Toy Review: Meet the New StikBot Dinos

StikBots were launched a couple of years ago now. They’re little plastic figures with sticky suction cups on their hands and feet which you can animate. There’s even a free app you can use to animate them. If you don’t fancy animating them, you can just play with them normally. I’ve heard they make good fidget toys. We were sent some of the new StikBot Dinos range to have a look at, so what did we think?

Toy Review: Meet the New Stikbot Dinos

We were sent two StikBot Dinos to play with. The StikBot Mega Dino Brontosaurus and a StikBot Dinos Egg. The StikBot Dinos Egg is one of 24 StikBot Dinos to collect. There are Seven different Dinos in nine different colours and some rare ones too. The egg comes with a collectors leaflet, so you can see what you’ve got and how rare it might be. When we opened ours up we discovered that we’d got a rare one.

Toy Review: Meet the New Stikbot Dinos

These StikBot Dino eggs really tap into the trend for blind-bags and collectibles. They cost around £6.50 each and are available online and in some toy shops.

The Stikbot Dinos have a really unique design, with suction-cup hands and feet, so you can position them on any flat surface. Their legs, body, mouth, tail and neck can be positioned in all kinds of different angles which makes them great to make stop-frame animations with.

Toy Review: Meet the New StikBot Dinos

The StikBot Mega Dino Brontosaurus is bigger than the egg and they cost around £9. You can choose from Stik T rex, Stik Carnotaurus or Stik Brontosaurus, each is available in three different colours.

Th sticky pads make these StikBots perfect for making stop-frame animation films using the free to download mobile Animation App. The app is easy to use and helps you create a professional animation, with built-in music and sound effects.

Toy Review: Meet the New StikBot Dinos

I wasn’t sure what my 7 year old would think of the StikBot Dinos but he really enjoyed playing with them. We haven’t tried making an animation yet, but he’s played with them all weekend, making a Jurassic story of his own. I can see us putting together a StikBot animation in the future as he’s very keen to try them out, so watch this space for the next dino blockbuster movie!

Disclaimer – We were sent these StikBot Dinos for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

When we heard that SEA LIFE Manchester were unveiling a new exhibit, we had to go down and check it out. SEA LIFE Manchester is one of our favourite places to spend a few hours and we were keen to meet the new resident –  a Japanese Spider Crab!

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

Japanese Spider Crabs can measure over 5 metres claw to claw, and can live to up to 100 years old! There are three Japanese Spider Crabs at SEA LIFE Manchester in a huge new tank area. Given they can grow up to the size of a small car, even though they seem huge, they still have plenty of growing to do.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

The hard shell of the Japanese Spider Crab helps to protect them from larger predators such as octopuses, but giant spider crabs also use camouflage. The crab’s bumpy shell can help them to blend into the rocky ocean floor. They really are incredible creatures. Almost nightmarish in appearance, but apparently they are quite placid creatures. It felt really special to see these deep-sea creatures close up.

SEA LIFE Manchester has been given a bit of a makeover since we were last there just before Christmas. A few things have been moved about or refreshed, with, I’m pleased to say, another jellyfish tank in the building. You can crawl through the fluorescent world of the floating moon jellyfish in their brand new 360-degree doughnut tank. I adore jellyfish and we always spend lots of time watching them swim about. They’re very relaxing to watch.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

We also stopped by the Jurassic Ranger area to have a look at the fossils. The Ranger expertly told us all about the fossils she had on display and let us touch some. She also gave the kids a sharks tooth each to take home with them as a souvenir. It was really interesting to find out more about sharks and sharks teeth, especially as that’s one of his topics at school this year.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

SEA LIFE Manchester is one of our favourite places to visit. I’m pleased to see it’s been given a little makeover in parts. The centre is packed full of beautiful, weird and wonderful creatures; it’s well worth a visit for a few hours if you’re wanted a few hours of wonder and awe.

Find out more about what’s on at SEA LIFE Manchester on their website.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

Easy Recipe: KitKat Rocky Road

A few weeks ago I made a batch (well, several batches) of rocky road with Butterfinger Mini Cups. They were a huge success and I’ve had almost daily requests for me to make some more. It’s a simple recipe and one which can be thrown together quickly, so I thought I’d make a batch of KitKat Rocky Road with the bag of KitKat bites I had in the cupboard for snack emergencies.

KitKats are really underrated. They’ve been a favourite of mine since I was a child, though I don’t eat them quite as often these days. KitKats have reinvented themselves in a hundred different ways, but you can’t beat the two finger classic  can you? I do like these new(ish) KitKat Bites. It’s hard to put them down after the recommended snack sized portion though.

