Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Keeping Pets Safe this Christmas

Some lucky cats and dogs have been treated to one night in ‘Pet Heaven’ by Vets Now, the out-of-hours emergency vet provider.  The fun experience was created to help raise awareness of the increased danger pets face at Christmas and you can watch the cute videos of the cats at a Catnip Bar and the dogs enjoying a Dog's Dinner!


Vets Now sees a 41% increase in pet emergencies during the holidays, however half of all pet owners don’t have an emergency plan and wouldn’t know what to do if their pet fell ill over Christmas.

According to a survey for Vets Now, a third of pet owners will experience an emergency over Christmas, with many cases caused by pets eating novelty festive items or harmful foods. 5.5 million pet owners will unknowingly feed their pets something dangerous this year and 90% of pet poisonings will happen in the home. It is important for pet owners to know how to keep their furry friends safe.

Vets Now has created an emergency pet plan which owners can download for FREE to ensure heaven stays a place on earth for their furry friends.:

The top ten festive hazards for your pets at Christmas:

1. Chocolate - chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which is severely poisonous to cats and dogs.
2. Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings - all grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are toxic to dogs.
3. Blue Cheese - contains a substance called Roquefortine C which dogs are extremely sensitive to.
4. Tinsel – dogs eat tinsel, which can cause dangerous blockages in the stomach.
5. Salt Dough Ornaments - the mix of flour and salt with water can cause a potentially fatal salt toxicosis if ingested by any pet.
6. Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Ivy – are all mildly toxic to both cats and dogs.
7. Wrapping Paper - while toxicity is low, eating a large amount of paper could cause an obstruction in the stomach.
8. Snow Globes - imported versions can contain antifreeze, which can be fatal for a cat
9. Candles - can burn paws and curious noses. Tails can also knock candles over, which could cause a house fire.
10. Alcohol - can cause severe liver and brain damage. As little as one tablespoon can lead to serious problems for cats or dogs.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Do You Want to Build a Primula Snowman?

I am a mum of five, auntie of eight, great auntie of one and nana of two, so over the Christmas period I am expecting to see plenty of little people coming to visit. Children, generally speaking, are happy if they have full bellies and have something fun to do, so I have combined both of these things and come up with an edible festive activity! 

Using Primula Cheese, I have made a DIY sandwich-making activity for kids to enjoy, which I've called "Do you want to build a Primula snowman?"  Bento lunches have increased hugely in popularity and children love to see favourite characters recreated using food, but I thought making it an activity for the children to do themselves added to the enjoyment. The fact that the children get to use the bits and bobs to create their own snowman, makes this a lot of fun and it uses their creativity. 

It is so quick and easy to prepare everything and you can use up any odds and ends of salad, fruits, vegetables, veggie meats or cheeses that you have. At Christmas, I always have lots of stuff in the fridge so it's easy to find enough goodies to use. Even the fussiest of little eaters will want to get involved! It's a great way to entertain and feed children at the same time - perfect for when you have unexpected visitors with children and want a few seconds peace and quiet!

I let 7 year old Freddy make his own Primula snowman and he loved creating it and then eating it. I think he did a great job and he said it was nice to be able to make his own snack and he thought the snowman looked really cute. He gave it a big thumbs up.

Primula, Christmas


sliced bread
Primula cheese
vegetarian sliced ham

Primula cheese

To prepare:

Using two different sized circular cookie cutters, cut out rounds of bread.
Spread each circle generously with Primula cheese.
Prepare cucumber sticks, strips of veggie ham, carrot triangles and raisin pieces.
Arrange on a big plate.
Give each child their own plate and let them make their own snowmen with raisin eyes and buttons, cucumber arms, a veggie ham scarf and a carrot noise.
Enjoy having happy children!

bento lunch, snowman, Primula

Merry Christmas

I am a member of the Primula Blogger Club, which is a paid partnership.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

After Eight Brownies Recipe #AfterEightBakes

After Eights are such an iconic part of the Christmas festivities. We've always loved the yummy mint chocolate thins after our Christmas dinner. We've even played the game where you put one on your forehead and, without using your hands, have to get it into your mouth! But this year I've used them in a new way as an ingredient in some festive #AfterEightBakes.

