeze Breakfast Bottle Golden Syrup. Jo's recipes are great for winter mornings when you need something hearty to give you the energy you need to get through the day.

The recipe I chose to make was Lyle's Golden Syrup Fruit and Nut Breakfast Bars. This recipe is particularly appealing because I have lots of left over dried fruit and nuts from Christmas, making this a great way to use them up. With a few tweaks of the recipe (such as using vegan margarine instead of butter) I was able to create a vegan version of the bars, packed with oats, cranberries, dates, almonds, Brazil nuts, linseed, pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds.


The Fruit and Nut Breakfast Bars are compact, nutrient dense and energy giving. They are great for when on the go and can be enjoyed with a glass of juice or milk or a pot of yogurt. They would also be perfect for lunchboxes. (Click on the image below to open it to full size for recipe.)

breakfast, Lyle's

The recipe is pretty easy to make and can be adapted to suit what you have in the cupboard. It is a lovely way to use up nuts and seeds and dried fruits, and if stored in an airtight container will last up to 2 weeks.

The bars are colourful with a lovely, flapjacky texture and a sweet, fruity, nutty and rich flavour. Although not low in calories, they are nutrient dense and rich in fibre.

flapjack, breakfast

Monday, 11 January 2016

January Pick-Me-Ups - featuring Cadbury Highlights, Nim's, Bahlsen and Bacofoil

January is a bit of a juxtaposition! On one hand we face the struggle of attempting to get over the expenses and excesses of Christmas and getting back into the routine of daily life. Then on the other hand we are also welcoming a brand new year and looking forward to what it may bring; a chance for new beginnings, exciting prospects and brighter futures. And all this is played out against a backdrop of short winter's days with grey skies and chilly weather.

Here is a review round up of some of the products that we are trying out this January, which are helping make the return to the daily grind a little bit more manageable.

Cadbury Highlights - a guilt-free way to beat those chocolate cravings

Over Christmas, chocolate becomes one of the major food groups, consumed on a daily basis, often without thought. In the new year we have to face up to what those chocolate oranges, selection boxes and tins of choccies have done to our waistlines. No wonder so many new year's resolutions revolve around weightloss. But in this grim weather, we sometimes crave a sweet fix to get us through the day.

Cadbury Highlights allows us to indulge our chocolatey cravings without compromising on our diet plans as it is just 38 calories a cup and less than 1% fat. Available in a variety of flavours from the smooth, dark Bournville to the sweet, creamy Caramel or Fudge to the nutty Hazelnut, there is something to suit all tastes.

drinking chocolate

Cadbury Highlights are quick and easy to make - just add to hot water and stir to make a warming cup of hot chocolate. A 220g jar is £3.89 RRP and the individual sachets are just 32p each.

Nim's Fruit Crisps - the healthier, fruity snack

When you want a snack, it is easy to give into the temptation of something unhealthy and high calorie, but with Nim's Fruit Crisps, you can enjoy a sweet treat that is virtually guilt free. The fruit crisps are air dried, giving them a crispy texture and an intensely fruity flavour. It is a great way to enjoy one of your five a day and they are rich in fibre and vitamin C and only 57 - 75 calories a day. The nutritional content and natural sweetness of the fruit is maintained and 100% of the fruits are used in the unique process used to make them.

snacking, fruit

Available in Apple, Pear and Kiwi, Orange and Melon and Pineapple and Mango flavours, they are suitable for coeliacs, gluten free diets, vegans and the health conscious. They make a good snack for when on the go or for lunchboxes.

They really are very different to anything I've had before and are really fruity tasting. They make a nice change from savoury crisps and really hit the sweet fix spot. They can help combat bad snacking habits in adults and children alike (if kids can get past the appearance!)

A 20 - 22g bag costs £1.10. Find out more at


Pick Up! - biscuit treats from Bahlsen

Bahlsen make some really good quality biscuits and their Pick Up! range of individual biscuit bars deliver a crunchy treat. Each bar consists of solid chocolate sandwiched between two crisp biscuits. They come in Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Black 'n' White and Choco & Caramel flavours.


They are individually wrapped to lock in freshness and each biscuit is around the 140 calorie mark. So, if you fancy a biscuit, you can enjoy a single portion sized Pick Up! and avoid the danger of eating a whole packet of loose biccies! Find out more abour Pick Up! at


Bacofoil Sandwich Bags - for a warm packed lunch

Buying lunches out or when at work can prove to be a costly and often calorific choice. However, in the winter months, a cold sandwich is not always that appealing. But with Bacofoil's Foil Sandwich Bags, you can enjoy a warm, homemade sandwich at lunchtime. Just make something in the morning, like a warm falafel wrap, seal it in the bag and eat it warm later. The foil bags seal together, retaining the freshness, flavour and heat. The bags also keep cold food fresh for 24 hours, so you can make your lunch the day before to enjoy when you are ready to eat it. This can save time and helps you get organised.


The bags are reusable making them good value. 16 large bags costs £2.49 at Ocado. Homemade packed lunches can save lots of money, especially important in January, after the expense of Christmas. Bacofoil ensures your lunch stays fresh and safe to eat. Also you can be sure that what you are eating is a healthy option using quality ingredients from home.


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