Easy Recipe: KitKat Rocky Road

This KitKat Rocky Road recipe is probably the most popular rocky road I’ve made. All the ingredients are the kind of things that most people will have lurking in their cupboards, so it’s a great little store-cupboard recipe for emergency sweet treats! This recipe makes 12 generous slices.

KitKat Rocky Road

Ingredients:
200g Milk Chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 Tablespoons of golden syrup
135g Unsalted butter
100g Mini marshmallows
50g Raisins
100g KitKat Bites, or a normal KitKat chopped up

Easy Recipe: KitKat Rocky Road

Method:
Line a high sided baking tray with baking parchment. I used a small roasting tin because it was about the right size.

Put the milk chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a glass bowl. Using a bain marie (put an inch or two of hot water in the pan and place the glass bowl over the top making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl) over a gentle heat. Stir the chocolate until it has all melted together and it looks so good you want to put your face in it.

While the chocolate mixture is slowly melting, put the biscuits into a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin until they’re broken up, but not crumbs. Ideally you want a mixture of chunky pieces and smaller, crumbly bits. Once bashed, tip them into a mixing bowl. Add the marshmallows and raisins.

Take the KitKat Bites and put a few to one side for decoration. Take the rest and chop them into chunks, add them to the biscuit mix. If you’re using a full sized KitKat fingers, chop each finger into chunks and add those.

Once the chocolate has melted, take it off the heat and carefully tip the biscuity mix into the chocolate. Stir it well and make sure everything is coated. Then tip it onto your baking tray spread the mixture out. It needs to be about 2cm deep as a minimum for maximum awesomeness.

Easy Recipe: KitKat Rocky Road

Take the KitKat pieces you’d put to one side and poke them into the mixture so they’re visible, but the melted chocolate will anchor them in place. Put the tray in the fridge or somewhere cool for at least two hours, better still overnight. Once set, cut into generous wedges and enjoy.

These KitKat rocky road treats will keep in an airtight tin for a few days, but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Easy Recipe: KitKat Rocky Road

Father’s Day Craft: Make a Clay Thumbprint Keepsake

Lately we’ve been playing about with clay and really enjoying it. We’ve been using air dry clay, which is easy to use and you don’t need to bake it in the oven or anything like that. This makes it ideal for kid’s crafts. We thought we’d make a little something for Father’s Day. It was the boy’s idea, so the credit goes to him. He made this lovely Clay Thumbprint Keepsake for Father’s Day. Isn’t it sweet?

Crafts: Make a Clay Thumbprint Keepsake for Father's Day

Make a Clay Thumbprint Keepsake

You will need:
A packet of air dry clay
A rolling pin
Some cookie cookers
A wooden toothpick
Some coloured paint, we used gold
A fine paintbrush
A length of ribbon

How to make a Clay Thumbprint Keepsake :
Take a piece of clay and work it in your hands for a few minutes until it is pliable. Roll it out on a surface you don’t mind getting clay on, we used a plastic chopping board that could be put in the dishwasher afterwards. The pieces need to be about half a centimetre thick.

Crafts: How to make a Clay Scrabble Tile Nameplate

Taking your cookie cutters, cut out a few shapes. You might want to make a few of these in one go to give as little gifts to other family members. Once he was happy with the shape, he pressed his thumb into the middle to make the thumbprint. He chose to write his name on it with a toothpick too.

Once he was happy with it, I took the toothpick and made a good sized hole near the top so that when it’s dry you can thread the ribbon through.

Crafts: Make a Clay Thumbprint Keepsake for Father's Day

We left them to dry for 24 hours, though longer might be needed, depending on your clay. Once the pieces were dry, we painted the thumbprint keepsake with some gold paint and left that to dry. Then I carefully threaded some ribbon through, made a knot and now it’s ready to hang up.

It’s a very sweet little gift my son can give to his Dad this Father’s Day.

Crafts: Make a Clay Thumbprint Keepsake

Children’s Books: Five Fantastic Books about Fathers

Reading together is something we do every night before bed. It’s a wonderful habit to get into, more so if you’re reading books which you both enjoy. This month, with Father’s Day fast approaching, we’ve been looking at books about Dads. There are some really lovely books about Fathers in our selection, we hope you enjoy them too.