After Eight kindly sent me a 300g box and some baking ingredients, challenging me to create a family dessert. I have made After Eight Brownies, a rich, chewy chocolate brownie with a layer of melted, minty After Eights running through the centre.

After Eight Brownies

Christmas, recipe, After Eight


150g Dark Chocolate
125g Butter
100g Self-Raising Flower
2 Free Range Eggs
200g Light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
300g After Eight Mints


Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted.
Allow to cool.
Whisk the eggs and sugar using an electric whisk until thick and foamy.
Stir the melted chocolate mix into the egg mix and add vanilla essence.
Sieve in the flour and fold in.
Pour half the brownie batter into a tin (12"  x 9 ") and top with a layer of After Eight mints.
Pop into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes.
It is ready when the top looks papery and a cocktail stick comes out sticky but not wet.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and cut into squares when it has cooled.

How I got £200 of Christmas shopping for free with Swagbucks

In October, I decided that I really needed to get on top of my Christmas planning. With so much to do and with time pressing on, I needed make a start on my Christmas shopping. Money is always spread thin at this time of year, and so my mind cast back to the success I had had with Swagbucks a few years ago in a Thrifty Blogger Challenge that I'd taken part in.

Swagbucks is a free to join website where you can earn vouchers for doing things online. From taking surveys, to watching videos, to searching the web, to taking part in special offers to shopping online, you earn Swagbucks that can be exchanged for vouchers for shops such as Argos, Amazon and Currys. Swagbucks have been rated the #1 site to make money online by MSE and have given away over $350 of rewards globally. There is good money to be made for dedicating a little time to the Swagbucks site each day.

So for the last ten weeks I have been doing daily Swagbucking. As someone who spends a lot of time online, it's easy to incorporate Swagbucks into my daily routine. I've taken daily surveys, watched lots of videos (mostly film trailers) and  used the Swagbucks site to search the internet. I've done a few special offers, taken part in promotions and completed some of my Christmas shopping through the site, earning a percentage of my spending back in Swagbucks cashback.

Each day, Swagbucks gives a daily target, which I use to motivate myself. Meeting the targets earn you bonuses. These really add up over the month. Some days I smash these targets, other days can be slow, but I always persevere.  I have the app on my mobile too so I can use Swagbucks on the go if I'm away from home, which is particularly helpful for hitting those targets!


I have been absolutely overjoyed to have made £200 in Amazon vouchers in just over two months. This has covered a huge chunk of my Christmas spending. As well as doing Swagbucks for myself, I recommended it to my daughter (who is away at university) and my niece (who is getting married next year and trying to save money), who both benefited from earning some extra cash for Christmas shopping. They both earned in excess of £100 each. Knowing I helped them pay for pressies has made me feel so happy! As I referred them, I earned a referral bonus, boosting my own total. So sharing the Swagbucks secret benefits both you and your friends.

You can find out about the latest promotions on the Swagbucks UK Facebook page, on the blog and via email, so you can stay one step ahead when it comes to earning those valuable Swagbucks.

From Wednesday to Friday this week, Swagbucks have a huge promotion on their online shopping. The cashback is being quadrupled, making the site the most generous cashback site out there! So simply by shopping for any last minute Christmas gifts online at your favourite stores such as Argos, Boots, The Body Shop, M & S or, you will earn a top rate of cashback. Holiday companies such as Thomson and First Choice also offer generous rates of cashback, great for anyone planning their summer holidays. So today is a great time to start your Swagbucks journey.

If you want to take a look at Swagbucks and sign up (just an email and password required) you can use my referral link here: or click through the banners. You can earn some spending money for the January sales!


Monday, 12 December 2016

Nine Lives out on DVD plus some Cool Cat Facts

This Christmas, treat the family to the new feline caper Nine Lives, which follows the escapades of a businessman who becomes trapped in the body of the family's new pet cat. 

Tom Brand, a successful billionaire businessman has grown distant from his wife and daughter. Obsessed with developing the highest building in the Northern hemisphere, he arrogantly pursues his career at the expense of those around him. When he forgets to buy his daughter Rebecca a present for her 11th birthday he rushes off to try and find the gift she most wants, a pet cat. He finds himself in a mystical pet store run by eccentric owner, Felix Perkins (played wonderfully by Christopher Walken). He has the perfect pet for him: fluffy feline, Mr. Fuzzypants.

Kevin Spacey

On his way back to his daughter's party, Tom is called to his tower block, where he and the cat are involved in a freak accident. Tom regains consciousness to discover that his mind has somehow become trapped inside the body of the cat. He watches as his body is wheeled away into an ambulance in a coma. 

Mr Fuzzypants comes home to live in the family home and it takes Tom some time to adjust to cat life, resulting in some very funny moments. Tom quickly realises that occupying the body of a pet cat can be a blessing as he gets to spend more time with his family and gets to know his daughter. He soon learns what is important in life and is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his loved ones.

Nine Lives is a purrfectly heart-warming tale about the importance of family and our furry friends.

NINE LIVES is out to own on Blu-ray & DVD from 12th December, 2016, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The Nine Lives DVD will make a great gift for the cat lover in your life. How about creating a gift basket containing cat goodies and a copy of the DVD?

Christmas gift idea

Cool Cat Facts

To celebrate the release of Nine Lives here's some cool cat facts courtesy of the feline charity Cats Protection.

SLEEP – Cats sleep upwards of 15 hours a day. They laze about a good portion of the day and expend their energy in bursts nearer dawn and dusk as that is when they typically hunt.

KNEADING – Cats knead or paw at the ground when they are happy in a habit leftover from kittenhood.

TOMS AND QUEENS – A male cat is often referred to as a ‘Tom’, while a female cat is called a ‘Queen’.

HEARING - Cats can hear sounds up to 77,000 Hertz, even higher than dogs and much higher than humans. Most cats will respond to noises their owners can’t even hear.

KINDLE AND CLOWDER – A ‘Kindle’ is a group of kittens and a ‘Clowder’ is a group of adult cats.

LANDING ON THEIR FEET – All cats carry an incredible ability to right themselves in mid-air and turn to land on their feet when falling. Handy for learning to climb trees.

HEIGHTS – Cats like finding high perches where they can survey their surroundings from above. Cats Protection suggests making sure your cat has access to resting places that give it a good view of the rest of the room.

HEAD RUB– Cats say hello to each other by rubbing their heads or side of their bodies on each other. So if they do this to you, they like you!

SUNBURN – Cats can get sunburn. Most cats love to laze in the sunshine, but light-haired cats are susceptible to sunburn. Cats Protection suggests asking a vet for recommended non-toxic sun creams that are safe for furry felines.

cats, feline

Family Films for Christmas - Swallows and Amazons

Growing up in a time before DVDs, games consoles, big screen TVs, the internet, iPads and smartphones, childhood was far more simple. Days were spent out of doors from the early morning to when the sun went down (only popping home for our dinner). We'd play in the woods, in the field or by the river. Life was more innocent, we had more freedom and we never even thought to question our safety.

Watching the new Swallows and Amazons movie, I found the way that the children enjoyed their freedom very familiar and quite nostalgic. Although it is set four decades before my own childhood, so much of the adventure resonated with my own inner child. Exploring new places, building camps, making fires, playing with bows and arrows and being free to play all day long, are things I remember fondly!

The film is very charming and enchanting, reflecting an innocent era of time gone by. Swallows and Amazons is an adventure set in 1935, based on the classic children's novel by Arthur Ransome. It harks back to a time where imaginations were the only things that kids needed to play.


While holidaying in the Lake District, the Walker children become embroiled in an exciting and unexpectedly dangerous adventure. To entertain themselves, the four children decide to set sail to an island in the middle of a lake, onboard a boat called the Swallow. Thinking that it is a deserted island, the children claim it as their own and set up camp. However they soon realise that somebody else has been there before. They meet two other children, who captain their own pirate boat, the Amazon, who have already laid claim to the island. This leads to a battle between the Swallows and the Amazons for control and supremacy over the island.

Swallows and Amazons

During their adventure, the children also become embroiled in a mystery surrounding a secretive man who lives on a houseboat on the lake. He is hiding a dark secret that finds the children involved in some drama concerning pre-WWII espionage, which lands them in a very dangerous situation. The children need to come together and use all their cunning and bravery against a common foe.