Five Fantastic Books about Fathers

Peppa Pig: My Daddy by Peppa Pig. The world’s favourite pig, Peppa lists all of the things she loves the most about Daddy Pig in this really sweet picture book. It’s a lovely Father’s Day read for pre-schoolers, Peppa Pig fans and their parents and it a good place to start thinking of all the reasons little ones love their Daddy.

Children's Books: Five Fantastic Books about Fathers

Papasaurus by Stephan Lomp is the perfect picture book for little dinosaur fans to read together with their own Papasaurus. Babysaurus and Papasaurus love playing hide and seek, but one day, no matter where he looks, he can’t find him. With the help of his pre-historic friends he finds that his Papasaurus has been there all along. Colourfully illustrated, this is a real treat of a book for little ones to read with their Papa.

My Father Is a Polar Bear by Michael Morpurgo. My Father Is a Polar Bear tells the story of two young brothers who rediscover their birth father in the most unlikely of places. The boys have a loving mother and step-father at home, but are curious to find out more about their birth father. They go to see him in a play at the theatre where he is playing as a polar bear. This warm and charming story is beautifully illustrated and sensitively told.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is an absolutely gorgeous book which perfectly sums up how much a parent loves a child. Featuring Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare; they take it in turns to try to measure how much love they have for each other. It’s lovely, it’s heartwarming and it’s about the most famous book about love you could think of, for good reason too!

Bad Dad by David Walliams. Bad Dad is a fast and furious, heart-warming story of a father and son on an adventure. Together they embark on a thrilling mission to break an innocent man into prison. Suitable for ages 9+ this book is funny, heart-warming and full of action. The perfect page turner this Father’s Day!

What are your favourite books about Fathers? Have I missed any good ones?

If you enjoyed this, you might also like our selection of five books about love.

Children's Books: Five Fantastic Books about Fathers

Little Sports Coaching – learn new footballing skills

Like most boys born in Manchester, my son has grown up with a football at his feet. He’s not a natural-born striker, but he enjoys having a kick-about in the park and it’s nice to encourage a love of sports at an early age. This month he joined the Little Sports Coaching Mini Soccer programme in Manchester where he hoped to learn a few new skills to show off in the park.

Little Sports Coaching launched in 2006 as a sports coaching organisation.  They work in nurseries and primary schools; run soccer schools, multi sports, dance and gymnastics classes, holiday camps, one to one coaching sessions, children’s parties and even have their own junior football team. 

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

My son has trained with them before at school; so he already knew some of the coaches when he arrived at the Manchester Health Academy in Wythenshawe, Manchester for his first session. They were really welcoming and gave him his own brightly coloured kit (it’s very bright, so there’s no losing him in a crowd when he wears it).

He got straight in with a warm-up kick about with the other players in his group. There were about 8 children in each group and when the weather isn’t terrible they get to play outside on the astroturf. Some of the kids were amazing and obviously had been attending for several years. Ben got stuck in and made sure he was near the coach, listening and paying attention to what he was told to do.

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

During the Mini Soccer programme players learned a selection of skills including dribbling, passing, shooting, heading and much more; plus each session includes taking part in five-a-side football matches to practice those skills.

The Mini Soccer sessions last for two hours with a short break in the middle. A bottle of water is essential and players are encouraged to bring a snack to eat such as fruit. Although kit is provided, players will need comfortable trainers or football boots if they’re playing outside.

Parents don’t have to stay for the sessions, but you can do if you’d like. I’ll be honest and say we slipped away for half an hour to pick up a few bits from a nearby retail park. He was busy concentrating and probably didn’t even notice we’d gone.

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

At the end of each session the coaches award a player of the week trophy for a player who has shown improvement; or who has tried extra hard, listened well or been a good team player. The trophy is kept for one week and when it’s returned the player gets a certificate to keep. It’s a nice little motivator to do well.

The coaches are engaging, encouraging and professional. You can tell they really enjoy helping to coach these young players. It’s clear from sitting on the sidelines for a few hours that the kids love the sessions too. There’s something special about watching a group of kids form a team and play together; watching them learn new skills and grow in confidence too.

Two hours of football is quite a lot to ask my son to play on a hot June afternoon. He does flag a bit towards the end; but the rest of his team are all still running about and picking up any slack he leaves.

He’s had three training sessions with Little Sports Coaching now and he really enjoys going. When he gets home he’s hungry, thirsty and tired, which is how I think it should be. He’s had a good run around and learned some new football skills. He’s learned quite a lot of other things too; like teamwork, listening skills, he’s concentrated on what he’s doing and what he should be doing and most of all, he’s had a lot of fun doing it. Isn’t that what taking part in sports is really all about?

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

Little Sports Coaching offer a wide range of sports coaching including football, dance and multi-sports across Manchester and the North West. Each session of Mini Soccer costs £6 which for two hours worth of coaching is excellent value.

To find out more about Little Sports Coaching, visit their website www.littlesportscoaching.co.uk/mini-soccer.

Disclosure: We were offered four Little Sports Coaching sessions and the kit in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2018

Recently I’ve started joking to friends that I’m thinking of renaming my blog Dinosaur Days. It sometimes feels like a good percentage of my blog posts are about dinosaurs. When I started out blogging, my blog was there to document our lives; the things we did and the things we liked. Right now, dinosaurs are a pretty big part of our lives because the boy just loves them. Apologies if you’re not as enthusiastic as us about these pre-historic creatures, but there’s usually cake on Friday; so do pop back then if that’s more your thing. Today I want to take a look at some of the new range of Schleich Dinosaur figurines.

Review: New range of Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2018

Schleich are one of the leading makers of dinosaur figurines. If you’re into dinosaurs, Schleich is the most well-known, quality brands around. Cheaper dino figurines are usually made in China and the bigger ones are often made in two pieces and glued together; which I think looks terrible. We have quite a lot of the Schleich dinosaurs and you can easily spot the difference between them and the made in China figures.

The Schleich figurines are designed with great attention to detail and are painted by hand. Dinosaur figurines help children to explore the fascination of the prehistoric era and its creatures through play.

Review: New range of Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2018

The new Schleich Dinosaurs for 2018 include a large T-Rex (£15.99), a Dinogorgon (£7.99) and a Psittacosaurus (£7.99). These dinos come in new poses and are really realistic. The quality of these hand painted figurines is superb. They look fabulous fighting to the death in the patch of long grass in my garden.

The T-Rex is fierce looking and impressive, he stands at just under six inches tall and has lots of detail. He’s pretty steady on his feet and coped well on my uneven garden cobbles. He had a hinged jaw which opens and closes, which means you can make him bite any other dinos he catches. It’s pleasing to have some movable parts as this really helps bring them to life in my son’s imagination.

Review: New range of Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2018

The Dinogorgon lived in South Africa and it’s name translates as terrible gorgon; which probably indicates he wasn’t that friendly.‭ ‬The Dinogorgon was about ‬two meters long and ate smaller lizards. This is the first Dinogorgon in the Schleich range.

The Psittacosaurus was quite a strange looking dinosaur. It was small, dinosaur which had a toothless beak a bit like a parrot. Its tail was covered in long and thin spines as a porcupine. Again, this is the first Psittacosaurus made by Schleich, which makes it quite special.

Review: New range of Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2018

The boy is understandably thrilled. Adding these new for 2018 dinosaur figurines to his collection just a few days before the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at the cinema is a real thrill for him.

These Schleich Dinosaur figurines are available at www.schleich-s.co.uk or from other toy retailers.

If you liked the look of these Schleich figurines, you might like this Dinosaur Skull Trap also from Schleich which we reviewed last year.

Disclosure: We were sent these Schleich Dinosaur figurines for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Giveaway & Review: My Brilliant Big Activity Book

I am never more than six metres away from an activity book. As the Mum of a 7 year old, activity books have been an essential part of my life for many years. We always have a stack of them in rotation for when we go out. They’re great if we’re traveling somewhere, or for doing while in the Doctor’s waiting room. They’re in my bag, in the car and there’s a stack of them by the front door ready to grab before we go out. This week the boy has been busy with a new activity book; My Brilliant Big Activity Book from Carlton Kids Books.

My Brilliant Big Activity Book covers a wide range of topics, including dragons, pirates, space and holiday fun! It’s the ultimate activity book to keep kids busy and entertained; full of clever colouring pages, drawing tips and tricks, puzzles and mazes, make-and-do activities and games. From solving mazes, connecting the dots, colouring in pictures or spotting the difference, this book guarantees hours of fun!

Giveaway & Review: My Brilliant Big Activity Book

In short, it’s been the perfect book to keep him entertained over half term. We’ve dipped in and out of it, but he’s solidly worked his way through it this week. He’s designed pizzas, drawn castles, done dot-to-dots and planned a range of gruesome recipes for Halloween.

It’s aimed at children aged 6+ and is bang on the money for my son. It’s really engaging; he can sit and entertain himself with it, or join us for a chat about what he’s doing and what our dream pizza toppings might be. At 176 pages, there are plenty of activities to keep him interested. It’s the kind of activity book you might take on holiday, because there’s so much in there to keep him busy doing a few pages a day for a fortnight.