The film has a great British cast with familiar faces such as Harry Enfield, Kelly MacDonald, Rafe Spall and Jessica Hynes in starring roles. The children are excellent young actors who breathe life into this heartwarming tale with their energy and personalities. The locations are stunning, showcasing the natural beauty of Cumbria, the music is lovely and the cinematography is quite beautiful.

Swallows and Amazons introduces this classic tale to a whole new generation of children. There are no dazzling special effects or CGI, instead you have real life adventure and exciting storytelling. There is some edge of your seat action that made us hold our breath, along with some genuinely funny moments.

Overall, this is a quaint, simple, charming film that captures the essence of the original classic tale. It is a breath of fresh air in our hi-tech existence, which reminds us that there is a whole world of adventure out there to  discover. It is a perfect film that the family can enjoy together this Christmas.

Swallows and Amazons lands on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital download from December 12th 2016 courtesy of STUDIOCANAL.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Vegetarian Cheese and Ham Swirls #ChristmasSnackHack

I really enjoy entertaining over Christmas and have a stock of recipes perfect for making quick snacks for unexpected guests (or for treating ourselves over the festive period!) It is reassuring to know that I can knock up something fast and tasty especially when those #LittleMomentsofChristmasChaos occur!

Here is a really simple but impressive festive snack hack that is so easy to make using just three main ingredients including a tube of Primula Cheese with Chives. This recipe for Tear and Share Vegetarian Cheese and Ham Swirls makes a snack that looks amazing and tastes even better. Tearing and sharing is a fun, informal and sociable way to eat - absolutely perfect for Christmastime.

Primula, cheese, vegetarian recipe, Christmas snacks

Vegetarian Cheese and Ham Swirls


1 can of Croissant Dough (makes 6)
1 tube of Primula Cheese with Chives
1 pack of vegetarian thinly sliced 'ham'
egg to glaze


Open the tin of croissant dough and unroll it. It is perforated to make six triangles with each pair of triangles making up a rectangle. Gently press the dough across the diagonals to re-seal the perforations and then cut the dough to make three rectangles.

Primula cheese, croissant dough, recipe

Spread a third of the tube of Primula over each dough rectangle.
Top with slices of vegetarian ham.

Primula, Quorn, snack hack

Roll up from the long side to make a sausage shape. 
Repeat this with the other two rectangles of croissant dough.


Carefully cut into inch slices and arrange in an 8" ovenproof dish. 
Leave space around each swirl for them to rise and expand in the oven.
Any extras can be placed on a baking tray individually (use greaseproof paper to stop them sticking). 
Glaze with beaten egg.

vegetarian, Primula, cheese

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for about 12 - 15 minutes until golden brown.
Serve warm straight from the dish.

Primula, recipe, cheese

My family absolutely love these Vegetarian Cheese and Ham Swirls. They would work equally well using whatever veggie meats you have in the fridge, so you can adapt them to suit your needs. Just make sure you have a tube of Primula and a can of croissant dough to hand (I always buy a few tins over Christmas for impromptu breakfasts or snacking) and you can make a batch of these in no time at all.

Primula, Christmas, vegetarian, recipe

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Lowry

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is an absolute family classic and something I have loved since I first watched it with my parents many years ago as a little girl. Whenever it was shown on TV, we'd settle down to watch it on TV together. This is a tradition that I have continued with my own children through the years. It is storytelling at its finest. This year though, instead of watching it at home, we've been lucky enough to watch it live on stage.

We were invited to the press night at The Lowry, Salford where we were entertained by a choir singing the songs from the show along with some festive favourites, while we waited in the foyer for the show to start, which really got us in the mood. Starring Jason Manford, Phill Jupitus and Claire Sweeney, this spectacular production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang brings all the excitement, adventure, comedy and emotion of the film to the stage.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

From the moment the show began, my children (aged 7, 14 and 20) were all hooked. Jason Manford in the role of Caractacus Potts is superb, conveying the pathos and emotion with as much conviction as the humour. And he can sing too!  The children in the roles of Jemima and Jeremy are amazing and bring such wide eyed innocence and excitable childish enthusiasm to the story. Such talented kids!