Giveaway & Review: My Brilliant Big Activity Book

It’s colourful, really well thought out and has pages and pages of engaging content. This book is a winner for me; I hope they bring out a few more activity books like this because I know they will be great additions to our collection.

My Brilliant Big Activity Book by Andrea Pinnington is available now in paperback for £9.99.

WIN A COPY OF My Brilliant Big Activity Book

To be in with a chance to win a copy of The My Brilliant Big Activity Book, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a copy of The My Brilliant Big Activity Book.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 24th June 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
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12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Disclosure: We were sent My Brilliant Big Activity Book for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Recipe: Guinness and Rum Freakshake

I had my first freakshake in Manchester’s Northern Quarter a few years ago. It was an insane hybrid of a lovely milkshake and a lot of booze. They are quietly lethal and a bit of a treat. When I knocked up a lovely batch of Guinness syrup a little while ago, I knew it would be perfect to make a freakshake with, it has all the complex bitter, stouty flavours of Guinness, but in a sweet form which makes it perfect for cakes, bakes and freakshakes! Mixed up with some rum, you get an insanely good Guinness and Rum Freakshake.

To make your freakshake you will need a blender. I have a nutribullet which has sat gathering dust for a few months, and this is perfect for making freakshakes in. It’s not the healthiest use of a nutribullet, but it’s probably the best!

Recipe: Guinness and Rum Freakshake

This Guinness and Rum Freakshake is very loosely based on the Guinness Martini, which is made with dark rum, cold espresso coffee, vodka, crème de cacao and Guinness. This freakshake is really fun and absolutely not for children!

Guinness and Rum Freakshake

Ingredients:
3 scoops of vanilla ice cream
70ml (or two shots) of Guinness Syrup
70ml (or two shots) of dark rum
1 shot of espresso, cooled
250mls of milk
Squirty cream to decorate

Method:
Put it all of the ingredients in a blender and whiz up for a minute. Take a spoon and taste it, you can add more rum, Guinness syrup or coffee if you think you need to. Pour it into a glass and top with squirty cream and a drizzle of Guinness syrup.

Recipe: Guinness and Rum Freakshake

If you don’t have any espresso, you can swap this out for some instant coffee mixed with a shot of boiling water. Make sure you cool it before you add it to the Guinness and rum freakshake.

This recipe makes enough for one large Guinness and Rum Freakshake, if you’re making more than one, just double up the ingredients as necessary.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try these recipes –

Recipe: Guinness and Rum Freakshake

Kids Crafts: How to make a Washi Tape Pen Pot

Spring is here and I’m busy tidying, decluttering and reorganising my house. My desk area and office need a really good sort out and my stacks of filing need to be dealt with. One thing I always have on my desk is a pen pot. Or rather, I have one for pens, one for pencils and one for felt tips too. That alone makes my often cluttered desk space look and feel a bit more organised. This week, in an effort to make my desk a brighter, cheerier space, we made a Washi Tape Pen Pot.

Kids Craft: How to make a Washi Tape Pen Pot

I’ve had a little collection of washi tapes in my craft drawer for a little while now. I’ve used them for a few small things, but I thought they’d be great to decorate a tin can ready to turn it into a pen pot. Recycling at its best!

Make sure you really wash out your tin before you use it. I gave mine a scrub then just to make sure I ran it through the dishwasher. If you don’t do this you might find that your pens and pencils smell a bit like baked beans or dog food.

How to make a Washi Tape Pen Pot

You will need:
One clean tin can
Two or more rolls of washi tape

Kids Craft: How to make a Washi Tape Pen Pot

How to make a Washi Tape Pen Pot

This is so simple. Carefully tape around the tin can in stripes, making sure you’re being really neat. Build up the lines until you’re near the top of the tin can.

Once you get to the top, you can either leave the rim of the metal tin can exposed or cover it with tape. I chose to cover it with tape. I carefully wrapped it around the top of the can. Then I pushed the overhanging tape over the rim of the can and tucked it neatly in place.

Kids Craft: How to make a Washi Tape Pen Pot

My Washi Tape Pen Pot was finished and ready to be put to good use on my desk. You can use whatever colours of washi tape you want, go wild, go crazy, or stay sensible. It’s entirely up to you.

Check out my other craft tutorials here!

Kids Craft: How to make a Washi Tape Pen Pot