The real star of the show is of course the car and the use of theatre magic brings Chitty to life. The car drives down country lanes, floats on the ocean and flies in the sky! Thanks to some cool special effects technolgy, some clever scenery and the use of projected images, the audience is completely immersed into the production, being transported from land to sea to air, from England to Vulgaria.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The two Vulgarian spies, Boris and Goran bring laugh out loud comedy to the show. With their exaggerated accents, ridiculous disguises and their habit of getting things wrong, they have everyone giggling. Baron and Baroness Bomburst (played by Jupitus and Sweeney) also play it perfectly for laughs and their rendition of You're My Little Choochy Face is a delight! The Vulgarian, child-hating, toy loving dictators are such colourful characters and have some very extravagant scenes. Grandpa Potts is another super character who adds some eccentric humour, warmth and fun to the show.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The songs of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are all so memorable and you can't help clapping or singing along at times. We loved the scene where Truly and Caractacus are dressed as toys to infiltrate the castle during the Baron's birthday celebrations. They sing a mix up of Turning around on a Music Box and Truly Scrumptious, which is just lovely.

Perhaps the darkest character from any family film ever is the evil Child Catcher. He is the stuff of nightmares, taking children away, locking them in a cage and then making them disappear. He was brilliantly and sinisterly played by Jos Vantyler.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

This production is a breathtaking show for all the family, filled with great choreography, funny moments, brilliant music, amazing special effects, wonderful acting and heartwarming emotion. It is recommended for children over 5 (although if you don't attend a matinee, be prepared for the kids to have a late night!)  Freddy at 7 absolutely loved it and we would definitely recommend it for families this festive season. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at The Lowry until January 15th 2017. 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Lowry, Salford
Tue 6 December 2016– Sun 15 January 2017
7.30pm (Wed, Sat & Sun 2pm)
Tickets: £19.50 - £47.50 (Including booking fees)
Box office: 0843 208 6000

Monday, 5 December 2016

A Festive Breakfast with Santa at Selfridges

This weekend, we started our Christmas activities off in style with a visit to the intu Trafford Centre, where Freddy was invited to enjoy breakfast with Santa at Selfridges. Dressed in his best Christmas sweater, Freddy joined the other boys and girls on a beautifully decorated table nestled in a corner of the shop floor, and began his morning with some festive colouring while awaiting the arrival of the special guest!

intu Trafford Centre

With a Ho-Ho-Ho, Santa Claus arrived looking resplendent in his red fur suit and hat. He took a seat at the table with the children and chatted to them about his reindeer, the elves, life in Lapland, magic dust and other Santa-y things. The children were all so engaged and delighted, it was magical. Freddy remarked at how much he enjoyed having a real conversation with Santa and not just being asked what he wanted for Christmas and whether he'd been good or not. So this experience was really special to him.

The children were each given a box filled with a selection of amazing looking breakfast goodies including blueberries, a sparkly topped boiled egg, toast soldiers, a rainbow cereal bar, a raspberry mousse, a muffin and star shaped pancakes with syrup. Freddy's favourite was a white chocolate and sprinkles covered apple! Everything was so colourful and fun. Apparently, this is what the elves have for breakfast in the North Pole. It certainly made a change from Freddy's usual bowl of Shreddies!!

Once the food was eaten, Santa lead the group of children to an area where they had a Christmas sing song. Santa then gave out some really nice presents to all the children and posed for photographs with them. It really was a lovely way to spend the morning, leaving us feeling very festive indeed!

We followed Santa's breakfast with a good mooch around Selfridges, looking at all their festive things and getting some gift inspiration. Who knew there was a Primark concession in store? So neat and tidy and with a very good range of clothes and accessories. Amazing! And the food hall is the perfect place for picking up some exciting Christmassy foodie bits.

A visit to Selfridges at Christmas promises to be fun, as Santa will be making appearances throughout the store at designated Santa Stops on Saturdays from 12 - 6 pm until the 18th December. Families can share some magical moments or even grab a Santa selfie.

There is lots going on at the intu Trafford Centre over Christmas including The Polar Expedition, a festive fair at Barton Square and the intu Christmas Wheel as well as holiday happenings, pop-up stalls and other exciting things going on in stores. And the whole place is decorated and looking gorgeous. You can't help but get into the Christmas spirit.

Find out more at


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...